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 never saw the point of “tummy time” on the floor for my babies in the early months. They seemed to get plenty enough of it when lying chest to chest on their dad or I. Later, when they could roll by themselves, they got it of their own volition. The whole idea of “tummy time” seems very contrived to me. What’s the need if you spend plenty of time holding and lying with your baby?

    1. I agree our daughter uses her muscles a lot when she is on our chest. She has been rolling onto her side now on the floor so its a matter of time before she can roll all the way over. She is held a lot but is very very strong and holds her head up very well. I think babies’ bodies know when they need to reach their milestones.

    2. The Case against Tummy Time seems not very well researched. Tummy time does include lying on Mum or Dad’s chest, across lap, winding etc. The claim that “Most” babies do not like it seems unfounded. Left for long periods yes of course babies will get uncomfortable. Its only supposed to be for as long as the baby can tolerate. An increase in motor delays due the lack of “tummy time,” is the number one contributor to the escalation in cases.

      1. I completely agree Julia. This is entirely untrue : 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. As a Pediatric Occupational Therapist for 20 years, I hope resonable intellegrent mothers look at this as only another point of view. This can work for babies as strong and capable as the one above but there is another way – the way we teach everything to our children. We guide them to the precess they are to learn. We need to participate in it with them. Tummy time begins day 1 of life: baby lays on the mother or fathers chest. We guide and teach from that position until the neck control – used for breast or bottle feeding – will be used for prone tummy time on the floor.

      2. Julia you are absolutely right! This is ridiculous. I will avoid finding a way to fully identify myself but I have 25 + years of experience as a pediatric therapist and have a doctorate degree (research degree). Kids need a variety of movement experiences…

        1. You are welcome to your opinion, but please know that there are many experts in field that disagree with you, beginning with the M.D. who pioneered Natural Motor Development, pediatrician Emmi Pikler: As a pediatric therapist, one would imagine you’d wish to research this issue thoroughly. But apparently not.

          Here’s a progressive perspective from Anat Baniel that is supported by leading physicians and pediatricians globally:

          Here’s more of the latest research:

          1. Rachel Henry says:

            I’ve had three clients goes through the AB method with absolutely zero progress. for months, they were instructed to have no other therapies, and thousands of dollars were spent for naught. Here’s the problem with dogma, you can’t apply it to everyone…..I’m always wary of dogma…

          2. Oh, please. “One would imagine you’d wish to research this issue thoroughly, but apparently not.” Wow, aren’t you quite the professional!

            I’m a pediatric physical therapist as well. We eat, sleep, and breathe the most current research. In my professional opinion, I find this concept to be silly and this type of advice to be dangerous. MAYBE some TYPICALLY developing babies don’t “need” tummy time because they are able to learn to get themselves in/out of prone/supine positions independently, but children with early neuromotor disease or developmental disabilities that have not yet been diagnosed are at risk of developing a flat spot if we don’t assist them to be positioned in a variety of positions.

            Do we say “oh you need 20 min straight of flat on your tummy”- no. that’s insane. We give advice to parents on giving infants a variety of positions throughout the day to help minimize flatness that is already occurring or to prevent it from happening in the babies we can foresee will be developing the problem (any skilled pedi PT/OT can quickly assess children with abnormal movement patterns from birth onward, and yes there’s tons of evidence to back up what “normal” vs “abnormal” movement patterns are from the moment a child is born).

            Articles like this are detrimental to modern parents, who are armed with a plethora of either misinformation or highly generalized information that may not apply to their specific child. Parents need to get off their iphones and stop reading hype articles, and interact with their children… pay attention to their infant’s movements and development… and seek advice from their local experts who can actually come into their home to assess their children personally (i.e. local Early Intervention providers) and give them a PERSONALIZED approach to what will work best for their development. No two children are the same. No two families are the same. Information like this cannot be generalized to the entire population.

          3. This article is the biggest pile of pseudoscience nonsense I’ve read for years. It is completely wrong, just so wrong. You need to read up on child development

    3. Alesia Backmon says:

      Barbra, I agree. While raising my babies, I never used tummy time, and never heard of it Some thirty years ago, my children did just find. I would lay them on their bellies on my chest as well and also when my child was ready, they started rolling, scooting, and crawling

      1. Just to clarify, laying babies on parents’ chest IS a form of tummy time.

  2. Just wondering what your thoughts are of propped up tummy time ? I was encouraged to prop my baby up with her arms over the top of a small towel roll. From memory I think she had just started making the effort to roll but wasn’t actually doing it at that point.

    1. KC – thank you for asking… I think it’s totally unnecessary to prop or position babies. When we do this we “freeze” them in a position that we think they should be in, rather than trusting and allowing them to choose the positions they are ready for.

      1. Until a baby can roll on their own they don’t choose a position to be in…we as adults place them on their tummy or back.

  3. Thank you! I always felt a little weird about it but EVERYONE was saying how important tummy time was. Good thing I was kind of a slacker about it.

  4. Amy Appel says:

    I’m expecting my first baby in a few months and I totally agree with the RIE philosophy on just about everything, including tummy time. However, I just googled “positional plagiocephaly” and found a bunch of mainstream articles that basically said my baby will have a flat head if allowed to be on his/her back for extended periods of time. What is your experience with this? Do you know any RIE babies who got positional plagiocephaly? Is this just fear and hype? Maybe I shouldn’t have looked it up b/c it sounds scary!

    1. As far as I am aware from my own readying and research no babies at the PIKLER institute(Have a google) ever got a flat head and were never ever placed into any position they couldn’t get into/out of themselves.

      Babies on there backs naturally move their head from side to side when listening and looking at things, this is only prevented if they are frequently ‘contained’ in bouncers, carseats etc.

      1. Rachel Henry says:

        Except when the plagiocephaly is caused by their position in Usero, and they can move their heads back and forth because the shape prevents it, so they end up with torticollis. Be careful of giving blanket answers

  5. I understand it in theory but it doesn’t quite explain the fact that my first son preferred being on his tummy from birth. It was years before the Back to Sleep campaign so I let him sleep on his tummy all the time.

    I agree that SOME babies probably feel very uncomfortable but to say that ALL babies feel this way is just ignorant.

    1. Julie, it seems you’ve misread the article, which states that most, but not all young infants are uncomfortable in the tummy position because they are immobilized. This immobility is the reason some babies sleep more soundly on their tummies and also why it is associated with SIDS.

  6. “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.”

    Ok no, that’s not how the curves are formed. First of all, when you are born your back is concave (aka, you already have your thoracic, and sacral curves.) when the baby first starts lifting its head, that’s when the cervical curve forms and when the baby starts standing upright is when the lumbar curve forms.

    While I can understand not wanting to make your baby uncomfortable, they are not paralyzed. The whole purpose is to strength the muscles and get neural coordination to start movement control. Hence, by making them try to use their muscles, they should be able to control their movements faster. And it would not be necessary to leave the baby on their stomach for long periods of time to do this.
    so I’m sorry, I don’t really understand what you are trying to get at here because so far most of what you say just sounds ridiculous to me. Most scientists don’t tell you to do it to prevent a flat head, they say it to help develop muscle and coordination.
    Will a child’s motor skills be fine if they don’t do tummy time? For sure. But don’t go saying that its a bad thing to try and help the development of it. I feel like a bigger concern should be when to submerge your baby underwater when swimming. In that situation, I feel a baby truly is helpless. But a couple minutes on it’s stomach won’t hurt it.

    1. “Hence, by making them try to use their muscles, they should be able to control their movements faster.”

      I think you found the RIE point right here: Though I’m not at all an RIE expert, I think that “making” babies do things rather than trusting them to move at the right for them pace is what’s being questioned. Babies will learn to lift their heads without anyone coaxing it out of them; why rush and deny them the freedom to explore movement at their own pace? It seems to me that childhood is a process and we’re trying to skip it for immediate “results”. People spend fortunes learning how to “be in the moment” yet we encourage babies to hurry up the process of becoming. We are born with a thirst for knowledge, we needn’t be “made” to learn (and frequently the making kills the process of learning).

    2. Early development of muscle tone via turning and rolling from supine is crucial in proper spinal alignment. Laying on the stomach (and thus tummy time) could lead to developing lower back and hip muscles that are too tight causing hyperlordosis, or an extreme curvature of the lumbar region of the spine.

    3. Thank you for your critical review of this article. It completely ignores the processes of reflex development, ocular motor development, respiratory development and anti gravity control that is dependent on prone activity in infancy. Nor does it refer to the increase in digestive problems that have occurred since ‘back to sleep’ scared parents from putting infants on their stomachs even for awake and alert play. Equating prone positioning to paralysis is incredibly ridiculous. Babies have been placed on their tummies for eons and allowed to develop anti-gravity motor skills naturally. Normal development scales are based on that practice.

      Now, due to the small percentage of infants succumbing to SIDS (for reasons not proven to be the result of sleep position), parents are discouraged from putting babies on their bellies by doctors and the kinds of arguments made in this article. And babies are taking longer to establish core motor control, having more digestive problems, having to use compensatory motor patterns to accomplish what used to be a steady progression of developmental skills, both gross and fine. We’re seeing a generation of children with poor postural alignment, less then optimal respiratory control, working harder to achieve fine motor skills and with more attention difficulty. And, yes, in many cases these can all be traced back to lack of antigravity motor development associated with prone activity.
      As for “forcing” babies to use their muscles – there is a real lack of understanding the process of motor development, here. Babies muscles are “activated” by nervous system mechanisms that are integrated with gravity (primitive motor reflexes). Therefore, all positions in gravity are needed to achieve adequate interaction and motor skills.

      1. I agree with Eilenn. I work with infants and chaild development more than 10 years. The process how baby use the whole self in tummy is vital for optimal activation of the flexors and extensors. They get activated because of moveing and not because baby get old enough. There is natural power in each infant – to move. The reflex of flexion need to be used as a natural force in born human, because is there. Infat pulling knees under the tummy and move the spine wich is only one curve first – only to left and right and that iniciate aktivation to get proper muscle interact and here is the link for the spine to organized rotation in neck and lumbar part. If baby is on stomac from day 1. – no metter where – on parent, on legs, on bed, on flor – get link to activation of the use of self. If the baby is put on stomach first time at month 2 or 3+ they for sure don’t like it, because of lack of moveing left and right and not use flexion reflex to activate band and first turn head, what activate rotation in the spine – first in 7Th.
        The baby if you roll first on stomach in the optimal way activate the natural link to optimal organization of the sceleton and control of the head start to get the function for what is the purpose of human function. Then comes to Lombar rotation. And for sure coming from back to stomach comes first with rolling and much leiter on with rotation – what is exeletn presentet in video. But wee need to know how to suport, where to touch and how to do it! If not, baby have very difficult time – and not because dont like to be on stomach, but because of technically position on the tummy.
        more about pedokinetika:
        The baby is from the very beginning receiving number of information that throughout the development represent a source for constructing self-activation and self-regulation. Pedokinetika through the Developmental Functional Approaches (DFA) allows parents to provide their baby an optimal environment of maturation of the neuro-muscular system, which is established not only due to anatomical growth, but mainly because of the information the baby adopts while in different positions and contacts with different types of flooring through movement. Nurturing a child with DFA leads to the perception and establishment of necessary information that are becoming organized by the means of a growing- and multiple activation, and simultaneously establish the sensorimotor connections. For a certain movement in space relevant muscles are innervated. For any further motion the extensor and flexor muscles shall systematize optimally. Therefore, it is important how we provide support to the baby and where. Above all, it is also crucial that the baby is not helped from a seemingly wearying situation, when moving independently.
        DFA combine natural laws (gravity, biomechanics, physiology and intimate parent-child connection). DFA cannot be carried out mechanically and routinely. It is essential to consciously learn touch (by which the baby is led into movement) and knowing how the baby responds to it, how to activate the kinesthetic feeling and conscious parenting. DFA exceed the mechanical repositioning of the child from one position to another (handling) and in relation to childcare and education they create a path to high-quality contact with children in development. In particular, the natural way of development is used allowing each baby to develop in delight and with joy through movement. Such a basis represents an effective starting point for contact and relationship with the environment into which the baby enters more and more independently. Hence we are actively and responsibly involved in the development path and we are not only waiting for what and when it is about to happen to only afterwards direct the movement – because movement matters!
        soon thw www Will be in english.

  7. I mostly agree… except that plagiocephaly is the real deal in preemies, who tend to roll on their own anyway. With our preemie daughter, we did do enforced tummy time (sometimes right on us or on a roll) under the guidance of a PT because she was getting a flat spot and her back muscles had actually started to tighten (as can happen with preemies). So in cases where there’s a medical necessity, enforced tummy time has its place.

    1. Momofamiracle says:

      I agree with Christa here. My daughter was also a preemie and tummy time was incredibly important to her development. She was on her back most of her 6 month NICU stay. While she would turn her head back and forth and was repositioned often by nurses, she still had severe plagiocephaly.

    2. With my preemie we did what I guess is “technically” tummy time but it wasn’t planned out. It was instinctual. When she looked uncomfortable on her back, I would pick her up and lay down with her on her stomach on my chest or on my stomach. When she seemed tired of this position, I would lay her on her back on the blanket on the floor and go cook or clean. Also when she was still in the isolette, we had her on her tummy with her legs tucked under and arms bent at the elbow beside her(picture a frog) because she could not yet lift her arms or roll her hips (she still had the muscle tone of the fetus she developmentally was.)

  8. Hi Janet

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I am an ECE teacher and I often had parents telling me about tummy time and my staff thought it was a good idea too! I am totally against babies having tummy time and also being placed in positions that they are not ready for. My now near 4 year was brought up on the philosophy of Magda Gerber and Emmi Pikler. She never had tummy time and was aloud to develop in her own natural time. I believe this had led her to become a confident child and in complete control of her body. I am a huge advocate for free movement and am trying one person at a time to change the way people think about child development. Thank you again for your posts, they are inspiring and educational

  9. This is so silly, babies that are put to sleep on their tummy like to be on their tummy and babies put to sleep on their back like to be on their back. Not particularly surprising since they spend so much time sleeping when they are newborn. I’m also not sure where you are coming up with the idea that babies can’t lift their heads or their muscles aren’t capable of working. Healthy newborns are capable of turning their head, even when they are brand new. Give the babies a little credit! Try putting a brand new baby on their tummy, they move their heads, push with their legs and feet and change the position of their hands. Sure, the muscles are weak at first and they may not be able to keep their head up for very long, but they get strong pretty quickly. This is totally a cultural phenomenon and totally a product of the back to sleep campaign. I’m all for keeping babies safe from SIDS, but putting babies on their back is no more natural or right then putting babies on their tummy. Soon enough the baby will be able to roll over and show you their preferred position, which will probably change over time anyway.

    1. The best comment here. Theres so many ways (within reason) that theyre all right. Also the babies allowed to do the breast crawl upon birth… what more proof do we need of their inherent strength?

  10. My second baby was always put to sleep on his back & as soon as he learned to roll over at 4 months insisted on sleeping on his stomach. When I was a baby in the 70s my mother tried to get me to sleep on my stomach as was recommended then and I did not like that from the start. I think babies do have a preference that goes beyond just the position that has been chosen for them. Interesting thoughts on tummy time. My first hated tummy time and I didn’t do it very much with him because it was so upsetting for him. Glad I listened to him.

  11. I understand the idea of listening to babies, but we’re not listening to babies by forcing them to sleep on their backs (until they are able to roll on their own). Plagiocephaly and certain physical delays increased pretty much the same time that the “Back to sleep” campaign took off. Without Tummy Time, many more babies would be significantly delayed.

    In other words, I don’t think you can use the “natural” argument of listening to babies cues when you are creating an unnatural situation that is causing problems.

    For those who are interested in Tummy Time but don’t want to cause great discomfort to their baby, my baby’s physical therapist taught me the following:

    She specifically said NOT to do tummy time by just plopping my baby on his stomach. Firstly, since they can’t lift themselves up much, they’re not getting much of a work out. Secondly, when they cry and get upset on their stomachs, they tense up and work the wrong muscles. She showed me how to prop him on his elbows and support his upper arms and shoulders while distracting him with toys. (I understand the idea of respecting children by not trying to distracting them, but I think we all appreciate distraction when we are a little uncomfortable or doing something we don’t enjoy). She also emphasized the importance of doing this multiples times a day for short periods of time and stopping when he gets upset, as opposed to doing one longer tummy time session in which he would get distressed. In this way, the baby’s sense of comfort is respected and the physical gains are greater.

    As an aside Janet, I recently discovered your website and I’m enjoying very much. My baby is already almost a year, but I’m glad I can put some of the RIE principles into practice for his upcoming delicious toddler year!

  12. Wow this is great. Both my son and daughter hate tummy time and I’ve been told to force them into it despite their distress, and of course my own. Good news!

  13. I have been following this blog on and off for a while now, and although I typically agree with most of the articles, I disagree on this one. As an occupational therapist, I continue to highly encourage tummy time. Developmentally, a child should be able to hold his head up in prone (on his tummy) before being able to roll over, so the premise that they are not ready for tummy time if they aren’t able to roll over is incorrect. The comparison of tummy time to being injected with a local anaesthetic is also a little over the top.
    I agree that we need to listen to the child’s cues, and not force them into tummy time if they are uncomfortable. But there are many ways to do tummy time while continuing to respect the child’s cues, such as on mom or dad’s chest, supported with a roll or towel, and only as tolerated, as I have seen previously mentioned in some of the comments.
    Although most kids will be able to develop typically without specific “tummy time” being implemented, there are many kids with developmental delays that continue to benefit from it.

  14. I think of tummy time as parents leaving their children alone, or out of touch, on the floor for a length of time that usually lasts 20 minutes, 1-2 times a day. I realize that tummy time counts if your child is laying on your tummy playing with you, etc, but most people I know do not practice it this way or sadly even hold their babies that much. I know that sounds ilke an extreme statement but I’m just speaking of the people I know personally- babies are almost always in car seats, swings, bouncy seats, etc out of physical contact with their parents- even during bottle feeding.

    Anyway, the point I’m getting at is that it seems to me tummy time is a “medicine” to cover up some “symptom”. Not something that is good, natural, and needed in an of itself. For example- people need to do it because their babies are laying on their backs too much and develop a flat spot. The problem isn’t that the baby hasn’t gotten enough TT, the problem is some type of care going on is unnatural and causing the flat spot. Are these babies breastfed and cosleeping? Where babies will naturally switch sides often during the night and lay on their sides? Or are these babies put in a crib, on their back, for long periods of time that isn’t natural for most babies? Are people not holding and interacting with their babies enough, which causes their babies head to be flat?

    It seems when children are cared for in a natural way, the need for TT goes out the window. TT fixes the symptoms of a larger problem altogether.

    This isn’t to say that sometimes there are extenuating circumstances (like premies) that don’t make TT neccessary- there are. But premature birth isn’t the “norm” so again TT isn’t something that children are born innately to need.

    1. Dawn Trenberth says:

      Andrea I agree with you 100%. I practiced attachment parenting with all my three children my eldest is now 21. I was inspired by the phiolosophy of La Leche league and they were all breastfed. My babies spent a lot of time upright in a baby sling or lying down in the sling. They also breast fed in the sling when I was out and about doing grocery shopping etc. They also co-slept with me. Tummy time really wasn’t an issue and they just rolled onto their tummies in their own time, then proceeded to crawling around 6 months sitting around 9 months and walking around eleven months.

    2. Second best comment. If we are gonna talk about natural being best, heres whats natural: breastfeeding, co-sleeping, slings, natural playtime, being held often, and spending lots of time on mamas or papas chest, to say the least.

  15. Ann Marie says:

    Being a grandmother, and having raised my infants in the “dark ages” when ALL babies were to be put on their TUMMIES to sleep, I can tell you, I observed all of my infants in their bassinet. Each one was able to lift and set her head down, first on one cheek, then the other. This helped develop the crossed- extensor reflex, with baby turning the head toward a bent arm, and the opposite leg extending, and vice-versa when the head was turned the opposite direction. Thus, they were developing crawling muscles in a normal pattern, and they were able to roll over by 6-7 weeks, and to creep forward. Other than the hazard of SIDS, which at that time was not believed to be related to babies sleeping on their bellies, I saw no harm or problem with my babies or their development from belly position time, from the moment they came home from the hospital. All babies struggle to command their muscles and body parts as they grow. The head is, well, large, in proportion to the rest of the body, and yes, heavy. My babies could lift their heads from side to side right from the start. We let babies back then have a few minutes of “back” time daily, such as during diaper changes, until they got old enough to roll over on their own. Ironic, how the world turns…

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience. Id heard from grandmothers that they put their babies to sleep on their tummy. My baby slept on my chest all the time, on her tummy, which is the same, I imagine.

  16. You know where babies belong the majority of the time? In their parents arms or being worn. I never needed to do tummy time, my kids gained head control and strength while on my chest or in the sling.

    1. Actually babies do need to not be in your arms ALL the time. They do need to learn to turnover, lift their heads and such. If you are holding them ALL THE TIME, they won’t learn how to do this.But yes, they do need to be held. Holding them too much will also create other problems when they get older.

      1. This confuses me. As a species, humans are nomads. We may be ignoring our migratory biologic features but it’s what we were made to do. We travel better than many creatures in the world with a slow and steady but readily adaptable pace. We were made to be moving all the time and by design our infants were made to be held against us while we do that. The reason that our infants have a concave spinal column at birth is because adults have convex. Why do contact lenses have to be put into the human eye in a convex shape? Because the human eye is concave. These two shapes are universally acknowledged as being made to fit together. Infants are designed to be against the parents chest until their spine development allows for them to walk on their own. Why would ignore biological design because some doctor said if you don’t leave your baby on the floor, he can’t develop? Or because some 60 year old woman told you “Holding him spoils him and he’ll be a little brat when he’s older.”

        1. FYI: the human eye is convex.

        2. Third best comment. I agree 100%. If we do what is biologically correct, it would be holding babies and carrying them around. Even in our arms, or in a sling, a baby WILL strengthen their bodies by pushing against ours. That was my experience with my baby, who I barely kept on her back or put into tummy time intentionally, as recommended by her chiropractor so that her neck could strengthen, because she didn’t like it and I couldnt be bothered to do the exercise, because I mostly kept her on or against my body or held in my arms as I breastfed her and saw how strong her neck and head movements were. Everything else is gravy.

  17. In the end we all do what we think is best for our babies. I found that most of the RIE principles fell right in line with how I already thought/felt about caring for and nurturing my babies.

    I never believed in forced tummy time and hated that our pediatrician was pushing it. To me, 2 minutes or 5 minutes of tummy time on the floor several times a day was not going to counteract the amount of time spent in a car seat or other contraption. It just wasn’t logical. (I will admit that as a working mother of 6 month old twins I do rely on my swing and bouncer a little more that I would like)

    It is important to let babies do things in the own time in their own way. I am amazed watching my boys during their floor time. Their development is as different as it is the same. My older twin was the first to roll over (weeks ahead of his brother) and he rolled one direction back to tummy to back to tummy. When the younger twin was ready he was able to roll both directions but hasn’t figured out how to go from tummy to back with any consistency. One is more vocal, the other has better hand to mouth coordination. We have never done tummy time and guess what – they still can roll and lift their heads up and push their bodies up with their arms. They are like little yogis! One was ahead of and one slightly behind “schedule”. We made the decision that was right for our family and our boys are thriving.

  18. This feels like rebelling against the norm just for the sake of it.
    My baby enjoyed many different positions – tummy, back, propped, cuddled, but mostly on her back on the living room floor.
    She hated the car seat and the sling until about 3 months.
    She rolled by herself at 4 months for about a week and enjoyed some tummy time, but used to get frustrated that she couldn’t roll back onto her back, and she has never rolled since! (she is now almost 6 months)
    She has a flat head because she was born like that.
    How is it that it comes across that its not OK to ‘contain’ a baby in a carrier etc yet its OK to ‘wear’ a baby in a sling?
    My baby truly hated any kind of confinement such as the sling or pram for the first 3 months, so we were housebound, which was very difficult at times.
    She is better now that she is older.
    In conclusion I don’t think you can generalise, you just need to listen to your baby and offer them lots of options and see what they like. If I had a £ for every time someone told me to put my baby in the car because she would nap!
    Personally I think tummy time is important for strengthening baby’s wrists and arms, and makes up part of their early experiences. Variety is the spice of life!

  19. Hey everyone,

    This is an interesting read as are the comments. I didn’t do tummy time with my eldest and we haven’t done it so far with our 10 week old but she is starting to get a flat head and I’m freaking out a bit. I think she initially developed the flat bit on one side when sleeping in our room and getting fixated on a throw on our bed and being in the same position. Once I realised that’s what it was I changed the position of her moses basket so she’d face the other way to even things out. While the one-sided flatness is not so noticeable now she is still looking a bit flat across the back.

    I breastfeed so she changes position then but she does spend a lot of time on her back – she is an awesome sleeper and does not need to be held heaps to get to sleep. I have been alternating how she sleeps – lying one side, on the back and then the other side but this requires propping her in bed and I’m not completely comfortable with that either as I don’t think it would be that comfy for her.

    Essentially, I don’t want to do tummy time but I don’t know what to about her flat head. Maybe she’ll start to move her head around more soon as she becomes more interested in whats going on around her and it’ll fix itself. Any thoughts?

    Thanks in advance!

    Kate 🙂

  20. This article is dramatic and absurd. The kind of over the top opinion based poopery that is about as informative as Us Weekly. A local anesthetic? Oh okay, exempt baby has fully functional muskets back there. May as we’ll let them potty train themselves, why encourage them to anything they don’t feel inclined to do at all?

    1. Sorry you don’t agree with natural motor development, Nick. And, BTW, I do advise allowing children to self-direct toilet learning, and could share with you hundreds of letters from parents facing all kinds of difficulties because they tried to make toilet learning happen. Trust your kids.

  21. This is completely moronic. Lack of tummy time is clearly associated with developmental and even cognitive delays when the sample number is expanded a bit. The analogy that the child is using muscles that are effectively anesthetised or blocked is total bunk. The way muscle tone is built and the neural pathways that activate them are honed is by use. Irene Lyon offers no research to back up her claims. She offers no credentials that would justify her as an expert in infant development. Instead, her argument appeals to a certain aesthetic, and her recommendations are harmful.

    Most articles like this appeal to our sense of aesthetics. Allowing something to “occur naturally” seems so preferable. But go to a pediatrician’s office and ask them about infants with lack of tummy time and they will tell you about motor delays that are tied to cognitive delays. Even in babies who are worn in a sling and who cosleep in full-on attachment parenting style.

    For all the parents who state “We didn’t do tummy time and our baby X was fine,” your n = 1 does not constitute a data set. Instead, it encourages other hippy dippy parents to avoid tummy time and contributes to motor delay. Good on ya.

    1. You clearly do not comprehend this article, nor do you grasp the implications of the tummy time research. The research shows that babies need to spend time in the prone position. Irene Lyon and I agree. The extensive research of Dr. Emmi Pikler, Magda Gerber, and my associates at RIE proves that babies WILL choose tummy time when they are ready, and then spend a great deal of time in the position as they learn to pivot, creep and crawl. What infants need is free movement. They do NOT need to be forced into uncomfortable positions, trained or “taught” motor skills. Give babies opportunities to show you what they are working on and they will amaze you.

      1. I agree with “no tummy time required”, my daughter, a first time mom, has a son, his head is flat. The doctor tells her to do tummy time, problem is, baby hates it…as soon as he is put on his tummy, he cries, not just whimpering, but all out war cry!!! The doctor says to continue, but they are both so stressed, and my daughter is getting more and more stressed. I have two beautiful daughters, and neither one of them had tummy time, or were forced into any position that they were not able to get in or out of. My oldest was born at 28 weeks gestation, and slept on her stomach at night, and during the day, was on her side, which we switched between feedings.

        I understand completely new moms, who think that doctors know best, but sometimes, it is not always necessary to listen to the doctor and take his or her word as gospel. Sometimes you have to listen to your baby and your gut feeling!!

  22. As a pediatric physical therapy specialist, this article caught my eye and made me outraged. I spend every day educating kids who are delayed in their gross motor skills and give strategies to parents on how to make tummy time better. As I know most consumers don’t do as extensive of research as we do, most of my parents will look at this title and stop reading. This may apply to the typical baby, but even then I see so much torticollis and plegiocephaly for the supine babies who hate prone. I have many kids who hated prone and who learned to avoid it by rolling off their back and scooting and now have difficulty with skills later on. I’ve had A LOT of success weening kids into prone positions that have later gone on to be late rollers. SO please, for the sake of the medical community, be careful what you are putting out there to the internet. It can be doing more harm than good.

    1. I stand by these ideas, Susan, which are backed by over 60 years of observational research. As a physical therapist, I’d imagine you’d be interested in the work of Emmi Pikler, who was a pioneer in the field of infant motor development:

      Children hate “prone” when they are forced into that position prematurely. I have worked with thousands of infants and not one has ever “hated prone”, because they were allowed to develop naturally.

      1. christine cole says:

        Dear Janet,
        No position, side back or prone is premature. I’m concerned that you have CHOSEN the back position to be more natural than any other when in act we are a 3 dimensional in the womb. SO if anything the natural position would be to have all positions supported equally. The back position is not an easy position to move out of, from prone there are many ways to turn the head and let the body follow or push up from the hands ( which by the way is a very important way to support the heart and the lungs)
        I’ve seen many children who never lay on their side (like cute seals – which allows a hand to be free to explore an object) When they attempt to roll they panic when having to bridge the half turn from back to front or front to back.
        It is all about play and wonder and us parents not fearing nor forcing any preference on our kids. ( I’m an improvisational mover/ Infant developmental specialist trained in Body-Mind Centering)

        1. Hi Chistine – I’ve never seen a child “panic” while learning to roll from back to tummy. Did you not see value in this video? The back position is the most mobile position for a young infant. You mention allowing a hand to be free to explore an object… this is EXACTLY why the back position is so important and preferable. Babies need to study, move and explore their hands. They cannot do this when they are frozen on their tummies. On their backs they play for long periods with their hands and feet. They stretch, twist and roll to their sides. Why would you rob children of these invaluable opportunities for freedom and learning? As a movement specialist, I imagine you would appreciate the pioneering work of pediatrician Emmi Pikler. Check her out!

          1. christine cole says:

            Any position is a mobile position. Rolling requires and allows us to find joy and support on all sides along the roll. Although this is a beautiful video, indeed – wonderful – it is not the sum of all human man infant movement.
            I have seen many babies in all kinds of positions as have you. For example this sparring we are doing in this is learned in pushing away movements – On our bellies we can learn to push our self away or push sn object waya: THis allows us to know self to feel our strength, to take a stand and one of the first times we deal with resistance and our own strength and power is to push our hands into the earth when we are lying prone. Again – I’m not a bellytime enforcer – I’m a movement therapist that allows ALL relationships to gravity unfold. Of course laying on the belly is a part of natural movement development!

            1. The tummy position is certainly not a mobile position for a 6 week old baby, and that is why babies were (and still are) put to bed in this position (they are less likely to startle themselves awake), and also why it is linked to SIDS. Google “tummy time” and you will thousands of photos of obviously uncomfortable, immobile babies. When allowed to choose tummy time, babies will end up spending the majority of their playtime in this position and benefit from it. Give babies time and they will choose tummy time as Baby Liv did.

      2. No, my 4 weeks old loved prone position since the day after he was born, lying on his father’s chest, he seemed so proud when he managed to lift his head and see his fathers face, at first only for a few seconds, but just a few days later for a half minute or so, looking all around, and then on the rug etc. trying to crawl or shuffle only a few weeks old.

  23. Babies are almost flaccid beings, everything they do and learn takes immense strength, patience, fervor and genetics!! Babies sometimes express more comfort on the their backs and sometimes more on their bellies, either way, what a workout!! Whichever way we put them (back or belly), they are constantly challenged to move and groove (or they sleep or are busy doing a “skill” they’ve already mastered). I think the goal everyone is talking about is to try to tap into what might be the most natural with hands off support and I think it can depend on the age and temperament of each infant. I also think some hands on interventions ie. the towel propping for support is like using a block during yoga or a exercise ball for situps, sometimes some physical therapy can be proactive without impeding on natural form and organic learning. I think going back to the root of observing one’s own child, knowing when they are growing v. when they are suffering is of utmost importance here.

    1. With respect, Danielle, you lost me at “Babies are almost flaccid beings”. Have you actually observed babies in a free-to-move position? They are anything but flaccid!

  24. This advice does not apply to all babies. Some babies have developmental delays and without tummy time they have an incredibly difficult time learning to move. In my practice, we see babies who have spent a year in a RIE class on their backs. It’s incredibly stressful to a mother when their baby is the only one not learning how to do the skill naturally. What happens is the moms do not return to the RIE class because the baby cannot move at a year. They go to their one year well baby visit and the Pediatrician refers them to Physical Therapy.

    1. I’d love to know who these people are, Debby, because I’ve been teaching at the RIE center for 20 years now and my associates and I have not heard of these babies.

      1. Liz Sherratt says:

        Hi Janet,

        My daughter hated tummy time. I kept trying every now and again but she always cried and I felt so uncomfortable putting her in a situation that made her so unhappy. So, I looked online and found articles and anecdotes saying babies will be fine without tummy time. This made me feel better so I stopped ever trying tummy time. Fast forward a little… at about 7 months I was getting a bit concerned as my daughter was nowhere near being able to sit up. I kept thinking “she will do it when she is ready” – but it was important that she sit up so I could wean her.

        I then did another internet search and found an article all for tummy time, so I tried it again, but she still hated it! After more research, I found some methods she enjoyed, starting with holding her over my shoulder to help her hold her head and neck up, then holding/propping her up at gradually lower and lower angles as she gradually gained upper body strength and could lie on her belly. Let me stress – she was happy in these various positions. I believe this allowed her to develop her muscles at a pace right for her – always providing a slight challenge but never enough to be impossible or unpleasant. She has made HUGE strides in her physical development. However, she is 9 months old and still cannot sit up unless supported. Her legs are strong from kicking when lying on her back, but her arms and core are much weaker.

        My daughter was premature with severe IUGR. Do you have any experience with such babies? Because of these factors, doctors were advising I begin weaning at 5 months – she could only just hold her head up. IUGR can cause low muscle tone and therefore physical developmental delays. Do you think babies with developmental delays should not be given encouragements to develop e.g. through physio? Do you think I should not have put my baby in any of the positions I mentioned, which she was happy in, just because she didn’t get herself there? I have to agree with earlier comments that babies do not chose to be on their back – we put them there just as we would put them on their fronts. I offer these suggestions as a middle ground.

        Tummy time is important for physical development and we can do it in a respectful way. By this I mean:
        – try a variety of positions such as on tummy across your lap, laying at an angle on a birthing ball, chest supported with a rolled up towel etc.
        – if baby is unhappy in a position they cannot get out of, by all means change them to a different one

  25. I would love to share with you their names but it would be a HIPPA violation.

  26. Does anyone know if there is research about tummy time being harmful in any cases? I lost my 10 week old about 6 weeks ago. The medical examiner ruled her death as SIDS. But my baby was awake and doing tummy time at daycare. I just can’t understand it… but the examiner said that anytime I put a baby at that age on its belly you’re risking SIDS. If this is the case, how is tummy time so widely promoted as something to prevent SIDS?! I’m so confused but if I can lose my baby to something that involved tummy time I feel that other moms should know.

    1. Dear Shana,
      There are no words to express my sorrow for your devastating loss.

      Most of the recommendations for preventing SIDS, recognize sleeping on the tummy as unsafe, but actually encourage tummy time for babies while they are awake. I must say that I don’t understand this, especially coming from a RIE perspective, because the same issues are present while the very young infant is awake on his or her tummy.

      “Some researchers have hypothesized that stomach sleeping puts pressure on a child’s jaw, therefore narrowing the airway and hampering breathing.

      Another theory is that stomach sleeping can increase an infant’s risk of “rebreathing” his or her own exhaled air, particularly if the infant is sleeping on a soft mattress or with bedding, stuffed toys, or a pillow near the face. In that scenario, the soft surface could create a small enclosure around the baby’s mouth and trap exhaled air. As the baby breathes exhaled air, the oxygen level in the body drops and carbon dioxide accumulates. Eventually, this lack of oxygen could contribute to SIDS.”

      Again, I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story with the hope of helping other parents. I send you my love and prayers.

  27. Hi! I’ve read this article before and all your others like this. Tonight I finally have compiled my reply. While what you write can sound convincing, it lacks complexity.
    I am a dance educator. I have been for many years. Currently, I teach over 250 children a week to dance, including my own 4 young ones. In college I studied Bartinieff movement fundamentals and know it is absolutely the way to develop at strong core-centered individual. I have spent and continue to spend my life in the world of movement.
    Overall, I feel there is a much deeper way to talk about movement development than simply ‘no tummy time’ and ‘don’t help your child walk’. I adored what christine cole said above. She is spot on.
    Babies need lots and lots of time on the floor to develop their muscles on their own for sure. But we are social creatures so participating with them in their physical challenges is awesome for them as well.,
    The PT’s who weighed in here are right, there are many gross motor delays now a days. Of course they need to get out of the bumbo and other devices and onto the floor but what they really need is caretakers who are aware of their various needs and who aren’t afraid to give them a variety of movement experiences. Similar to what Christine said, stranding your baby on her back can be just as debilitating as stranding her on her front.
    So then the conversation stops being what positions are allowed and what are not but turns into truly watching your baby enjoy getting strong in a variety or healthy natural ways, some of which you are involved in as a parent because we are social creatures and some of them you are not. It is awesome to support them and have confidence in them, whatever their movement choices may be, but still there must always be an eye on them that encourages their overall strength and development. It really is way more complex than simply ‘no tummy time’ or ‘don’t walk babies’.
    Here is a case story in addition to Baby Liv: My own daughter, who is 7, got loads of tummy time, loads of floor time, loads of playtime in the air with Dad and I in ways and places that she did not put herself in and loads of playground time, lots by herself, lots with me placing her on high things and discovering with her about how to get down (a slide, for example), and lots and lots of movement experiences to develop herself into a strong, fearless and coordinated person. She recently started gymnastics and is immediately excellent. She loves it and asks to go every day. They asked her to join a competitive team in just a few months as she is so strong and fearless. I am convinced it is because of the physicality she has been able to develop on her own and with me always having an eye on her developing her overall strength and coordination.

    1. Mrs. R, your comments (and those of others here) seem based on the belief that to connect with a baby one must be doing something to her, moving her, positioning her, deciding what challenges she should be working on, etc. You and Christine said, “stranding your baby on her back can be just as debilitating as stranding her on her front”. But I am not suggesting “stranding” a baby. I’m suggesting trusting your baby to show you what she is working on, giving her the lovely bit of autonomy babies can enjoy, allowing her to initiate and self-direct play while you enjoy and learn from watching her responsively. I realize this is a foriegn idea to many and requires a major paradigm shift. I understand that teachers (and parents) want to teach. But children really, really, really don’t need us to teach them how to roll, scoot, crawl, walk or climb, and they gain so much physically, cognitively and psychologically if we can allow them these achievements.

      1. Depending on the child different strategies and interventions are most appropriate, and your strategy may fit a select number of children, there are many others who are treated by Physios & Occupational Therapists who are NOT meeting their developmental milestones, experience flat heads, get muscle alignment/tightness problems resulting in torticollis, and they DO NEED extra support on tummy time from their caregivers to learn what you consider natural movements. These days babies arrive in the world as premies, and a variety of diagnosed and undiagnosed conditions that make your strategy detrimental as a blanket statement for ALL children. If a child arrives without their primitive/primary reflexes engaging and maturing they too will have difficulties. If a baby does not demonstrate the ATNR reflex. And is not able to lift their head to turn the i do agree they should be placed on their back and side until such time that the ATNR reflex is active – otherwise a variety of positions including on their tummy is developmentally appropriate & necessary for the baby to integrate reflexes, develop muscle tone, develop their visual/auditory/vestibular system, near & far vision, hand/finger weight bearing which precedes precision finger function. If a child dislikes tummy time find ways to make it fun – a baby is not a social being that learns and is motivated by their interaction/relationships with their family/community.

        1. Oops typo – a baby IS a social being that learns & is motivated by their relationship to family/community, especially caregivers.

  28. My baby likes her tummy time.

    She let’s me know that she hates it on her back by screaming and arching her back until she either gets picked up, or put into her side or tummy.

    I also don’t see anything natural about putting a baby on its back compared to putting it on its side or belly.

  29. I wanted to say that I agree with the article above. I’ve read almost all the comments and feel like there is a ideology of intervention to most of them. Just as many children have been placed on their backs as on their fronts throughout human existence and somehow we all managed to figure out walking, talking, crawling, rolling and many other major skills. We now spend so much time comparing our success and losses against each other, think keeping up with the Jones. A previous poster mentioned forcing results and I think thats really what this is. Has anyone considered that if we didn’t intervene, our expectations of what is normal and expected at a certain age might be different? My son has seen many doctors for unrelated medical conditions and every one feels the need to tell me my son needs more tummy time even if this is not their area of expertise. when I ask why, the responses I get are, because at 5 months we expect such and such. Heres the thing, my child may never be an NHL player, or a world leading researcher, but Im pretty sure that he will be happy, active and full of life even if he decides to push up at 7 months instead of 5, and I dont really care what anyone else baby does

  30. I think most people interpret “tummy time” as placing an infant on the floor on their stomachs. People aren’t aware “tummy time” is also lying on their parent’s chest. The way tummy time is promoted isn’t appealing to a lot of parents because of the lack of physical contact, and interaction. Parents would rather hold their children, or have their children lay on their backs so they can see their faces and play with them.

    I wasn’t born in the US, and my mom never did the formal “tummy time” most moms know of. I don’t think she did that with my siblings either. She finds a lot of things promoted by doctors in the US to be trendy, when her experience and the experience of others not born in the US are a little different.

  31. Nature knows best! Life is not a competition.

  32. Both my babies were happy to do tummy time from the beginning. They both had good head control early on, perhaps because I did “laid back” breastfeeding from the beginning (found it to be the best way to get a natural and effective latch after a lot of trouble with the BF) and this gently strengthened their necks and backs. So I’d say there is more than one right answer here and it’s not very helpful to suggest that it’s disrespectful or developmentally incorrect for our babies when there are lots of reasons why it’s very beneficial and not all babies cry when they are put in that position.

  33. YES!! Ive been saying that about the formation of the spinal curves. I have observed infants rolling from back to tummy thinking the same thing! Self initiated movement does this, and integrates primitive reflexes, and is integral in the formation of a coherent, cohesive sense of self!!!! THANK YOU.

  34. Janet, do you have any more resources or information on babies with very tight muscles (hypertonic)?

  35. Love this article 🙂 I wrote one all about why we opted to skip the tummy time, didn’t even remember to put in how sad it was to see her so vulnerable and in a painful position… I couldn’t leave her miserable like that.

  36. My baby didn’t have tummy time when she was younger.
    At 9 months she wasn’t sitting yet so we’ve started physical therapy.
    We were told that the delay was caused by not enough time spent on her belly.

    1. How has she been spending her time these 9 months? It’s true that if babies are not provided with adequate floor time in the back position (free to move), they will have difficulties learning to roll, scoot, crawl or sit.

  37. Hi, could you please explain what are these carriers that increase risk of plagiocephaly? Ergonomic baby slings, carriers and wraps, when used correctly and in adherence to the T.I.C.K.S rules, are as good tummy time equivalent as being placed on parents’ chest, thus prevent plagiocephaly. Also, they contribute positively to core muscle development, promote correct posture and are wonderful for bonding. I’m not American and I may be missing something in the means of terminology but, as your texts are being read worldwide, that information might be misunderstood.

  38. I am also confused as to what a carrier is. I read another alternative (to conventional wisdom) baby article that said you should almost never put your baby down, because in traditional societies babies are held/carried from birth. Doing that is a huge strain on me from a standpoint of being able to do things (like go to the bathroom, make food, keep house) and a literal strain on my back, since my bad back makes all carriers somewhat painful. Still, I’ve been trying to do it as much as possible for my baby’s well-being.

    The article I read says, “When mothers stop touching their infants, DNA synthesis stops, growth hormone diminishes (Schaunberg, 1995). Physiologically, the baby goes into “survival mode.”

    So I feel guilty for putting him down.

    He also sleeps when he’s in his carrier (Ergo baby and woven wrap) whereas when I put him on his back to sleep during the day he only stays asleep for a few minutes (rarely he will sleep well for an extended period of time) and then wakes up and needs attention. His head doesn’t lay on anything flat, though, in his carrier, versus in his carseat.

  39. Marj Bryen says:

    As a pediatric PT for37 years l have seen a change in parenting skills. Allowing babies freedom to move on their own is ideal,however due to babies being positioned in car seats,carriers and other equipment, spending time in daycare with less opportunity for freedom to move there is an increase in flat heads and torticolis. Given ideal circumstances your approach is relevant but often this is not the case. Placing young infants on chest or lap,held up against your chest works to develop head control gently and without distress. Tummy time does more than develop spinal provides sensory input and visual stimulation needed later for gross and fine motor development

  40. I think I got to the reference of equating infants on their tummy as paralyzed and lost interest because that is absurd. Almost like comparing a health sciences degree to clinical background of a regulated professional body.

  41. Love your post Irene. I would like to suggest that children who are placed on their backs under play gyms where items are dangling above their heads, may be one of the main contributors for children with flat heads. These children most often keep their heads relatively still, unlike children laying freely. Emmi Pikler knew a thing or two I must say!

  42. Is a wood floor necessary as far as the video ? They could bump their head trying to roll over. I would never put my newborn on a hard bare floor . My premature grandson is under treatment for Plagiiocephaly.,

  43. I personally do tummy time. And have since his cord came of a week after he was born. He has been rolling over to his back, holding up his head high and making crawling motions since 2 weeks old. He enjoys being on his tummy and can stay there for 10 minutes at a time holding up his head. He can also sit up with a bit of help and just recently started picking up his head when on a slight incline on his back. Hes only just turned 8 weeks a day ago. I am very certin that putting him on his tummy has helped alot with this. When I see he gets fustrated I roll him over that is of he hasent already done so him self. I cant see how it could be harmful to him in any way.

  44. Thank you for this article. I think it is great that you provide another side of the story while everywhere in pediatric books and new parent booklets it states how necessary it is to give babies tt. However, there is one statement that is very contradictory. You say that now than ever children are placed in baby carriers. From my experience I rarely see parents using carriers these days. From the other side carriers been used for centuries before everywhere in the world before pram was brought out. It is only logical to assume that babies need human touch for every aspect of their development. And if given choice between putting my baby down or carry him, I would definitely pick him up. Obviously its not possible to do all the time. Floor time is very important of course, but everything needs to be in balance. Also newborn babies usually feel very secure in ergonomic carriers because it resembles their time spent in the womb.

  45. I am reposting this here, to be added to this particular conversation.

    I’m writing to encourage an alternative view to “forced tummy time,” a horrible-sounding ordeal for any baby. Babies come into the world with an array of instinctive movements that assist them in being able to maneuver their way—on their bellies, completely unassisted—to find the nipple, latch on and begin nursing, sometimes in as little as 10 minutes (though more typically in 30-60 minutes) after arriving on dry land.

    In those cultures where the norm is for a baby to be wrapped against the mother’s chest in the earliest months—and later, when a bit older, upon her back—these same essential movements continue to be reinforced. Belly-to-earth is the natural position for most (if not all) species, and serves to build the powerful abdominal core shared by all vertebrates. (It is only later that humans distinguish themselves by becoming upright.) This belly-to-earth core-building activity fires off uncountable neural synapses that build a thriving brain and nervous system. As long as mothers and babies are connected to each other’s bodies in this way, this process of development is underway, even in the earliest days of ife.

    Modern living has tended to break this crucial physical connection between many mothers and babies. Leaving an infant to lie on its back for most of its waking and sleeping hours deprives it of this essential belly-to-earth developmental process. Indeed, many pediatricians, OTs, PTs and others who work therapeutically with children, report it is those children who have had a deficit of belly-to-earth contact with the mother’s body or another physical “surface,” who are most likely to be facing an array of neurodevelopmental issues. Thus the loud chorus for tummy time.

    In addition to the many emotional/psychological benefits a baby gains from various aspects of attachment parenting, there are crucial physiological benefits, since the mother’s body serves as the representative of the Earth in a symbiotic relationship that we, as humans, share with our Mother Earth. Sadly, this is not so for those babies who, for whatever reason, are not held and carried very often against the mother’s body.

    There are specific scientific explanations related to all this that are discussed in detail in a documentary that I just created called BORN TO MOVE— https// —which also includes several simple exercises one can do to directly experience “ground reaction force” the way a baby is likely to experience it, and discusses why this matters so much.

    I wholeheartedly look forward to being part of a serious, yet gracious and civil conversation around these ideas, as there is no doubt that we all have the wellbeing of our babies first and foremost in our minds and hearts. May we find a way to merge our wish for each baby to be free to develop in a naturally unfolding continuum—as an emotional, psychological, spiritual, and physical BEING—and as we grapple with these questions, may we come to better understand our relationship with each other and our place in the natural world.

    I admire and appreciate your passion and dedication as an advocate for the wellbeing of babies everywhere!

    1. Fantastic comment. Belly-to-earth, mothers are the earth, the earth is our mother… this makes the most sense to me. Thousands of generations that gave birth to us present today couldnt have gotten it wrong. Belly-to-earth. Baby-on-mama (or papa). Thank you for your wisdom!

  46. Christina says:

    From what I gather, when “carriers” are mentioned, believe those from US are referring to the infant carrier that is typically a carseat with a handle in which babies are maneuvered from place to place, remaining in it vs being held or carried on body with a material “carrier”. If you scroll down to Infant Car Seats -Graco, it says “Our infant carriers are small and come with carrying handles to help you take baby from car to stroller to home. And all come with a base that can be left in the…” –sometimes labeled as a travel system. Essentially a baby can be moved while strapped in with a click connect/quick release method without ever needing to be picked up. Unfortunately, passively static, with inability to unweight the head for the most part..

  47. I don’t get it. You’re saying that babies don’t want to spend time on their tummies bc they can’t get there on their own. The same would be true for lying on their back until they can roll there too. Many adults may not have the strength to do a full push up but that doesnt mean it is bad for them or they shouldn’t.

    1. The video might help you to understand this point of view.

  48. I think what’s important is the development of all the basics and integration of reflexes for newborns. Has anyone followed any of these children who have not had enough exposure to being prone through elementary school? It is very clear when working with students who present with motor delays, be it gross, fine, occular, are often children who, by their parents report were not infants who spent time in prone. Nothing is a blanket statement, but we all need to be cautious when looking at basic infant/child development across all domains.

  49. Lindsay Jorns says:

    The very sad thing about not doing tummy time is now allowing for shoulder development, thoracic development, and head shape. Head shape goes beyond appearance, as shape influences symmetry of face, sinuses, and sense of midline. Sense of midline transitions distally into the trunk and extremities. It makes me very sad to see parents being so spooked into avoiding tummy time and then articles like these supporting lack of development. Development is important, both emotionally and physically. Supervised prone play is quite necessary for development of midline awareness, symmetry, muscular development and alignment, and prepares the body for upper extremity weight-bearing, cervical extension, and so much more. Denying development is very sad indeed.

  50. Too many of you are arguing this article by positioning her point of view as “no tummy time-ever”. She never, ever said that. She promotes tummy time, as it NATURALLY occurs, not w hen it is forced. Most of you are arguing this as if she said “when they move onto their stomach, flip them back over!”

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