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Tummy Time for Babies

Your baby has to have time on her tummy so she can develop the strength and skills she will need for crawling, walking and using her hands.

Professionals in child health recommend that babies sleep on their backs because of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. This does not mean, however, that an infant should never be on her tummy when awake. Babies need their tummy time!

The best place to lay an infant is on a clean, firm surface like a playpen mat on the floor where she is safe and can't roll off from any height. Be careful with blankets and quilts as they can bunch up and block the baby's breathing and also keep them from moving freely. 

You should be watching nearby. Some of this watching can be indirect as babies do a lot of their best learning and developing when it seems no one is watching them. If your baby gets tired and falls asleep, you can roll her gently onto her back to sleep.

A baby should spend lots of playtime on her tummy so that she can learn to:

  • Hold up her head and get strong enough to turn her head from side to side
  • Get up on her elbows
  • Get up on her hands with straight arms
  • Roll from her tummy to her back
  • Roll from her back to her tummy
  • Shift the weight of her body so she can hold herself on one elbow and reach for toys
  • Shift the weight of her body from side to side so she can commando crawl forward on her tummy
  • Pull up on her knees and balance
  • Pull up her knees and rock on hands and knees
  • Shift her weight again and creep forward on those bent knees and strong straight arms … and crawling on all fours.

We all want babies to be safe and to do as our doctors advise, but they simply want babies to sleep on their backs. Playing on their tummies is not just fine - it's important to their development.

  • Check out these great videos on Tummy Time by


For more information on child health, parenting and services in Simcoe Muskoka, please contact your health care provider or contact Health Connection by calling 1-705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., by email or connect with us wherever you are on Facebook or Twitter.

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