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Mom talk: the importance of Tummy Time

Why you should incorporate Tummy Time into your children’s daily routine.
And how you can make it fun too.

“Tummy Time is time your baby spends on his or her tummy while awake, always supervised, on the floor and never on a raised or pillowed surface like a bed or couch”, Austin Nikolich explains. Austin is an Early Childhood Curriculum Coordinator, Community College instructor and mom of two sons. She learned that although most babies don’t love it, it’s critical to baby’s overall development:  “Spending time on the tummy helps the baby to develop stronger back, neck and shoulder muscles.  Since we all develop proximally to distally - from our outer, big muscles to our inner, small muscles - these first muscle developments lay the groundwork for future small muscle work, like using a spoon or writing.”



How long babies should spend on their tummies, according to Austin is basically, for as long as they’ll tolerate it. She tells us that babies can spend a few minutes throughout the day on their tummies, adding a little more time as they grow. If you'd like a guideline, we added an overview of how much time the baby should spend on his or her tummy, depending on their age:

1. Get on your tummy too
Austin: "Babies don’t need noisy toys that light up to capture their attention. Adults can lay on the floor on their own tummies, face to face with baby, singing or talking to him. As he lifts his head to see your face, offer that big proud smile. You can move to either side of the baby to encourage him to lift his head to the side and look around."

2. Don’t want to lay on the floor? 
Austin: "That’s ok!  Flexible, shatterproof A-frame mirrors will do the trick too.  Baby will enjoy lifting his or her head to see who’s looking back in the mirror!"

3. Pick any activity
Austin: "Almost all activities that can be done sitting, can be done on your tummy.  Reading, drawing, working a puzzle, rolling a ball back and forth, playing peek-a-boo are all fun activities that babies and young children enjoy."


Tip: Play mats make Tummy Time for little ones comfortable,
soft and safe - even for parents, when they get on the mat together.

"Research on child development shows that even preschoolers and older children benefit from Tummy Time too", Austin explains. "Crossing their midline - such as moving an arm across to the opposite side of their body to for example turn the pages of a book, while balancing on the support arm - works their whole body and requires both large and small muscles to engage together." 

"Next to that, school-aged children still need to work on vertical surfaces, and in prone position - propped on elbows - to continue strengthening those muscles that lead to better balance and coordination."


1. Avoid calling it Tummy Time, as they probably don't want you to call it that
Austin: "Just get them to play their games or read or listen to stories or even let them write or colour while propped on their elbows."

2. Let them do yoga or other whole body exercises on a cushioned floor
Austin: "A calming, organizing activity that also provides much needed sensory input." 

3.  Play Superman
Austin: "Get on the mat together and lay on your tummies with your arms and legs stretched as long as possible. Now, lift both arms and both legs and get your chest as high off the floor as possible. Make it more fun by humming the Superman theme song. Who can hold this position the longest?
You can make this even more difficult by challenging your child (or yourself) to lift alternating arms and legs, or reach for each other’s toes or fingers while you lift and stretch."

"In short, being on your tummy
is always a good thing,
whether you’re just a few weeks old
or you’re well into adulthood"

Austin Nikolich