The Case Against Tummy Time: Guest Post by Irene Lyon

Does your baby like tummy time? Most don’t, for good reason. Until infants are able to roll into the tummy position on their own, most of them find it uncomfortable, immobilizing, and no doubt highly discouraging.

But rather than listen to our babies, we are asked to put our faith in recent studies about plagiocephaly (flat-headedness), studies that don’t take into account the fact that infants are now spending more time than ever in restrictive devices (like car seats, bouncy seats and carriers) that inhibit babies from doing what they are naturally inclined to do: round out the back of their heads by turning them from side to side. 

Instead, the back position and rousingly successful “Back to Sleep” campaign (which has cut the SIDS rate in the US in half since it began in 1992) have been named as the culprits.  So, rather than understand these studies as a reflection of the need for more free movement and floor time during the baby’s waking hours, many experts have concluded that imposing tummy time is the answer.

In this insightful guest post, Irene Lyon, a Feldenkrais and Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (and producer/director of the world renowned “Baby Liv” video), sheds light on the valuable developmental processes hindered when tummy time is imposed early, and helps us see tummy time from our baby’s point of view. Irene writes: 

Have you ever had a local anesthetic for dental surgery?

Your gums, facial muscles, facial affect, smiling, talking, eating – it all just goes funny and you simply can’t use your mouth area until the anesthesia wears off. You feel kind of silly and imbecile-like, yes?

Now imagine this.

You are on your stomach, lying on the ground. You want to lift your head up.  But someone just injected your back extensor muscles (the ones that allow you to lift up off the ground and lift your head) with that same local anesthetic that dentists use. The very muscles that work to lift up your head and chest are simply deadened. It’s even hard to engage your shoulders and arms to lift yourself up because, unfortunately, they too interact with your back extensors. You might say: “Darn it, this head feels so heavy. It’s a struggle. I feel completely helpless!”

This last scenario is exactly what happens when infants are put on their stomachs for “tummy time.” The only difference is that the infant can’t speak yet to say: “Hey, what’s going on, this sucks. I’m uncomfortable. HELP!”

Putting infants on their tummies without having them go through the process of getting to their tummy on their own is analogous to injecting their back extensor muscles with that local anesthetic. They are paralyzed and basically unable to access their back extensor muscles, mainly because the actual act of getting to their tummy from their back (something that takes months!) is what forms their spinal curves – the lumbar, thoracic and cervical – and in turn gives them strength in their back muscles.

Have you had a chance to watch “Baby Liv”?

Before you read on, give yourself the 3-minute pleasure of watching Baby Liv. Watch the video piece straight through.  See the process of Baby Liv going from her back, to side, to tummy (and all the in-between’s).

Then, I’d like to give you a recap of what she’s doing from a functional and structural point of view. In essence: What is giving her the juice to get to her tummy and decide when she is ready for her own “Tummy Time”.

Rolling – Feldenkrais with Baby Liv from Irene Lyon on Vimeo.

This footage was taken over a series of months.

@ 20 seconds: She’s pretty still, but if you look at the eye movement, to the right and left, that is priming her spine for rotating. For now, she’s doing tiny pieces of rotation. (Try this yourself, only move your eyes left and right. If you are attentive enough, you’ll sense you neck and head wanting to move in the direction your eyes travel.)

She then looks at her fingertips. This gaze upwards is forming the curves in the upper part of her spine (the cervical area) – and in actuality, it is transmitting throughout her entire body. The support she finds from the ground under her – from foot to head – provides “juice” for this movement (and all movements, really).

@ 41 seconds: You can just see the increase in fluidity throughout her entire self and a greater availability for movement.

@ 1 min: She’s moving her legs a lot, and this is putting a nice wave up her spine…think…snake like movement!

@1.15: She starts to do a roll. This seemingly innocent movement carries a lot of punch in the development world. That little push through her foot and the tiny rotation it brings is just the beginning of finding a teensy bit of spinal extension and use of her back muscles. Lifting both of her legs up tilts her pelvis and flattens her lower back into the ground. This flattening of her lower back is forming the opposite of her lumbar curve. It is lengthening her back muscles. This lengthening gives her ‘energy’ in her back muscles so that she has more ability to actually engage them.

@2.09: If you can catch it – it’s quick – when she is going for giraffe Sophie, you see her little head pick up off the ground. BINGO! This little lift is happening because the rest of her body, below, has found the support surfaces and functionally to un-weight her head.  All the pieces are falling into place.

@ 2.18: She’s a pretty happy kid.  She’s got there HERSELF (think: self-reliance), and her head held high with absolute support coming from her pelvis, hands and legs. She’s anchoring into the ground in numerous places and learning how to use her environment for movement. You see, in this moment of her lifting her body up, there is no impingement on her neck area, and clean spinal curves are being developed.

It isn’t about the firing and strengthening of “muscles” per se, it’s about functionally doing the movements that our nervous system wants to find, and then letting the muscles, and nature, just do their job.

@2.44-2.46: Now she is really showing off her ability to finely control her rotation and movement. She’s got it dialed. It feels good. She’s having fun!

Irene Gutteridge (now Irene Lyon) blogs at her virtual office, Her education is in the health sciences and she is a certified Feldenkrais and Somatic Experiencing Practitioner practicing in Whistler & Vancouver, British Columbia. You can reach her through her website,, via Facebook:, Twitter: @Irene_Lyon, or good old email: She loves meeting new people!

For more about tummy time:

No Tummy Time Necessary and Tummy Time Baby’s Way by child development specialist and RIE Associate Lisa Sunbury, Regarding Baby

Tummy Time May Not Be Needed
by Nicholas Bakalar, The New York Times

Plagiocephaly?!? (or Why “Tummy Time” is not the answer)
by Sarita Galvez, Moverse en Libertad

The Tummy Time Debate by Gill Connell, Little Treasures Magazine

For more thoughts on natural motor development and parenting with trust, I recommend Magda Gerber’s books: Dear Parent: Caring For Infants With Respect and Your Self Confident Baby: How To Encourage Your Child’s Natural Abilities From The Very Start

And my book, Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting


(Photo by devinf on Flickr)


Please share your comments and questions. I read them all and respond to as many as time will allow.

  1. I am a child care provider and can testify to the benefits of tummy time. I once enrolled an 11 month old who almost never saw it and she could not even sit up on her own. And she is not alone. Many infants are not meeting milestones because parents are not placing the baby on the belly during SUPERVISED 10-15 min periods every day. Sure they don’t like it. But getting those little belly muscles stronger is so essential for rolling over and crawling. We all have had to do things we haven’t liked to do – like take tests. But they sure helped towards graduation.

    1. DiDi – I’m wondering how putting an infant on his/her belly gets “those little belly muscles stronger”. Granted, I’m an old guy, but when I want to stengthen my belly muscles, I do that on my back. And, as an aside, I wonder if infants in your class who aren’t meeting “milestones” (don’t get me started!) are being deprived of the essential time to develop physically because they’re carried, placed in seats or propped up on pillows. Otherwise, if they’re allowed the freedom they need, infants are generally totally capable of developing on their own. And on their own schedules. Naturally… my opinion only, of course.

      1. I agree with you about babies developing according to their own mile stones! I would like to also challenge your remark about babies “being deprived of the essential time to develop physically because they’re carried” – studies show that infants who are carried on mom/dad/caregivers bodies in a spread-squatting position ideal for their hips are not at all delayed developmentally. By contrast, studies show that worn babies develop gross motor skills and begin walking earlier than babies who are not carried. Studies attribute this to the benefits of vestibular movement of riding on a parents body in a good carrier (usually a cloth carrier, if considering other cultures), which encourages babies to engage muscles and develop tone and balance.

        1. “By contrast, studies show that worn babies develop gross motor skills and begin walking earlier than babies who are not carried.”

          Who cares if they develop them earlier or later? That’s just another milestone. Thanksfully, not all parents are obsessed with a need for their babies to develop ‘faster.’ There are many who let babies develop at their own pace instead of feeling a need to accelerate it for them.

          Supervised tummy time is not in any way a requirement for a healthy baby. There are literally tens of thousands of babies whose parents don’t believe in tummy time who develop at their own pace every year. Different strokes for different folks. Stop searching for one-size-fits all answers.

          1. I’ve never heard of those studies, Adriane, and would be interested in seeing them… Can you please direct me?

          2. Hi Zachary, it’s not a question of babies developing earlier… it’s a question of babies developing properly. I have lots of medical information backing tummy time up. I would like to know if Janet has any medical or physiotherapy experience to be rubbishing something which has been proven?? Please share.

            P.s. What age is the baby used in the video that i have just watched, 3/4 months?

            Kind regards,


            1. Hpsarsnip, I would like to know what you mean by “properly”. The Pikler/Gerber philosophy is in agreement with the studies that have been done (and, no, we have not yet had the means to do our own), because ALL that has been proven is that babies need to experience the tummy position. But what these researchers DON’T understand, because they haven’t studied thousands of babies developing naturally, as Pikler (who was an M.D.) and Gerber did, is that babies do this perfectly well own their own. They do it BETTER on their own, because they can then decide when their bodies are ready to be in this position and how long they should remain in it. Our bodies have wisdom. Do you not agree with that? Listening to our bodies is something we are born able to do and babies do this beautifully, until they are taught otherwise by those who don’t have a clue as to what they are capable of…which is most M.D.s, therapists, etc….because they don’t spend time observing babies self-directing development.

              1. Hi Janet,

                thanks for the response. By ‘properly’ I mean by the milestones that a nurtured baby should reach by a certain age.

                Do you have the links to these studies?

                Kind regards

              2. Janet, in the email that you sent me, you generalised by saying that people like me think that putting babies in car seats etc. reduces the risk of Plagiocephaly?

                I have never stated this… the tummy time philosophy is built on the facts that this is fundamental in hindering a child’s development.

                It seems like you are giving a one-sided argument and have not studied the benefits of tummy time?

                The studies which I have read are not built on ‘hear say’. Everything with which I speak about is backed up with reports and tests done on real infants by important medical figures.

                I look forward to hearing your response.

                Perhaps we could create a debate where parents can share their experiences and read the facts in a fairer environment?

                Note: Not all tummy time devices available on the world market are on the floor tummy time solutions. babies don’t have to be face down these days!


                1. I’m sorry you misunderstand my note to you… I did not say that “people like you” believe “putting babies in car seats etc. reduces the risk of Plagiocephaly”. That would be a bizarre thing to say, since that is where the problems with Plagiocephaly stem from…babies not given free movement. For clarification, here’s my note again…

                  I’ve responded to your comment on the post, but I’ll take a moment here as well… Dr. Emmi Pikler (a renowned Hungarian pediatrician) first studied Natural Gross Motor Development in the 1930’s and her theories have been corroborated by many others over the years, including most Feldenkrais practitioners (like the author of the post you read), along with other physical therapists and body specialists… Since you seem to have a vested interest in these ideas, I recommend learning more about Pikler and her work. She was the first to do what very few M.D.s have done since. She observed many thousands of infants moving freely on the floor, unrestricted and unassisted while they “played”, developing their motor skills naturally and independently. None of the babies in her years of practice developed “flat heads” and that has been documented (in fact, I believe I link to that in the tummy time post).

                  When babies are allowed to spend adequate time moving freely on a firm surface, they end up spending only a few months on their backs, all the while engaging in important developmental activities (as Irene explains in the post). The APA’s recommendations are based on what many who read studies rather than observe babies believe, namely that infants will not get to the tummy position “quickly enough” or “at all” unless they are forced there… This could not be more untrue.

                  Babies today need much more unrestricted floor time than they are getting. Carriers, bouncy seats, car seats, bumbos, swings, and the like, are where babies spend their awake time. Ironically, what you (and others) believe to be the cause of flat-headedness is actually the cure. Infants don’t need premature tummy time. This truth has been lost on the experts, who base their views on studies, rather than spend time observing and trusting babies to develop naturally.

                  Best regards,


                2. I’m getting the impression that you know quite a bit about these “tummy time devices” and perhaps sell them? This is a fair environment…and a FREE one, too.

              3. I would also like to state for the record, I am completely for any situation between parent/carer and child that promotes bonding.

      2. WELL SAID!

        My baby was not placed on the floor til she was 5 months old. Prior to that she was carried in a *soft* sling. At 5 months she could sit unsupported, and at 6 months she was rolling – from her back onto her front, and back again.

        She ‘met her milestones’ just fine! And that was without putting her in the stressful situation of putting her on her tummy before she had the ability to change position or even keep her head off the ground!

    2. DiDi, I can guarantee you that the 11 month old you mention didn’t have enough floor time, because if he had he would have chosen to roll from back to tummy when ready. I agree, time spent on the tummy is extremely important to development, and babies choose to spend time in that position when the time is right (usually between 4-7 months).

      Babies don’t meet milestones when they are in restrictive devices or rushed to sit, stand and walk, rather than being allowed the freedom of movement necessary to develop naturally.

      1. This is great! I have never heard of another opponent of “tummy time”. To me as a Mother of two and full time child care provider (a degree in Child Development) it has always felt unnatural to place infants in positions they cannot achieve themselves.
        Lots of one on one time being held and on the floor always seems to do the trick to strengthen muscles in preparation for rolling, sitting ect. Seats designed to position infants unnaturally that restrict their movement(bouncers, swings and the like)hinder gross motor development.
        In my humble opinion…unrestrained movement (on caregivers lap or floor) is what babies need to develop normally.

        1. What a silly remark – babies cannot achieve any position at all that they are not placed in!! You are choosing to start him or her on his or her back versus the belly and stating that is the position they cannot achieve. I work at a Children’s Hospital and work with infants daily. Trust me. They need supervised awake tummy time.

          1. “They need supervised awake tummy time.”

            This is the silliest remark!!

            No they don’t! Read the article! Read all the millions of posts online from parents whose babies HATE being placed in that unnatural position!!!

            It’s a lot different placing a 4 or 5 month old on its back and allowing it to practice rolling, and eventually crawling, thn placing a helpless 4/8/12 week old baby on its stomach.

            Tummy time stresses young babies, both physically and mentally.

            1. Babies will roll over if being on their tummy is uncomfortable but parents should help by putting the baby in this position. The argument for waiting for babies to find this position on their own is quite silly given the ymber of prnets who do not even put their babies on the floor to exercise/explore. Many parents are lazy and choose restrictive devices, thinking that these are substitutes for supervised free movement on the floor. Tummy time helpt to build core strength. Do babies choose whether they are breastfed or bottle fed? No. It is the adults who must use their knowledge (hopefully they have read about infant development or listen to other parents or their doctor) to give their baby the best opportunity to develop naturally.

          2. Kerry it is about having RESPECT for babies !!! babies can and WILL achieve positions naturally when left unassisted and have the time to develop naturally

          3. What an excellent point! Personally, I think a babies natural place is in a caregivers’s arms. Do you think our ancestors would have just left their kids lying about on the ground all day long?

          4. Yeah, never understood how lying on their backs is supposed to be the most natural position for babies. Seems pretty dumb to randomly pick one of the many positions you can put them in that they can’t put themselves in and put that one on a pedestal as the most “natural” one. Not to mention that natural things aren’t necessarily ideal or even remotely better than unnatural things. Whether or not something is natural has basically nothing to do with whether or not it’s good.

      2. In essence, I agree that babies may spend too much time in restrictive devices…perhaps in some environments that is necessary for safety.
        Floor time is important and I think that many families do not appreciate this fact or they just cannot make enough time for many reasons. I am in no way blaming families…it is simply a fact. So many babies and so many different family situations to appreciate when talking about childcare and growth and development.

      3. Dear oh dear Janet, I’m not here to have a fight with you.

        If I was selling something, the obvious way to do that would be to mention a product name which I have not(again sharing information with your readers which is not true).

        I actually agree with many of your points however, I am still waiting for the evidence that you promised on the other issues regarding “The case against tummy time!”.

        I object to people sharing information which is unfounded and could pose a threat to the well-being of children.

        I’m very disappointed, I thought that you might be able to enlighten me a little.
        Perhaps if you dislike readers challenging your argument, you should disable the comment section allowing you to spread this nonsense in peace?

        Feel free to drop me an email with the documentation to back up your argument.

        Kind regards

      4. Janet, can you post me the links to the research please?

        many thanks

        1. Mr. Parsnip, I’ve given you way too much of my time already. This probably isn’t the best place to look for sales for your “tummy time devices”.

    3. The benefits are from strengthened core muscles, which you can get lots of ways, the silliest of which IMHO is tummy time. My latest baby almost never saw tummy time and she was pulling to stand at eight months. How on earth did she meet that developmental milestone without tummy time? Easy – she almost never saw a baby seat. No bouncers, no carseats except in the car, no swings. She was held in hands or a sling all the time. Being held by an adult builds great core muscles. People are not motionless and rigid like a seat, so baby’s core is constantly engaged. For the poor baby who is strapped into some seat or another (which unfortunately is pretty common in daycares) for most of their day, then yes, by all means, they better get some tummy time. Even better though – maybe someone should hold them more. Just sayin’. My babe also did have daily floor time, but on her back. She used that time to explore her body and how it worked and moved. She enjoyed turning to look at herself in a mirror placed near her. And that strengthened her just fine. She was crawling at 6 months. And all without forced artificial tummy time.

      1. i agree, well said! i actually had all of those baby seats (swing, bouncer, etc) ready to go for my newborn, but he ended up hating them, so i held him all the time:) so glad! he also is pulling to stand and starting to walk at 8 months.

      2. I love your experience without forced tummy time…it never ceases to amaze me as a grandmother how there are so many scenarios and moms willing to share them.
        I am a nurse with a specialty in mother/baby/pediatrics and all of these “stories” help me with my own work.
        Thank you for sharing.

      3. I agree. Unfortunately not all parents are as ‘brilliant’ as the parents on this site. Baby bouncers and car seats(illegal not to have one) are here to stay. Babies spend too much time in them. In fact contrary to what Janet claims that I said earlier (I didn’t)… Too much time spent in baby bouncers creates excess pressure on the cranium causing Plagiocephaly (flat-head).

        10 minutes a day of tummy time per day WILL improve your babies motor skills and improve your baby’s infant development. FACT

        spending less time against hard surfaces i.e. car seats, will reduce the risk of flat-head syndrome. FACT

        I came on this site for a nice healthy discussion however, this appears to be something which is lacking.

        Kind regards

        1. Why not just 10 min a day with baby not on their back? I guess I’m wondering why tummy-time is the answer and not ‘hold your baby’

          Thanks in advance!

          1. Ruth, Mr. Parsnip sells tummy time “devices”…as if anyone needed them. See his other posts above.

            1. Hi Janet

              I have no real opinion about tummy time aside from my pediatrician suggestions – so I won’t argue for or against it. You might be correct or you might be wrong – have no clue! Frankly I also do not care much since our baby loves tummy time and she has a lot of floor time and we carry her a lot (I feel bad putting her in her swing and I generally love carriers more than other “devices”)

              But I have to say that Mr. Parsnip does not look like somebody who sells “tummy time devices” – your comment looks defensive and unnecessary. You mentioned the same sentence multiple times when this person clearly stated that it is not correct and never once suggested a specific product (I can also say yes there are devices for tummy time, my daughter has one and I work for a tech company and by no means I sell these devices! will you blame me for it as well?). just a note since these responses from you made you look less credible in my (a reader) eyes…

              I hope I didn’t offend you – I definitely do not mean any harm

              1. Thank you, nast. I had received emails from this person since I before I first posted this.. and he very clearly has an agenda. Perhaps it does not come across in the comments here. In his original email to me he described the product he sells and wanted me to help him promote it…and I told him I was not interested in more gadgetry for babies. (I honestly can’t remember the details, except that it is about providing entertainment for babies while they are uncomfortably stuck on their tummies for tummy time.) Then when I reposted this article on FB, he popped up again…”parsnip” is obviously not his real name. I don’t fault him for wanting to make money on an invention he believes in, but I don’t appreciate him using empty arguments here to try to validate it.

    4. My two boys NEVER had tummy time and they both met each gross motor milestone early. They had floor time and rolled from back to tummy when they were ready. They BOTH sat early, crawled early and walked early. My oldest walked at 9 months and my youngest at 8 months.

      I’m pretty sure that the 11 month old you enrolled didn’t have proper floor time and was probably put in devices too much.

    5. I gave my girls hadrly any tummy time (although my second daughter was often worn in a wrap sling, in aposition that allowed her back to retain its natural curve) and they were both crawling at 6 months ands walking at 9 months.

  2. Jess Hutchins says:

    Usually I find something interesting in these posts, but this time I am disappointed. I did not give my daughter tummy time for her flat head (she had torticolis which caused her to tend to look only in one direction). I gave her tummy time because lots of research says its good for developing the visual focusing required for reading. But my daughter’s physical therapist strongly encouraged tummy time, and several other exercises, for lots of reasons. Whether my daughter liked them or not. Sometimes challenge is good.

    1. My son had torticolis too and a gross motor delay. I worked with a physical therapist, chiropractor and on my own with him.
      Most often I felt that switching up the side he nursed on to encourage him to turn in the direction he didn’t like and holding him between my knees upright or on his belly worked best.
      Every child and parent is different. Tummy time just didn’t work for us. He walked later than typical and that’s ok with me. He’s now a healthy, active toddler with no signs of gross motor delay.

  3. Very interesting. I always heard from the dr. “so how much tummy time are you doing?” I felt all this pressure that it was required every day. I would try every now and again and most the time she hated it. She was a preemie and now 6 months old, healthy, rolling around everywhere, sitting up and starting to scoot!

  4. Love it. Thank you. What a fascinating video.


  5. As an early childhood teacher myself I see this on a daily basis. There are children in my care who I know have never had tummy-time and are developing perfectly, very confident and content to be by themselves to explore and practice their movements. I also have infants in my care who I know are propped up regularly and spend much of their time at home in exersaucers, jolly jumpers, bouncers and bumbos. These children are less content to be on the floor on their back or tummy and have rolled at a much later age than the children who are given back time.
    I have my preferences and opinions, and while I share with others and know not everyone shares the same view I know I am supported by research and literature and most of all that I listen and read the cues of my children.

    1. “exersaucers…and bumbos” – Love the names, hate that they’re so detrimental to infants’ natural development.

  6. Mark Shefsiek says:

    I am an ex-feldenkrais teacher and now a yogi. I also have a 7month old boy who is moving around very well. I have provided therapy in hospitals, in-home early intervention, and private practice. The reason I am no longer involved in traditional and alternative therapy is because of views and statements in this post.

    Equating tummy time with a spinal injection of Lidocaine is so over the top. Also kids not learning to sit at reasonable times is not just because they don’t get tummy time.

    Extreme views and statements are never helpful.

    So how did I do it with our precious one?

    First, no tummy time, no sleeping on back in empty crib.

    He co-slept mostly on his side and spent most all of his first months being held. We would occasionally put him on his stomach and if he liked it (didn’t yell please don’t torture me) we left him there until he was done. Most of the time we were tummy to tummy or side to chest as he was held. When he wanted to be held less he spent more time on the floor and started sleeping in the crib. When he learned to move to his stomach he slept there. ( the horror). Now he sleeps on his side, back, stomach. Can sit up and play with toys or eat with help and is beginning to crawl around.

    He moves around as well as any proud yogi could want for his child.

    My view is everyone needs to relax a bit and stop trying to shape the developmental path. I don’t agree with pediatric recommendations because they are the “best” policy for the aggregate but my child is an individual.

    So I listen to him. We are feeding him sooner and more variety than we planned because it is clear he wanted it and it makes him happy.

    We are vaccinating him faster than we planned and I don’t like the schedules but he has no adverse effects. So we are doing it even though in our minds we do not really like it.

    Seriously, listen to everyone, believe nothing because they are all just trying to validate their view and then do what you want. You only have one relationship with your child and you need to work out what is best between you and him/her. There is no right or wrong here if you listen to your child. There is plenty of wrong if you listen to “experts” that are generalizing and have no knowledge of your child.

    Please just listen to their needs and help them. You really do know how to do this if you just turn off the noise, and rules and expert advice.

    1. You’re lovely! This applies to every aspect of parenting…we all need to remember to just relax and do what feel right and works best for our children and ourselves.

    2. Thank you! I agree, the key to parenting is to be flexible and follow what works dor your baby. Articles like this are just more fuel on the “everything you’re doing is wrong” fire. Parenting is tough and we all do it differently.

      Also, lots of babies like tummy time and can communicate when they’re ready for it to be done. My son hated it at first, so I didn’t do it (and felt guilty). Now, he enjoys it and looks around, practices his front to back roll, and squawks when he’s ready for something new. I don’t want to feel guilty about that too.

    3. Thanks so much for sharing Mark! My baby is 3 months old, and we co-sleep, and she sleeps on her side, her front and her back. When Im in the kitchen, I place her on the floor (out of the way of course!!!) on a blanket on her back.

      When she was about a month old, when I had her on my front (tummy to tummy) she would lift her head, peer at me then collapse face first onto my chest. (Sigh…they’re so adorable, we parents are so blessed!)

      But back to the article- I think what Janet wants to highlight, isn’t parents such as yourself that listen and respectfully place babies on their bellies.

      I think the issue is people who don’t listen to their babies’ cues and rigidly implement it and adhere to it.

    4. Well said Mark… and you did it without forcing your opinion on everyone else.

      How can people rubbish things when they don’t have the information to back it up?

      I say, congratulations to those who find an alternate way to bond with their child other than tummy time.

      I do however object to people who tell others that it is wrong to do something which has been proven to be medically sound for infants with out any information to back up their arguments.

  7. What about those babies that seem to love tummy time?

    I am just wondering. I always followed my babies cues. I had 2 that hated tummy time so I never gave them any. I had 2 that liked it ok. So they got a little. Then I had 2 that LOVED tummy time and if they had their way they would only be on their tummies. My 3 week old wants to only be on his tummy. I put him on his back to sleep when he is not co-sleeping with me. However during the day in order to get him to sleep for more than 5 minutes at a time I have to lay him on his belly. I do this for a short sanity break for me. The Dr told me as long as someone was in the room with him he could sleep like this for a short time, so I do that.

    Seriously he loves tummy time. I guess I am just a little odd, I listen to my kids cues as long as it is safe and if the Dr says some tummy time (even if he falls asleep is ok with someone in the room) then I will let him get some tummy time.

    1. I placed my first baby on her tummy to sleep (because my mom suggested it) just before “Back to Sleep”, and before I was introduced to Magda Gerber’s approach to gross motor development. Because my daughter slept that way (and I was afraid to change this routine even when I learned that back was better, because I didn’t want to mess with her getting to sleep!) she was fairly comfortable on her tummy during her waking hours, too. No one talked about “tummy time” then, it was just another position to place the baby in.

      Generally, I agree with @Mark that we can’t go wrong listening to our babies. But I appreciated the new awareness I gained from Magda and RIE about giving babies opportunities to experience mastery whenever possible…and they don’t have that many possibilities as young infants, but rolling to the tummy is one that they do have! I’ve witnessed this moment of achievement many times over the years now and it never fails to delight the baby…and the lucky observers.

    2. Hi,

      What a great discussion! I’m chiming in late here, because I’ve been away for a few days, but wanted to share with you that when I was teaching RIE parent/infant classes in LA, I once had a Mom come to class with her two month old baby girl, and she told me right off the bat that her little girl loved tummy time, and was a wonderful sleeper, as long as she was placed on her tummy to sleep.

      The Mom was a second time Mom, but new to RIE. She said she’d be willing to try placing her baby on her back to play, but she didn’t expect it to go well. As she predicted, the baby started to fuss and then cry, and seemed very uncomfortable after just a few minutes of playing on her back.

      Her Mom tried soothing her by coming close, and talking softly, but the baby cried harder. Her Mom said, “She’s not tired, or hungry, and she wants to play, but she wants to be on her tummy.” So I said, “Well, let’s try her on her tummy then.” So her Mom told her baby she was going to pick her up, and place her on her tummy, and when she did, the baby stopped crying, and seemed more relaxed.

      She wasn’t able to do much in that position, but it surprised me that she could lift her head for a few seconds at a time, and she was content to be on her tummy for long periods of time.

      From that point on, we listened to the baby, and her Mom placed her on her tummy for play time.She enjoyed herself, and appeared to develop well, and soon enough, she could roll from her tummy to her back on her own. Even once she rolled, she mostly chose to play on her tummy.

      My belief and observation is that for most babies, most of the time, the back position is the most secure and comfortable starting position for sleep, play, and development, and babies who haven’t learned to roll yet have the most choice, and freedom of movement when in this position, BUT it is always a good idea to listen to, and take into consideration what the baby is telling us about what feels most comfortable for her (or him).

      1. The mother in your class is a testamony to my view – that all babies should be on their tummies from the beginning. We evolve as individuals the way we have as a race. We slither, we come up on two limbs, we crawl on four limbs, we walk on two limbs. Development happens from the top down and the middle out. That means the neck is developing first. We need to allow it to strengthen. And when we do babies are perfectly happy on their stomachs.

        1. Kate, babies strengthen their necks naturally and happily on their backs… Yes, babies needs lots and lots of tummy time, but only when they demonstrate readiness by choosing it…and they do! When don’t need to teach or force babies to do this. They do it naturally when we are patient and trust them. Trust in our babies gives them a wonderfully confidence-building message, too.

        2. 1st time mommy says:

          no offense kate but i dont believe that to be true. my daughter is almost 4 months old now and under doctors advisement ive been putting her on her tummy everyday since i brought her home (trying everything suggested to me to make her happier about it; getting on the floor with her, propping her on her boppy, placing her on the edge of the bed, putting her on my shins while im on my back and using toys in any of these given positions and my daughter HATES tummy time today just as much as she did then. and to be perfectly honest with you, im getting tired of doctors and people like u that make me feel like there is something wrong with my daughter because she doesnt like it and she refuses to move. just because it worked for u doesnt mean its right for all babies or theres anything wrong with babies that dont like it.

        3. Not all babies are happy in their stomachs. I am a new mother to a 9 week old baby who is just about getting over colic. Tummy time for him can be very uncomfortable and he cries out in pain. I have stopped tummy time for this reason as I felt it cruel to ignore his pain and keep him in a position that hurts, knowing full well that he can not do anything about it. So instead I have taken to sitting gim on my lap supporting him under his arms, that way he has to hold is own head up. I found that this worked really well as his head now stays up much longer with out wanting to flop down or wobble. I do not feel happy rushing my baby to do things he is not ready to do. But I do feel like people expect so much from such a little guy. In my heart I am proud with everything he achieves. Just to have him awake for an hour now with out crying because of his colic is amazing for me on its own. I want to enjoy watching this beautiful child grow and develop in his own pace, they only stay small for so long, and I don’t want to miss anything because I’m too busy racing him through each experiance before he is ready.

    3. Yeah, this article sounds pretty ridiculous when you have a kid who can’t roll yet but has excellent head control in tummy time and loves being on her tummy.

  8. I didn’t bother with Tummy Time as every time I put my first daughter on her front she really didn’t seem to like it.
    To me it seemed counter intuitive, and a bit of a fad.
    Small babies just like to be held and to look at faces. They like to be seen, interacted with, mirrored. In our car seat culture this simple need is often lost or forgotten.
    I don’t think there is any substitute for holding and carrying your baby as much as possible.
    Great article, thanks. x

  9. “Magda and RIE about giving babies opportunities to feel mastery whenever possible…and they don’t have that many possiblities as young infants, but rolling to the tummy is one that they do have! ”

    I do not understand this at all. Every moment is a feeling of mastery for a happy baby. Nearly every child can put their toe in their mouth. That is not the problem. The problem is the day they cannot

    1. Mark, you’re right…getting a toe into one’s mouth is a wonderful accomplishment, too. Have you seen infants do that while on their tummies? I looked through many photos of babies in tummy time on Flickr before choosing one for this post and, believe me, none of those babies were feeling a sense of mastery. And the captions the parents had written were all things like “Josh hates tummy time”, as if they needed to say it… The pictures said it all.

  10. I’ve had 3 kids, the youngest 16 months of age. I tried it tummy time once or twice with my first and he hated it. I never really bothered with my other two kids. As someone else mentioned, it felt counter-intuitive and somewhat fad-ish. I figured kids get flat heads from carseats and crib sleeping on their backs. We bedshare so that wasn’t really an issue for us. I spent more time holding my babies, talking and singing to them. They all walked, rolled, talked and all of that in their own time, like generations of children prior to them have. Children whose parents have never heard of tummy time, I’m sure.

  11. Elanne Kresser says:

    Thanks for the post Irene!!! As a Feldenkrais practitioner and an avid RIE fan for many years (I used RIE principles in my childcare groups) I’m making some discoveries with my new just-over-two-weeks-old baby girl. Discoveries that go contrary to what I thought before having a baby. She came out of the womb extremely strong. Put into the burp (head on my shoulder) position she started lifting her head immediately, as in hours after birth. She likes this position on the shoulder, and often lifts her head to look around and turn it from side to side. I support her with my hand but she finds the power through her back to do it and is quite content while doing it.

    Sometimes I nurse her with her laying across my belly while I recline in an easy-boy chair. She seems so comfy like this. At about three days old she fell asleep like this and I kid you not lifted her head off the nipple with the full use of her extensors. Her little back arched up in a beautiful, integrated head supporting curve. There was no sense of strain to it and she stayed asleep while she did it. And then she lied back down and slept flexed peacefully on my belly for the next hour or so. I was completely stunned. I didn’t think a baby this old could do that. But I’m discovering that she is in fact very strong, with amazingly balanced muscle tone. She uses both her extensors and flexors in far more developed ways than I expected of a newborn.

    I don’t put her into “tummy time” and all of her floor time is on her back, where she is very happy looking around, kicking her legs, and taking everything in. However there are times when I think she has a belly ache and the only thing that soothes her is to lie tummy to tummy with me or her dad. She lets us know pretty fast when she wants this and when she doesn’t.

    I think what I’m saying is that it seems less straight forward to me than it did before!

    1. Elanne, my daughter (born June 11) was just like that. I knew she would be with how athletic she was inside! She held her head up immediately and has only gotten stronger. At 3 weeks, she flipped from her tummy to her back using those neck and shoulder muscles. I am not worried about doing some sort of prescribed tummy time. She is in several positions throughout the day (as she enjoys them) and seems to be developing faster than her older sister did, who as the first born, got to be held and carried even more.

  12. We never did tummy time with either of our children, with my first I didn’t know it was ‘necessary’ and with my second well with 2 under 2 I just couldn’t find time. Both are hitting their milestones right on time.

  13. In my time caring for infants in long day care, I’ve known very few who enjoy being on their tummies; most have started to whimper the moment they’re put like that. The baby will tell you if he or she is enjoying it or not- we just need to listen! I give them the choice and LISTEN to the reaction, then turn them back if they hate it.

    My son was one who hated it, and I might add that he absolutely LOVED being in the much-maligned baby bouncer and baby walker (which were considered normal then); he was extremely alert (turned out to be highly gifted) and simply wasn’t happy unless he was upright where he could see everything going on. There have been absolutely no long-term consequences to him spending long periods in devices like this- he is super-fit and active with no postural or back problems.

    I think we need to lower the level of super-reactiveness to different/new philosophies and just listen to our child. Each individual child will let you know what feels right for them.

    1. “I think we need to lower the level of super-reactiveness to different/new philosophies and just listen to our child. Each individual child will let you know what feels right for them.”

      Aunt Annie, I couldn’t agree more!

  14. Canadian family doctor says:

    Usually I don’t identify myself as a physician but I am going to here!

    First of all — the medical world is also against the “containerization” of babies in exersaucers and bumbos and the like; a little is probably fine, all day is not! But I can’t agree that children don’t learn to move naturally unless they are left to figure it out on their own. Children learn to move naturally at their own times and in their own ways and with a variety of parenting styles.

    And as regards plagiocephaly — flat head — I’m not sure how turning one’s head from side to side on the floor is any more beneficial than turning it from side to side while sitting in a baby seat. Most of these devices might immobilize the child, but very few immobilize heads.

    Modern plagiocephaly prevention strategies include tummy time on the floor (which is meant to be brief) but also include positioning babies so that the pressure is off their heads in different ways, including face-to-face “chest time” on a parent, baby carriers, and, yes, the dreaded exersaucer. All these things improve core, as well.

    I object to the tone of posts like this. As a physician, am I supposed to feel guilty because I teach head-shape prevention positioning to parents? Or stupid, because I actually agree with some of the way the medical establishment interprets the studies? And as a parent, am I supposed to feel bad because my son preferred to be held, or to play in the exersaucer — from which he could see me cook — to the floor? He turned out to be a pretty agile little guy regardless.

    1. Doctor, I thank you for your detailed response. The last thing I wanted this article to cause is parental guilt (“physician guilt” had never even occurred to me). My hope was the opposite — that Irene’s insights, which mirror those of pediatrician Emmi Pikler and infant specialist Magda Gerber, would encourage parents to trust their instincts and listen to their babies. Many parents commenting on the various Facebook pages that have shared this have expressed their relief — wow! Maybe they don’t have to force their babies to do something that clearly makes them miserable. Babies cry enough as it is. Why make them cry needlessly?

      Yes, as parents we are all very sensitive about everything. There are lots of good ways to raise children! This is just one point of view on one issue to take if it helps and leave if it doesn’t.

      Your recommendations, I imagine, are based on your years of training, the studies you have read and your observations. Dr. Pikler and Magda Gerber observed thousands of infants developing motor skills naturally and autonomously. I have observed many myself. Out of many thousands of infants studied at the Pikler Institute, not one has had plagiocephaly. All were free to move in between feedings, diaperings, baths, and time asleep. Apparently, there is a new study coming out of France with similar findings. Pikler and Gerber also recommended “back to sleep” about 30 years before the campaign began.

      But, to answer your last question, NO, you are not supposed to feel bad about anything! Parenting is hard enough and there are way too many choices and points of view. And I’m sure you have a wonderful little guy.

    2. Physician – do not feel guilty (or stupid) about your work unless you are knowingly giving patients bad, or badly researched information (or information passed on from a drug rep.) Trust your experience and personal research. Same goes for parenting. Only you know what’s best for your infant, so no, don’t feel bad! Personally, I’ve seen hundreds of RIE kids – a pretty credible random sample – not one of whom had plagiocephaly. That’s the only info I have on the subject, but I’m comfortable with it.

  15. Lillian Sanpere says:

    I think posts like these alienate or madden people who think otherwise. Because it is an either/or opinion. The author cannot speak for every baby. My kids had tummy and back time. I put them that way, they did not ask nor could they tell me which way they wanted to be. If they were unhappy one way, I changed to another, or held them, or nursed them, or slinged them. All positions allow them to develop different muscles, I assume.
    Is it possible that a baby is unhappy on their tummy because they are unable to see someone who is high up and of course they cannot strain their head to look straight up? Just a possible explanation. My babies learned to go from tummy to back and back to tummy on their own schedule. What I did allow was to give them choices. And I listened to their cues.

    1. Lillian, I think the inability to see one’s surroundings (and loved ones) without straining is definitely one of the reasons babies dislike the tummy position.

      Giving choices and listening to cues sounds perfect to me.

    2. Maybe that’s why my baby likes tummy time – I’ve always done it in situations where it gives her something interesting to interact with. For example:

      On the couch beside me, facing outward, with the dog periodically coming over to wash her face.

      On her play gym that has pictures of a cityscape on the cloth that she can see best when she’s on her tummy.

      On her other play gym that has activity centers in the corners with fun stuff to grab, again only accessible if she’s on her tummy facing them.

      On the chest/belly of a reclining adult who is interacting with her.

  16. I did a bit of “tummy time” with my oldest and skipped it with my younger 2. My oldest was slowest to sit, walk & crawl. He wasn’t sitting on his own until around 8 months. My youngest, who was worn for hours most days, was sitting at 4 months and both crawling & cruising at 6 months. None of them ever had issues with their heads because I didn’t leave them lying on their backs. They slept on their sides & were only in car seats in the car.

  17. meggiemoo says:

    I’d be interested to know what the author thinks about carrying babies in arms or in carriers on their parents’ bodies as a good substitute for tummy time. Neither of my kids would sleep on their backs, so neither developed flat heads. They also hated bouncy seats, carseats and strollers. In arms was the only way to go, and I believe it helped them develop strong neck and back muscles.

    1. I’m interested in the same thing, meggiemoo! Janet mentions carriers among the list of restrictive devices. But, my baby girl just hated life separate from me for the first 9 months. I really loved watching the baby in the video, but my sweet girl worked herself into such tizzy every time I laid her down at all. We never did tummy time and barely did back time, either. While I didn’t obsess over her hitting milestones at a particular time, I think she was on schedule for everything.

  18. All of this saddens me a great deal. @Janet yes a lot of children hate tummy time and then parents are torn how to handle it. Make them suffer or skip or delay a whole range of experience.

    I have treated many children where parents say he hates this, she can’t do this etc. Then are shocked that with in 15 minutes they are doing it and happy. (not always but often).

    There is what I call exceptable levels of frustraition meaning they might not like it now but an hour from now it is ok. Growth is frustraiting but needs to be overcome and then there is joy/mastery.

    Then there is hating. Hating and extreme avoiding is probably due to another probably deeper problem. So my question is always if they HATE something, why? If it is normal ie many do not hate it, what intervention can I do so the master and maintain that ability and joy.

    Forget tummy time controversy for a moment. Some kids hate getting dirty I want them to love it and love the bath that follows

  19. I barely put my dd on her tummy as she had indigestion and reflux and it made her feel uncomfortable.She learnt how to roll when she was around 4 months.She had lots of floor time because I am ‘lazy’ mother and never bothered with buying any of those things I even don’t know what they are,except bouncer which was almost useless since she started rolling over.

  20. Elizabeth says:

    Interesting post and some good points. I wouldn’t go as far as to relate a baby being on his stomach to an adult being injected with a spinal anesthetic, though.

    Most babies I have known (I have worked with children my whole life and am a childcare provider by trade) lift their heads up on their own, shortly after birth. No one has to tell them to do this or artificially push their development. As I’m sure this blog teaches, babies are internally motivated to develop on their own, and one of those ways is by developing the head, shoulder, and chest control that is needed when lifting their heads. Even without “tummy time” per se, most babies tend to do this when being held with their head on your shoulder, on when laying down on your chest. A challenge? Yes, but babies put this challenge upon themselves.

    My newborn son has spent a huge part of his awake time on his stomach since birth. If he wants to lift his head, he does it on his own accord. Otherwise he simply lies with his head down and looks to the side – he does not need to strain to see his loved ones or surroundings.

    The benefit of spending so much time on his stomach? Well, in the ideal environment (a squishy, smooth, slightly inclined floor), he has been scooting since about 5 weeks old. At 8 weeks, he can scoot six feet in less than a minute. Talk about a sense of accomplishment for such a tiny baby! All those random arm and leg movements that were present at birth are now intentional movements, he knows how to dig his feet into the floor and push off to get places.

    I was taught that a baby on his back is somewhat like an overturned turtle – arms and legs flailing in the air, and in turn immobilized. By flipping babies over, they learn how to move. They learn about gravity, their body, and their relationship to it. They can learn some of these things on their backs, too (as demonstrated in the video), but not in the same way and not with the same speed as when allowed on their stomachs.

    Does he fuss about being on his stomach sometimes? Yes. He fusses sometimes on his back, too, or on his side, or whatever position he is in. But I think that is just being a baby. I don’t leave him there indefinitely while he screams, by any means. I just try again later, keep giving him the opportunity. I think most babies dislike tummy time so much because it is introduced too late after birth.

    I don’t think it particularly wise to downplay the importance of learning to use these muscles early on. Studies have shown that babies who sleep on their backs are slower to develop than those that sleep on their stomachs. The solution to that fact is for doctors to recommend tummy time, which has been scientifically shown to counteract the developmentally-slowing effects of back sleeping. Intentionally slowing the development of thousands of babies by denying them opportunity to be on their stomachs may have unintended and unknown harmful consequences.

    Plagiocephaly is indeed a concern, and I don’t believe that it is exclusively from “devices”. The rate of severe plagiocephaly has risen from 1 in 3000 to 1 in 50 since the Back to Sleep campaign, and although it is inconclusive it has been linked to learning problems, delayed motor development and other issues. Some view it as entirely cosmetic, but I don’t think it wise to suggest that flattening a baby’s head to the extreme I have sometimes seen has no effect on their rapidly developing brain. Often times plagiocephaly is related to tortocollis, issues with baby’s neck, as so turning their head back and forth while on their back is not an option. For such babies, never being allowed in their stomachs would be detrimental.

    I think a balanced approach is more needful. Back time is indeed beneficial. But so is tummy time. I think it would be wise to encourage parents to keep their babies on the floor rather than in so many devices, as you have done, but to also start early with tummy time so babies do not protest to this “new” thing introduced too late. Putting interesting things to look at next to baby so that he doesn’t have to necessarily lift his head the entire time is good advice, as is laying next to and talking to baby while they are on their stomachs. Tummy time pillows also lessen the work for baby. Completely eliminating the opportunity to be on the stomach until baby is old enough to roll over on his own is, in my opinion, unwise.

    1. Elizabeth, thank you, you make some valid points… But you lost me a little when you compared human infants to turtles. Try lying prone and then on your back and feel the difference. Even with all our adult strength and development we feel far less mobile and free on our tummies.

      The many infants I have studied, including my own, quite enjoyed their tummy time when they were ready to choose it by rolling into that position.

      It makes no sense to me to make an infant uncomfortable because we can’t wait a month or two for her to achieve tummy time. The message of trust and belief we give our children (when we are patient) is a gift that lasts a lifetime. Why are we rushing infants?

      1. Maybe you’re less mobile on your stomach, but that’s certainly not true for me. In fact, when I chose to lie down while also doing something, I’m almost always going to lie on my stomach or side – never on my back. I challenge you – get a pack of cards and try playing Solitaire while lying down. Are you going to lie on your back? Or will you be on your stomach propped up on your elbows?

  21. As a fellow Feldenkrais practitioner, (and one who specializes in working with infants including finding comfort in tummy-time) I would like to present a different view than the author of this article. First of all, isn’t development amazing – that it can take so many paths? While I believe RIE has some valuable things to offer, I find it sad to read the repeated idea of just getting out of children’s way and letting development take it’s course as being the best path. It’s a false premise because as dynamic systems theory tells us, parent and child are always developing together through relationships. This was not an idea that was prevalent when Magda Gerber created her method. There is no development that “just happens when the baby is left alone.” Parents are always involved in their baby’s development whether they do so with awareness or not. Development doesn’t “just happen” within the child, it is affected by many factors. Reading Gerber’s books, it is clear she loved babies, but I think she discounts the positive role of the parents and the importance of touch and human contact as well.

    Magda Gerber makes many of her recommendations for babies based on their level of free choice. I think this is why a lot of Feldenkrais practitioners seem to be drawn to Gerber – it meshes well with Moshe Feldenkrais’ focus on autonomy in his work (mainly with adults and older children). I can’t accept the premise that lying on the back gives a baby more choice than lying on the stomach. Many babies look quite lost on their backs, limbs moving randomly, and more calmed and quiet on their stomachs, where they are able to easily bring their hand to their mouth to self-soothe. Newborns have just spent 9 months in the womb. Was there a lot of room to move there? No! They were comfortably and tightly (especially in the last few months) contained. The idea that young infants need a lot of room for movement and to always be able to see their parents is a projection from adult needs. Infants can have times to be very inwardly focused on their bodily sensations and don’t always need visual stimulation. What could be wrong with lying on one’s belly, exploring the awareness of the body and having a wonderful view of one’s hand with a parent’s presence felt nearby?!

    I have tried to follow Feldenkrais’ model of not accepting anyone’s teachings on faith and looked to prove for myself whether RIE teachings actually jibe with what I can observe. In many ways they do not. If the author were to do the same (outside of the RIE community), I suggest she’d see many, many babies who are perfectly happy and comfortable in prone from day one. Even minute one! Many babies comfortably turn their heads while on the tummy right away. In fact, the first position many babies experience after birth is in prone on their mother’s breast. Many babies who are not as comfortable in prone can be helped using techniques of the Feldenkrais method to become comfortable on their tummy, often within a few minutes. I have helped many babies with this very issue. Babies’ experiences affect their development, we can handle them in a way that helps them find comfort and more options in many orientations.

    Something I’ve puzzled over for a while when reading RIE materials: Why does Magda Gerber suggest that lying on the back is the position that supports flexion? Babies flat on their backs are in extension much of the time! Also, younger babies don’t instantly go into extension in “tummy time” they typically draw up the legs and flex at the hip joints, possibly one a little more than the other, and flex their whole spine up to the head with the head turned slightly to one side. Tummy time doesn’t always mean lifting the head and neck as this article suggests. (and the paralyzed description of the baby on the tummy is absolutely over the top and just untrue in my experience) The common misconception is that lying on the belly is only important as an exercise. In fact, tummy-time, and side time for that matter aren’t just a work-out. It’s also valuable to lie in prone with the spine flexed with a leg up and out to the side for orientation and proprioception.

    Tummy-time wasn’t a popular phrase until back to sleep made it a rarity. For earlier generations, lying on the stomach was the most natural thing in the world. While I don’t recommend anyone go against back to sleep, it has caused many other issues – and refusal of lying on the stomach is now common. I suggest to parents that they find a more balanced approach and consider putting their babies on their bellies (on mom or dad’s chest perhaps) from day one. They’ll most likely find that their baby happily accepts the position – it won’t be something to do each day (i.e. did you remember to do tummy-time?) but just another way of being in the world.

    1. Dan, this is perplexing to me: “I find it sad to read the repeated idea of just getting out of children’s way and letting development take it’s course as being the best path.”

      How is it “sad” to know that infants are innately capable and can be trusted to develop in their own way and time? Do you believe that babies need to be taught to crawl and walk, too? Can’t they initiate these movements on their own?

      “It’s a false premise because as dynamic systems theory tells us, parent and child are always developing together through relationships.”

      YES, parent and child are always developing together. Our relationship is developing during each and every interaction. We can create a relationship in which we teach the child that WE know her body, her interests, and the activities she should be engaging in while she plays better than she does. OR, we can create a relationship in which we trust and support the child to show us what she is ready to do, the natural positions she is interested in assuming, the activities that interest her and her unique process of development.

      Which relationship model do you believe fosters a happier, more confident and successful child?

  22. I can totally agree with this. I can’t think of a single thing that make babies cry that are good for them. They cry because it’s not good. With my oldest, I started tummy time early because I was told to. She did ok with it for a little bit, but then started hating it. I refused to do something my baby hated so I stopped doing it. Everyone else’s babies were rolling over and I feared that she wasn’t because I didn’t give her tummy time, so I put her down and she immediately rolled. I did it again just so I knew it wasn’t a fluke and she rolled again, as if to say, “See Mommy, I don’t need tummy time!” She was held a lot and only saw her bouncer during meals as we did not have a high chair or when she was sleeping and got plenty of floor time since she loved to just wiggle. I plan to do the same with my youngest. I say do what feels right and listen to your baby and not the “experts” or wannabe experts.

  23. I liked this article mostly because it helps dispel the the tummy-time myth. With my son, I chose to follow the tribal model of carrying my son in arms or sling for the first several months of his life. That may not be REI, but it was where he was most happy. I found it beneficial because he could look around at the world as well as be close to his mama. I also liked that there was no way he could get a flat head. Carrying him around strengthened his neck a lot, for sure. At a certain age, they start to flex their backs to look around as you carry them. Then comes the lunging–when they try to lunge out of your arms, it’s time to put them down to discover their motility (not that I never put him down before, he just didn’t like it much until this stage). He started lunging at 9 months. He magically rolled back to tummy for the first time and then started scooting. My mom thought I held him too much and that’s why he did this later than average, but I know plenty of “in-arms” babies that crawled anywhere from 4-6 months. I was just following my baby’s lead. He crawled on hands and knees at 11 months, and was walking at 13. People kept commented what a good walker he was–they were actually very impressed he could walk so well.

    Everyone is blaming the back to sleep campaign for flat head, but I still see plenty of round-headed babies. The ones I see being carried about and napping in their car seats are the ones that seem to have the most flat heads. These baby-holding devices are unnatural and pose many problems.

  24. Rhiannon Sawhney says:

    This is all well and good, for a normally developing infant. My son was born with a Hypoxic Ischemic brain injury, and needs help developing motor. He has slight functional torticollis, and given the choice, would happily lay with his head turned to the left for hours on his back. For him and many others, tummy time is essential.

  25. Wow, in India we never put babies through tummy time and I would say that babies learn a lot of physical skills faster and achieve milestones earlier. I think the KEY is they get plenty of floor time and at least historically, Indians don’t use any types of restraining devices….no car seats, bouncers etc. I totally agree with this article!

  26. This is such a helpful article! We have to trust these little babies to follow their own developmental path. I wanted to add that breastfeeding, and all the muscles involved, also helps to shape baby’s heads and gives them time on their sides rather than only on their backs.

  27. I am a Feldenkrais Practitioner like Irene, but also a certified Infant Developmental Movement Educator. There is much more to do on the tummy than lift up on the head and arms. There are many other factors to why babies won’t be on their bellies, including the startle response that is induced when grownups bring the baby straight face-down to the floor. You can see that Baby Liv has not learned how to shift her weight in her belly crawl, so she is compensating–this is another skill that is learned by spending time on the belly.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Eliza, but I don’t understand your point. Babies who are allowed to roll to the tummy position when they are ready end up spending LOTS of time in that position out of choice. Are you saying that if parents don’t force that position in the first months that babies won’t garner all the benefits from it? From what I have observed over many years, that is completely false. I have seen a wide variety of infant belly crawls and all are “proper” in my book.

  28. My eldest hated it, and as a stupid first-time mom with PPD, I forced her to do it every day anyway. She screamed and screamed. I eventually figured out tricks–like putting her on her tummy with her head at the edge of the couch so that I could sit in front of her and talk to her. Holding her in the air over me and talking to her. Or propping her up on her “tummy” on the boppy so that she could see. Or putting Furby in front of her to entice her to look up. We had some serious flat-head issues for a while, but she rounded back out once I figured out those tricks.

    My second baby LOVED being on her tummy. If she was having a hard time settling, nothing worked like laying her tummy-down across my lap or arm and patting her–even as a newborn. She LOVED it. LOVED it. I rarely just put her on her tummy on the floor like I did with the first. No flat-head issues. Ahead on milestones.

    They’re all different! I agree that flat on your tummy on the floor has got to be infuriating.

  29. Another eye-opening post for me today! When I’d read about “tummy time”, I’d assumed it was synonymous with what we called “kicking time” where we let our little guys have free time moving of their own accord on a firm futon on the floor. If they wanted belly time, they made these wants known (looking at their eyes and where they were tracking/straining their heads to look) was a sure sign they wanted to move. If they had trouble after a few minutes and were getting fussy after some unsuccessful tries, we’d help them get started a little, but the movement was always initiated by them, whether into a roll, or twisting around to see something a little better. They were also pretty quick in learning to roll over on their own, so we really didn’t need to help them along much at all.
    Forcing a baby to stay in a position they are not comfortable with does not sound like a good idea to me, whether strapped in a car seat or left on their belly or back–if the baby is upset, their learning experience is not going to be optimal.
    Let’s not forget that babies who are allowed to move freely and do not have any developmental impediments learn to roll on their own within a matter of weeks.

    1. Thanks for your comment! You’ve nailed the piece that often gets left out of this conversation: “Let’s not forget that babies who are allowed to move freely and do not have any developmental impediments learn to roll on their own within a matter of weeks.” Babies can be trusted to develop properly in time. We don’t have to make these things happen, just provide plenty of opportunities!

  30. Rebecca N says:

    great post! Minimizing the baby buckets is one key to natural, healthy development. I also think it’s important to note, however, that walking early is not always a good thing. Babies should really crawl for a good, long time in order for their brains to to form necessary pathways. When a child walks at nine months because he/she wants to and does it on his/her own w/out pushing from parents,after a good long period of crawling prior it’s probably just fine. If my baby walked early, I would still encourage him/her to do a lot of crawling on the floor. And of course, the creeping — or pulling oneself across the floor with the belly on the floor absolutely vital to brain development. Skipping or going quickly through these phases can lead to problems down the road. Many professionals think ADD, ADHD and other learning difficulties can be linked to the rush to walk.I had one tell me that we’re giving our children disabilities by doing this. Early walking is not necessarily a good thing at all – not saying it’s always bad either. But the belief that somehow a who walks early is ahead of his peers developmentally may not be true. Chances are the kid who crawls for 4 or five months is actually ahead in brain development and will have fewer problems down the road.

  31. Laurence P says:

    Good morning,

    I have a very small experience in raising babies following the RIE principles. I have an almost four months old boy, and I’ve learned about your approach only two weeks ago.

    But I already saw something about tummy time. I have been trying to put my son on his tummy every day since his “pédiatre”told me to do so two month ago. I began during diapering time, and then during playing time. When tried during the latter, tummy time was not popular, the baby was fussing and obviously unconfortable.
    Then I read one of Magda Gerber’s book, and I decided I will not put him in this position, except when I needed it on diapering time since he seemed to dislike it.
    It lasted a whole week, with some difficulties because the baby was used to be in his bouncer seat for long periods during the day. One monday, I was tired, the baby was really difficult, fussing and wanting to be nursed all the time. At one time, “en désespoir de cause” and almost frantic, I decided to try to put him on his belly (mostly because I felt I had tried everything else). For one thing he stopped fussing. And then what was my surprise to see that he had gone really better at it ! Without beeing put on his belly for one week he had nonetheless developped some usefull skills for the tummy position. My guess is that he developped his back muscles when trying to roll on his side. This convinced me that by beeing on his back he had learned a lot to be confortable on his tummy.

    The trouble now is that I have to convince others : his dad, and in a few month, the people who will take care of him during the day…

    PS : You spoke of a French research about tummy time. Do you happen to know where I can find it ?

  32. Wendy Thayer says:


    Thank you so much for this post! This is the first time I have read the argument against tummy time and it really resonates with me. My little guy (3 mo.) hates tummy time an it left me feeling like he would not learn to lift his head properly if I did not make sure he spent time on his tummy. I now know that it is okay to let him get there when he is ready! Thanks!


    1. Wendy, yes it certainly is okay to let him get there when he’s ready…in fact a million times better than okay. Please let me know when the exciting day comes that he learns to roll…

  33. Maybe my daughter is weird but she always loved tummy time. She is now 8 months old and rolls, sits up and does her odd version of getting around but she has always enjoyed time on her tummy and time on her back.

  34. My 5mo son is struggling with tummy time. He hates it and i only give him tummy time about twice a day, if that, for about 2minutes before he starts screaming. He loves his Bumbo and his bouncer and sometimes his back. He is slowly learning when he grabs his toes he can roll onto his side. I live in a world of guilt, and depression for whenever i go to the health nurse i get told i’m under developing him by not putting him on his tummy. His little teary eyes look at me and say pick me up mum why are you doing this to me? I can’t do that to him. But, i am ultra upset as he has shown no intention of rolling over, no intention of sitting by himself. My instincts tell me all the time to follow his cues. But because i’m such a bad mother for not putting him on his stomach, the frustration i hold with him, me and the health nurse is affecting our relationship. So so sad that we are told to do things that our children don’t want to do. My mother never gave me tummy time because it never existed. But omg i am so worried 🙁

    1. Jorja, 5 months would be extremely early to be sitting up and is well within normal range for rolling over. From my years of experience witnessing natural motor development, your issue is not about a lack of forced tummy time, it is the Bumbo, the bouncer and any other apparatuses he spends his awake time in. If I were you I would work diligently on getting your baby used to floor time on his back. Since he used to being upright in the Bumbo and bouncer, it will take a little time and your patience for him to make the transition, but he will do it sooner than you think. I’ve written guidelines for doing this a few times (and I’ll go try to find the links).

      Free movement is the key to babies reaching all of their milestones. We can totally trust nature if we give our babies freedom to move! So, don’t worry, Jorja, but get rid of the restrictive devices. Could something called a ‘Bumbo’ really be good for babies? 🙂

  35. look you all need to chill…my baby niece absolutely loves tummy time…she has since day one…it brightens her day…she screams if she is not on her tummy…

  36. Ashley Newton says:

    Hi there!,
    I am excited about this post because it is bringing up something I am very passionate about….tummy time 🙂

    I am a certified Infant Development Movement Educator, through the School through Body-Mind Centering. Body-Mind Centering (BMC) is a somatic modality, just like Feldenkrais. BMC has a specialized training just to work with infants.

    I agree with not using seats or devices that restrain and inhibit movement, and push a child to be at a developmental level they are not ready for. In my practice I have found that many baby’s movement development flourishes once they get lots of time for free play on the floor.

    I disagree that it is inappropriate and uncomfortable for baby’s to be on their tummy. I think it is necessary for babies to be on their belly to develop specific movement pathways that cannot develop on the back. We have found experientially that laying on the belly can also help a baby (and adult for that matter) engage the parasympathetic nervous system, and relax tension in the digestive system. It is a great place for them to develop strength, and build a strong sense of self.

    I , and the School for Body-Mind Centering, recommend placing babies on the floor on all sides (back, both sides, and front) from the very beginning of their life. It is just as natural for a baby to lay on her side or tummy as it is for her to lay on her back. Choosing the back as a neutral place over any other side of the body doesn’t make sense to me. Human are made to lie in many different positions, with a variety of orientations to gravity.
    It has been my experience that many babies don’t enjoy tummy time, because they aren’t placed there very often and when they are it is abrupt and disruptive. This actually is related to the ‘back to sleep’ campaign. Many babies is this culture never have the experience of resting on their bellies, so they don’t know how. If babies are invited to rest and cuddle on their belly’s when they are young, they often can find great ease there. They will let you know when they need a change in position, just like they do when they are one their back.
    If tummy time is uncomfortable, there are many experiences that may help babies be happier.
    —–A great place to start a very young baby on tummy time is laying on the chest or belly of a caregiver. It can be a great place for babies to sleep, as long as a caregiver is supervising.
    —–Come down on the floor with your baby, so that she doesn’t feel alone their.
    —– A smooth transition onto the belly is REALLY supportive to help babies feel safe there. You can help your baby, with your hands, to lay on her side and rest and potentially play with some toys. Then you can help her slowly roll to her belly.
    —– If a baby is upset on her belly, you can help her roll to her side and back. This will help her build the movement pathways she is trying to figure out.

    A lot of this is hard to imagine, I hope to be making some videos soon!

    I am happy to be having the conversation.

    1. Ashley, I agree that tummy time is extremely important to development, but your approach is based on the assumption that babies will not spend adequate time on their tummies (or the side position) unless we make it happen for them. I could not disagree more with that point of view. Babies choose to spend lots of time on their tummies when they are ready. This attitude that we cannot trust babies to know the positions they are ready to be in does not bode well for fostering intrinsic motivation, healthy learning skills, self-confidence or a quality parent/child relationship.

      I agree with the benefits you mention, but they are worth little (in my opinion) if they are not baby-led, child-initiated. Gross motor development and free play are the only opportunities for infants (at a dependent stage of life) to express themselves and be autonomous. Why can’t we relax and trust babies to do these things? Why is it so hard to believe babies are capable? As Magda Gerber said, “Readiness is when they do it.” Babies don’t need adults to show them the way…and all we really do when we position and teach babies is get in their way.

  37. As a caregiver who has worked with infants and toddlers for over ten years, I love watching babies develop and grow, at their own paces. But nothing has brought me more joy than to watch my own daughter develop. And she is so confident and deliberate in her movements! We mostly put her on her back to play, but she has also slept on her tummy from about 6 months, so was comfortable there and rolled out of that position when she was finished. I never forced any position on her and I love the way she has learned to trust her body. It is so wonderful to see her experimentation as she has progressed from rolling over, to scooting, to climbing, to crawling, to pulling up, to cruising. I will be thrilled to see her take her first steps, but I am so happy just watching her move her body and take joy in doing so. I feel lucky to have trusted my baby and my instincts and to see that confidence in my daughter now.

  38. Jehefinner says:

    Tummy time is a pointless thing. If babies are cared for naturally; carried in soft carriers, held in arms and on laps, they develop upper body, head and shoulder control in their own time. Babies get flat heads because they spend too much time in baby swings, seats and on playmats, take them away from these hard flat surfaces and keep them held (slings or arms) they acquire the ability to move themselves at their own pace, and don’t get squashed deformed skulls in the process.

  39. What a thought-provoking post! Janet, I love it when you do this for us! I’d also like to applaud all the support for stripping parents and physicians of guilt for doing what they feel is best for their child. You are right, parent is hard enough without all the pressure of being ‘right’!

    As many posters mentioned, listening to the child is key. A little frustration or challenge can be productive, but too much too soon is counterproductive. If a child is screaming and crying when introduced to tummy time, they are telling us something loud and clear. Listen!

    I’ve worked with infants and toddlers for 12 years (how can that be already?!) mostly in lab-school settings and positioning of infants has always been an interest of mine. Tummy time, to me, has always been a carefully planned activity, not a positioning choice. It is also done with children who seemed to have a need, desire, or readiness to engage in it. I’d like to propose a few times that maybe be beneficial, even if placing them there isn’t natural.

    As many of the posters have suggested, we practice tummy time face-to-face or side-by-side. The key for us is that they have attention, social support, and are carefully observed during the activity. Walking away from a child placed on their stomach who is unable to roll may not be the best idea for many reasons. For example, tiring-out in a puddle of spit-up would be really ‘un-cool’ for lack of better words. Playing on the back, where they are less likely to tire and get stuck with spit-up or drool by turning their heads would be a much kinder way to spend time along.

    Also, paying attention to timing, situation, and environment should play a large role in choosing when or if to introduce tummy time. Here are a few situations I’ve chosen (and believe me, I don’t often choose to place children in positions they can’t move out of).

    Timing: Sometimes I get a kiddo who has trouble burping and is very uncomfortable being burped and from not being able to get it out themselves. A little tummy time can be just the ticket as the child attempts to push up, some air can come out. I should take the happy photos of those moments for Flicker for Janet!

    Situation: Sometimes you have a child whose parents do use containers a lot and have not given their child the opportunity to practice skills such as rolling to tummy time. Or times when a child has been ill and has lost a little strength for a skills they were previously interested in doing. Basically, I’m talking about intervention.

    Environment: From time to time you get that little one who just drools incessantly! When left on the back, they can get that red, itchy, smell drool rash really quick in warm, moist climates. Picking a time to let them rest and play facing forward is a nice way to let their skin dry and heal. Of course if they are crying and sweating… it’s time to listen and find another approach. If the ground is hard and uncomfortable when lying on the back sometimes lying on the stomach is more comfortable. Or if there is something above the child that bothers them, like too much light flashing through leaves on trees, it is sometimes much nicer to rest on the tummy with a teacher chatting than to squint in the light.

    Now that I’ve been verbose, I’ll sum it up. Listen, observe, and challenge if necessary. And please don’t leave a child on their tummy unattended if they can’t get themselves out.

  40. Loved this post and the video was beautifully done. I have not pushed tummy time with O (six months) but she never seemed to mind it so we definitely enjoyed a few minutes a day. Now she actively rolls on her tummy. I have a couple questions if possible: 1) she’s started rolling in bed…is there ever a concern with SIDS if they sleep in that position? 2) Although O rolls wonderfully to her tummy, she has not yet figured out how to roll back. Often times she eventually gets so exasperated, frustrated (?), and seemingly distressed I physically roll her back. Sometimes if I leave her if she is not too upset, she eventually falls asleep on her tummy. Am I doing her an injustice by helping her roll back even though she is so upset?

  41. I can count the number of times I did “tummy time” with my daughter on my fingers alone (I finally gave up on this as she hated it). She started walking at 9 months and 1 week and now nearly 10 months old, she walks around like a much older child and can nearly run. I just listened to my baby, allowed her floor time when she was ready, and wore her in a sling when I could (though not nearly as much as I had wanted to). Tummy time (as in place baby on the floor on their tummy) is absolutely stupid and overwhelms the baby. You can do tummy to tummy time (placing the baby on your tummy while you are laying down) and you can wear your baby- both are biologically appropriate ways of shaping neck control. When baby has neck control, they can be placed on the floor and encouraged to roll over.

  42. In my own practice as a speech-language pathologist/feeding therapist and infant massage instructor, I have found that babies like/need a variety of body positions from birth (on the back, on the side, on the belly). I think it is problematic that babies are placed for long periods of time in carriers, swings, etc. that don’t allow them to move naturally.

    In support of belly time, take a look at the natural breast feeding position where the baby wiggles his/her way up to mom’s breast and latches. This baby is on his/her belly right after birth.

    We also need to remember that it only takes three weeks to develop habits, so babies who don’t get any belly time experience probably won’t like it.

    Also, belly time does not necessarily mean putting a baby flat on the floor or bed on his/her belly, particularly for a newborn. Babies like belly time at an angle on mom’s or dad’s belly or chest. They make a lot of eye contact this way.

    I recommend Lois Bly’s book “Motor Skills Acquisition in the First Year: An Illustrated Guide to Normal Development” and “Your Amazing Newborn” by Klaus and Klaus as references for parents and therapists who would like to explore this topic further.

    Thank you for the opportunity to respond to this article.

    Diane Bahr, MS, CCC-SLP
    Author of “Nobody Ever Told Me (or My Mother) That! Everything from Bottles and Breathing to Healthy Speech Development”

  43. Thank you, Diane. I agree that babies like/need a variety of positions…and the best way to know what they need/like is to trust them to show us. When babies are given the time and freedom necessary to develop motor skills naturally, they will choose all of the positions you mention and many more that aren’t commonly on people’s lists. Why complicate something that is so simple? Just trust nature and your babies.

    1. Well, if you do not at least occasionally propose tummy time to them, they cannot choose it. The possibility to try different positions , at an age where they cannot get in any of them by themselves, seems a prerequisite to the freedom you mention. Instead, you choose for them that they have to be on their backs, and force them to stay there until they are able to get out of this position by themselves and roll on their tummies, which usually takes about 4-5 months.

      1. Very limited thinking, Belsha. As someone who has worked with infants for 20 years, I can assure you that they make many, many choices to do things that they were never shown, taught or forced into by an adult. The tummy position is one of them.

  44. Dee Clifft says:

    What amazes me is the argument that, ‘medical professionals said this, evidence proves that’…So what?…mother nature rules. Babies LOVE tummy time…WHEN they can achieve it themselves.

    Why do we need ‘evidence’ to prove that they NEED to be GIVEN tummy time? Honestly…hold your baby/carry your baby, put your baby on the floor when it’s safe to do so. That is all babies need. Everything else is hot wired in their brains.

    The chairs/swings/bumbo’s exersaucers ..Pahh!

    Babies bring their hands together to fine ‘midline’…they do this naturally and at exactly the tight time for them…But wait, lets make a commercial device to ‘bring’ their arms together 5 times per hour and ‘create’ some ‘evidence’ which will prove this is NEEEDED in order to will pass their driving test before they are 10 yrs old.

    Just let them be…babies didn’t get flat heads years ago, it was NEVER a problem… prolonged use of bouncing chair/car seat carriers (when not being transported in a car) are what cause the problem of flat heads. Prior to the invention of these devices, babies lay flat on their backs or where held/carried. If they are flat on their backs they move around and flat head doesn’t occur. If they spend long periods of time in a ‘seat’ flat head occurs. Easy answer…don’t use seats..hold or floor.

    If only ‘medical evidence’ would butt out of interfering with normal/natural process’ around child development. Evolution over 3 million years as done a pretty cool job of getting things right…If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it, i say!

  45. I only have one daughter who is 5 months old now. From the beginning we did tummy time. She never liked it much at first, so I’d just leave her there until she cried usually a few minutes only. However she had strong neck/great head control very early, and rolled early also.
    Now she loves her tummy as she is trying to crawl.
    Since one story doesn’t make a statistic, all I can say is that for us tummy time appears to have been a “good thing” going by her developmental milestones. But who is to say that if we had not enforced tummy time so early, she wouldn’t still be in the same place she is now.

    I do think it’s a bit silly to claim that tummy time is bad and unnecessary. Generally I hate all blanket statements about stuff that is rhetoric. The post contains no links to studies or proof of any sort and therefore is an opinion article masquerading as fact. Either way I am not saying tummy time good or tummy time bad, only that like most things it probably “depends” so claiming people should just stop doing it is probably not the best idea.

    My baby doesn’t like when I suck snot out of her nose. She HATES it in fact. I’m sure when she can get at the boogers herself she will gleefully remove them (and then eat them). Going by your logic, she is not ready to do it herself, me doing it for her makes her angry, therefore it is best not to do it? just an example of why the fundamental argument behind this opinion piece is flimsy.

  46. I love this! My little one definitely doesn’t like being on her tummy & is Very upset when we try tummy time. She’s 3 1/2 months old and when put on her tummy she arches her back in a U to keep her head arms and legs off the floor.
    By contrast, she Loves being on her back and can already turn herself over from that position.
    I was wondering if this would affect her ability to learn to crawl, but this article was very reassuring. Thanks! Mel

  47. I think we can all agree that the true importance is floor time. However, as a pediatric physical therapist, I must chime in that babies should experience a variety of positions throughout their day, including on their tummies. Lying on the stomach is no less “natural” a position for an infant than lying on her back. Some babies even prefer it, and many parents have fretted because their baby sleeps better on her tummy, but they know babies should sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS. So this idea that “all babies hate tummy time” is unfounded.

    I do think that the term “tummy time” is not well-defined. Some parents may imagine this to mean they are to place their newborn on his tummy and leave him there, even if he is crying, for some pre-determined amount of time, in order to get the benefit of tummy time. I encourage parents to put their babies somewhere where the infant is content — lying on his mama’s chest, for instance. Or gently roll a baby onto his tummy, lie down in front of him to make eye contact and give reassurance that you are right there, and limit the time to as long as the child is content. If that is for 10 seconds, then make sure you are limiting the time to 8 seconds next time so that you can pre-empt the fussing with comforting snuggles. The baby will likely grow more and more comfortable with being on his tummy this way, for longer periods of time — all the while learning to lift his head, strengthening neck and back muscles, and getting important sensory information from being in this position.

    I think that the idea of tummy time has arisen from a need to combat the increased time in “positioners” — carseat carriers, jumpers, exersaucers, bouncers, etc, as well as the unintended effects of the Back to Sleep campaign. Indeed the most important thing is to limit use of these devices and provide unrestricted floor time during waking hours. But I believe tummy time can be a part of that floor time, and can be a positive experience for both baby and parent.

  48. I know this is an older blog and posts. However, I felt compelled to post a comment. I find that many people are missing the point. I have a master degree in applied kinesiology, and regardless of what position parents decide to put their babies in, the important thing is “free movement.” A position alone does not build muscles it is “movement” [and in the case of unstable positions – maintaining a position] is what develops strong muscles and motor skills.

    I think what tummy time accomplishes is getting parents to put their babies on the floor for some free movement [not in a restricted device.]. However, I think encouraging your baby to move and interacting with your child on that level is even more important.

    From my personal experience, my 5 month old still cries during tummy time. We have been giving her tummy time since she was around 2 weeks old. She is much more interested in lying on her back and rolling to her side, sitting up unassisted and standing assisted. So, do I feel like she is behind on her motor skills and not progressing correctly?! NO! She is just interested in other things right now. Do I completely avoid tummy time? NO! It is just does not consume all of our playtime during the day. I do it to introduce something new and challenging to her because as a parent I feel that is part of my job. On the other hand, I do not make it a big deal either.

    I appreciate the article and all of the posts. This is an interesting debate.

  49. I used to just hold my son with his head on my shoulder most of the time as a newborn and by 7 weeks he was holding his head up just fine. Since I held him a good portion of the day he never did develop a flat spot. I did use a Moby Wrap on occasion as well. We didn’t really do too much tummy time, although we did do it one or two times. Eventually he just did it on his own. He was sitting up unsupported of his own accord at 4 months. Babies all develop at their own pace. I think tummy time has a place if the baby is in a crib or car seat all day long, but if you are able to hold your baby a lot or lay him or her down on a flat surface (like the floor) then you really needn’t worry too much about the practice.

  50. Wish I had seen this before we spent hours enduring tummy time with our daughter who has Down Syndrome. I wish so much I could go back 4 1/2 years and wear her instead.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More From Janet

Books & Recommendations