Should Therapists be Recommending Tummy Time

Should you be recommending tummy time for children with neuromotor issues?

Please share your thoughts and experiences and then hear from our expert.

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19 Responses to Should Therapists be Recommending Tummy Time

  1. Marie Johnson says:

    Yes! Unless there is a contraindication or precautions to not put pressure on the tummy! Most times tummy time is fine for short amounts of time and supervision! No tummy time on open wounds or heart surgeries for a time.

    • Why would this even be a question for the average infant and patient unless there was a medical reason contradicting pressure on the abdomen. It is essential for normal development. I see too many kids delayed in development for no other reason but lack of tummy time. It develops all the muscles needed for more advanced postures like head control, sitting and crawling.

  2. Joanna Hernandez says:

    I work with children with severe neuromuscular, respiratory, developmental issues and all have G tubes and trachs and I highly recommend supervised tummy time. Even those with cardiac issues. Of course they are all on monitors for heart rate and oxygen saturation and need close monitoring. Prone time is very important for development of muscles and mobility.

  3. Christina Dorward says:

    Yes. Tummy time is not only beneficial for typically developing kids. Not only does tummy time help with head control, trunk strength, and shoulder stability, the weight-bearing and surface contact help with developing body awareness and emotional grounding. Adaptations can be made for GERD, g-tubes, etc.

  4. Kimberly says:

    Yes! Babies with neuromotor issues need tummy time even more then their typically developing peers. It is important to teach parents how to adapt tummy time to be as enjoyable as possible, using themselves (baby lying on their chest, or across their leg, doing tummy time next to them), rolled receiving blankets, boppy pillows, therapy ball, mirrors, toys etc. For babies who may not roll or crawl supervised tummy time gives them the opportunity to strengthen their trunk, shoulder girdle, upper extremities and to improve head control. Many parents continue to be misinformed about the benefits of simply being on the floor and not in a baby container, children of all abilities need the chance to experience the world without being strapped in.

  5. Coleen says:

    Even when pressure on the belly is contraindicated you can usually still find a way of positioning & propping to achieve anti gravity head control and weight bearing through upper extremities.

  6. Valerie says:

    Most definitely! It is a normal developmental posture and crucial for development of posterior spinal muscles and head control. Would specify that the child should not be unattended and that visual stimulation and social interaction be encouraged during the same time, as well as reaching and weight shifting.


  8. Larry says:

    “Tummy Time” Spending time in prone is essential not only for physical development, but visual, vestibular and sensory development as well. These past few years I have treated many children diagnosed with motor coordination disorder. These children present with moderate weakness in the upper extremities, motor planning deficits and poor hand/eye coordination which I attribute to them not being in prone to work these areas. Consistent in their medical histories is that the child hated to be placed in prone. If we are attempting to facilitate and emulate normal movement in children with neurological disorders then “tummy time” is a must with precautions taken when indicated.

  9. Cindy Napoli says:

    I always recommend supervised tummy time! It’s our job as therapist to find the right fit for the child-parent connection! Tummy time is such an important skill that cannot be replaced in any other position or provide development that occurs in any equipment. Rarely are there any contraindications- and if there are- that’s the beauty of being a therapist- to find a way to make it parent friendly and safe!
    Cindy Napoli, MOTR/L; LPTA, CEIM

  10. Lynn Miller says:

    Yes, and lots of it with supervision of course. Agree with comments above. It is absolutely essential for development. I also stress its importance to my friends with normally developing infants as well.

  11. Margaret Kithcart says:

    Tummy time is so important for the overall development in gross motor skills including head and neck control, improved shoulder girdle strength and overall back extension strength.

  12. Laura Micali says:

    The goal for all children is symmetry, so in essence children should have developmental time in all positions.
    I have never been a believer in just placing an infant on the floor to achieve tummy time if the baby cries through it. There are so many creative ways to position children that can be enjoyable for parents and children. I often position my parents and then position the baby on top of the parents. This way the child gets to see what they love most… Mommy’s face and the mom doesn’t have to be tortured through screaming “tummy time!”

    So, yes tummy time is important, but making them cry through it is not!
    Laura Micali MSPT

  13. Carola d'Emery, PT, PhD says:

    The statement “children with neuromotor issues” is very vague, so that I would require clarification, before offering a definitive answer.
    Without a doubt, Tummy Time facilitates advances in cognition, postural control and acquisition of motor milestones, and in this case, I would recommend the practitioner makes sure there are no contraindications of any kind, and if possible, to access support from a senior clinician via web, using real time observation and less preferable, a video that shows the child and the practitioner as they move through a session.
    In that fashion, the recommendations would be specif to the child and the practitioner.

  14. Rhona Melberg says:

    Yes. Tummy time should be recommended for most children. The exception would be if there is a medical contraindication. The child should not be forced to remain on their tummy if they cannot tolerate it and really begin crying and are in pain and uncomfortable. But if tolerated it is important for their development. Especially in light of the fact that infants no longer sleep on their tummies. Even typically developing children sometimes need to be encouraged to spend time on their tummies to assure good head and trunk development.

  15. Roxanne Small PT says:

    The specific question was “Is tummy time appropriate for children with neuromotor issues?” I do not think that a child having neuromotor issues would in anyway contraindicate using prone positioning. Even in cases where the child demonstrates excessive extension, tummy time is valuable. The ventral contact surface is important for future tactile development; the visual experience when on the tummy is very different than when upright or supine and helps develop upper visual fields as well as peripheral fields; the outward rotation of the shoulders and hips with simultaneous tactile input on the inner surfaces of arms and legs is very beneficial. These are but a few of the ways the child will benefit from tummy time. I agree that there are many ways to place a child prone to increase their tolerance. This said, the end goal should be to have the child tolerate/enjoy tummy time on the floor. Tummy time on their parent, over a boppy, or over your lap are very different sensory motor experiences. They can be a help towards the end goal, but they are not a substitute.

  16. pati cale says:

    certainly release pressure if respiration or tubes/trach etc are present
    how else will vestibular, anterior strength, symmetry of motion, proprioception, etc get fully developed
    I use deflated ball often for prone along with lap, boppy etc

  17. Mandy says:

    Thank you all for your great responses. Please check our latest blog posting for a reply from our expert, pediatric PT Barbara Hodge.

  18. Kelly Carmody says:

    Agree with above comments regarding benefits and alternatives/methods of achieving prone. In addition, prone positioning generally benefits respiratory status and decreases GERD.

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