Does your baby hate tummy time? Of course your baby hates tummy time! All babies hate tummy time. That’s because it’s hard, and it often makes our little ones cry. It’s like tose burpees that exercise fanatics talk about — hard but ultimately really, really good for your whole body. We have to do tummy time while babies are awake because they sleep on their backs and don’t get to practice lifting up in bed. And we have to have babies sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It’s all for the good of the babies — or so we tell ourselves as they cry their way through tummy time.
Or maybe not. A new study of the time at which infants first rolled over reveals tummy time might be as important as we think!
Canadian researchers compared 1,114 infants born from 1990 to 1992, just before the “back to sleep” campaign began, with 351 infants born 20 years later. They found no difference between the two groups in the age at which prone to supine or supine to prone rolling began, or in the order in which those behaviors appeared.
They were not able to measure the effect of “tummy time,” but they note that it is not known how many parents consistently use the procedure and that, anecdotally, most who do find it difficult to keep their babies on their bellies for any length of time.
Well, great. I tortured my babies with tummy time for nothing. They would have rolled over anyway.
I wouldn’t take this study as gospel, though. There are still several reasons to give babies tummy time. For example, it allows our little ones to get off their heads and avoid flat spots, and it gives them a different perspective on the world. And when my baby was born, she tended to let her head tilt to one side, and our doctor wanted her on her tummy to get her used to holding her head straight. Plus, tummy time certainly doesn’t hurt anything.
My recommendation? Consult your pediatrician about how much tummy time your baby needs. Just don’t feel too guilty if tummy time doesn’t happen every day!