Tummy time isn’t just for infants. It’s a developmental position that has benefits throughout the lifespan, and most of our students didn’t get enough when they were little, so it’s worthwhile to incorporate it into their everyday activities in the home and classroom every chance we can get.
When children are on their bellies on a flat, firm surface, like the floor, propped up on their elbows, as in the picture above, they support their upper body weight through their shoulders. This position will improve the stability and strength in the shoulders and upper back and promote prone extension, one of the most important developmental patterns for proper sensory integration. This position also provides neck extension, which activates the brain stem to regulate the nervous system.
- Improved core strength, the key to reducing poor posture or slouching; reducing overall fatigue and improved attention to classroom instruction.
- Improved shoulder stability. Stable shoulders allow for more precise movements of the hand during writing and cutting.
- Improved proprioceptive input. This is our sense of “body awareness,” and impacts our understanding of where our body is in space and how it moves.
- Improved vestibular processing for improved balance and coordination.
- Improved neurological regulation through heavy work, leading to increased calm and focus and decreased fidgeting.
- Promotes visual motor and ocular motor development through improved head and neck stability.
Tummy Time Strategies:
Use tummy time for individual or group activities, such as:
- Play games
- Do puzzles
- Color or draw
- iPad/Tablet time
- Watching television
If a child becomes fatigued in this position, have them gradually build their tolerance to it. Do a small amount of tummy time, take a break, and encourage them to try it again. Their strength for this position will grow over time through exposure and practice.