Tummy time: The Top 3 Things I Want Every Momma to Know
Updated: Nov 17
Tummy time: The Top 3 Things I Want Every Momma to Know
We have all heard it, right? You had this beautiful baby and at some point between the nurses, padsicles, bleeding nipples & counting dirty diapers someone mentioned “oh yeah, and do tummy time.”
Bam! Discharged from the hospital.
You head home and continue to waddle your way to recovery, mesh panties in tow. But yet, that tummy time remains an elusive concept in your mind.
I mean, its “back to sleep” right? And let’s be honest, if you are one of the lucky ones, you will get 3-4 weeks of the new born sleepy bliss! So between feeding & sleeping, your baby just doesn’t seem to have the time.
At some point you might be thinking:
When was I supposed to start tummy time?
Where should I put my baby?
Scenario #1: you plop your baby down on the floor.
Oh no, they are crying, they hate it, stop immediately!
You swoop in, pick up your little and think “nope, not ready!”
Scenario #2: you plop your baby down on the floor, they scream, and you think “well, I guess I just let them cry because everyone says I need to do tummy time!” Maybe you shove an oversized tummy time pillow under their chest.
They scream louder.
Momma, hear me when I say YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE.
The who, what, when, where & why of tummy time is rarely explained to mommas, so it is no wonder we so often start on the wrong foot.
Everyone always says “babies are not born with instructions” and yes, while maternal instincts will play a huge role in MANY decisions ahead with several possibilities and no true right answer…. Tummy time? I have got to be honest, it can be as simple as reading the instructions.
Because mommas, when it comes to tummy time, there is in fact, a right answer. I actually wrote a free guide to address the exact steps to take to master tummy time! 10 years as a pediatric physical therapist working with hundreds of babies and I have just about seen it all. Bring me your tummy time haters, the refluxers, the early rollers, the preemies, the g-tube feeders, the late rollers and the sleep assassins who only do tummy time at night – I have seen it all.
If there is one thing I firmly believe: babies are NOT born hating their tummies! The second thing I firmly believe? It is never too late. Babies just need the right support, at the right time, to make all the difference.
Without further delay, here are the top 3 things I want every momma to understand about tummy time.
The first is simple: Why is it so dang important?
Tummy time is the MOST important developmental position. Walking is built in tummy time. So is crawling, rolling, hand writing & coordination. Tummy time rules the roost of milestone positions. The muscles that control tummy time are called the extensor muscles of our core, back & booty. These are the muscles that control our alignment and strength when we are upright.
While it is the most important, it is also the MOST challenging developmental position. Think forearm plank, FOREVER (yes, I am saying FOREEEVVVERRRR Sandlot style!)
Not sure about you, but planks and push ups are not my jam and they are flipping hard.
I rest my case.
Back in the day? Babies slept on their tummies, so they were tummy time masters, naturally. Baby planks and pushups? They were on the regs throughout the night, naps and during the day. That is why you will never hear your momma complain about having a hard time getting YOU to like tummy time. Having babies sleeping on their tummies ensured babies slept more soundly, were on point with their motor skills and everyone was happy.
Except for a very important component to newborn sleep: SIDS.
In the early 90’s the Back To Sleep was launched, and for an insanely good reason! To help prevent SIDS, our babies were now sleeping on their backs, their startle reflex fully engaged, and we wrapped them up like baby burritos in an effort to grab a few congruent hours of zzz’s.
But with the idea that babies should be on their backs to sleep came the misconception that tummy time in general was a bad idea, and many parents, rightfully scared, never placed their babies prone.
Some time around 4 months of age, mommas attempt tummy time, babies say “oh NO THANKS” and the vicious cycle begins.
Secondly: Tummy time should start from day one.
In an ideal world, day one is their nikid entry into this world! But fear not, If your baby is 2 months old and you have forgotten to give this a go because your mesh panties were just too dang fun? Congratulations – today is day one!
If your baby is 4 months old, has screamed very time you have tried and continues to pitch a fit? Congratulations – today is day one!
Bottom line? Day 1 is today.
Day 1 is the moment you arm yourselves with the right information at the right time to make tummy time successful for your little.
It’s the day you choose quality over quantity and try something different.
It is never too late for your babies Day 1.
Guess what, your baby isn’t going to skip it! And yes, while some mommas will claim their babies skipped tummy time, then went on to skip crawling, I have some tough love for ya – that’s not supposed to happen! No mom shaming, just good ole development backed by science.
When your babies learn to master tummy time, soon after will come other crazy important skills like ROLLING! Now, if you want your baby to sleep? We have to make sure they hit this important milestone. Because with rolling some the power to choose their sleep position, back or belly, and self soothing with autonomy.
Third & Final Point: Tummy time, like motherhood is a process and it is going to look different every day. But one piece of advice that translates across the board no matter the method you choose to feed your kid, sleep train your kid or work on tummy time – consistency will always win out.
If you try tummy time one day, it goes poorly, you over react, give up and don’t try again for 2 weeks…. Guess what? Its going to suck then too! But if you can focus on quality, not quantity and choose to consistently show up for your kid and their milestones EVERY. DAMN. DAY. You will be met with huge success. I promise.
Now I would never leave you hanging – so let me invite you to my FREE tummy time program: 10 Days ‘Til No Tears Tummy Time Solutions
I will walk you through the 10 steps you need to develop your babies personal & individual tummy time program no matter when your Day 1 is beginning!
Cheers, momma! Knowledge is power & I believe, with the right instructions & guidance, we can rule the world.
Dr. Deana Rosaia, Pediatric physical therapist, momma of 2 littles & owner of Next Small Steps: Pediatric physical therapy & wellness.
Follow along on Instagram or Facebook @NextSmallStep
Free Tummy Time Video Guide
10 Days ‘Til No Tears Tummy Time Solutions