'Tummy Time' Is Unnecessary and Cruel?!


tummy time babyThe 'Back to Sleep' campaign works to keep babies safe, but it also means lots of little ones have flat heads. It also means there is a need for 'Tummy Time' -- a designated time every single day (some recommend at least TWO HOURS a day!) where baby is placed on their soft and squishy belly to encourage them to hold their head up, build those back and neck muscles, and, of course, take pressure off the little head.

So when I heard of someone saying that this practice is not only unnecessary, but mean, I wanted to know more.

Irene Gutteridge, director and producer of "Baby Liv" videos, told Janet Lansbury that she feels not only is Tummy Time unnecessary, but that it's cruel.

Gutteridge says that babies who have not yet developed the ability to roll onto their bellies really aren't designed to be there:

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.

I have to admit the only real Tummy Time I did with my kiddos, especially my second, was ON me. We'd be doing a laid back nursing position, or I'd just be laying on the couch with them on me, and they'd raise their tiny little heads to see my face. Even newborns can raise their heads (and even crawl a little!) to get to the breast when placed on top of their mom's belly. But placed on the floor? Not so much.

How many parents do you hear complaining that their baby HATES Tummy Time? Gutteridge says that's your baby's way of saying, “Hey, what’s going on, this sucks. I’m uncomfortable. HELP!

I'm not so sure Tummy Time is evil, but it does look awkward on the floor, especially when they're too little to roll that way themselves. I always felt bad when their little heads would drop and the face would smack on the floor (even on the padded, soft carpet and blanket).

My personal opinion, for what it's worth, is that babies who are kept upright throughout the majority of the day, in carriers, arms, instead of laid down in car seats, bassinets, bouncers are going to benefit a lot, and you can see them working those little muscles to stabilize their heads then as well. It's probably part of the reason I didn't do a lot of Tummy Time, even though both my kids were rolling at less than a month old. I'm a big supporter of avoiding "Container Syndrome," which also helps alleviate a lot of flat head issues as well.

What do you guys think? Is Tummy Time a necessary evil or an unnecessary waste of time?


Image via koadmunkee/Flickr

baby activities, baby development, milestones, natural parenting


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mompam mompam

I never did tummy time with my kids. They hated it. They all crawled, walked, ran and everything else on time. Now they are all super athletic. I think it's a load of crap.

eema.... eema.gray

I wore mine.  :-)  It counts the same as being on their tummies on the floor and they were heck of a lot happier.

Kelsey Reed

My son hated it also. Only did it a few times. He is a perfectly fine 10 month old!

Reeka... ReekaJean

Yes, I agree with you. Tummy Time didn't become a necessity because of the safety of babies sleeping on their backs, it became a necessity because kids are always in SOMETHING which puts their heads back. Carrier carseats, strollers, play pens, bouncers, cribs... you name it, the majority of parents have a newborn sitting in it.

I agree that tummy time is not natural for the infant and may cause some unneccessary stress. Maybe what doctors SHOULD be promoting is getting our babies out of the containers and holding them the way they were designed to be held. :) Against our bodies.

And before anyone starts the whole "I don't have enough arms" thing -- get a sling or other soft carrier. And dear goodness, not a Baby Bjorn or front facing carrier. Front facing does damage to their spines and hips.

Ryan never had scheduled tummy time. But he was hardly ever laying in anything. He was always in someone's arms, in a sling, on our laps, etc. He even slept in the crook of my arm as a newborn. Flat heads aren't due to this current back-to-sleep campaign against SIDS. Flat heads are the ultimate sign of a "hands-off" parent.

Sarah Thomas

I tried to do it with my first everyday, but she just screamed. So, with my 2nd and 3rd I just let them lay on my belly. They would try to lift their heads up to look at me and it was a great bonding experience for us. They all crawled and walked on time and my girls are great at sports, so, I'm not sold on tummy time. 

Melissa Owsiany Reineke

I did tummy time, but not nearly as much as was recommended. When baby got cranky, it was over. But then, I held my babies in an upright position - A LOT!

Katherine Lulow

I have never had any sort of structured tummy time for any of my babies. ( I have 4 kiddos) My youngest however likes to be on her tummy for short periods of time on something colorful, like a pattern blanket. I only put her there for very small periods though, like to go to the bathroom or take something out of the oven. For the most part she is in my arms or tied to my body in a carrier. She also sleeps on her belly some too. Usually when she rolls there from her side after nursing in bed.

jaeca... jaecamswin

My kids liked tummy time. Though, I didn't really start doing it until they were holding there heads up pretty well...about 3 months old.

mrsda... mrsdangelo

So when babies were put down on their stomachs to sleep, was back time unnecessary and cruel? I have known LOTS of babies that prefer to be on their stomachs. My daughter didn't like tummy time much, but now (at 7 mos) rolls herself to her tummy awake and asleep and prefers to be there. She was mostly held or carried when very small because she was really colicky, but she was holding her head up early and rolling, I think, because of tummy time.

Sarah Pruitt

I'm pretty sure that it is unecessary.  Babies were meant to sleep on thier tummies (gasp!) and co-sleep while being breastfed.  My babies all co-slept and when they were napping on their own were in my eyesight on their bellies during the day.  Wearing your baby, keeping them in your arms or supported upright are also great ways, like in the story, to exercise those muscle groups that assist in rollng over and sitting up. 


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