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PT: Tummy time is not just for babies!

Updated: Apr 17

Tummy time is key for natural development in babies. But did you know that it’s still very important for toddlers, older kiddos, and even adults? We can all benefit from spending more time on our bellies! It may be uncomfortable at first and feel tiring, but that might be a sign that we need to work on it even more!

We can all benefit from tummy time, but here are some signs that an older child (or adult) could use more time on their belly:

  • Fidgeting a lot in their chair.

  • Have a hard time sitting up or slouching a lot for meals, school work, or table activities.

  • Lay their head down on the table or their arm frequently.

Why it’s helpful:

  • Increases postural core strength (neck, back, and abdominal muscles).

  • Increases shoulder and arm strength, which is important for fine motor skills (eating with utensils, writing, drawing, cutting) and gross motor skills (throwing, crawling, climbing).

  • Helps the two sides of the body learn to coordinate as the child learns to lift one arm at a time and reach in different directions, including across their body, for objects.

  • Increases stability of the neck muscles, which helps support the functional use of vision in other positions.

  • Helps ALL of us counteract the negative effects of looking down at technological devices (which we are doing even more of during the pandemic!)

  • Improves flexibility in the hips, which helps with running, jumping, and climbing and can relieve a tight low back.

  • Very calming to the nervous system.

Spending time every day lying on our stomachs is so beneficial and it’s free - no special equipment needed! Here are a few ways you can work this into your kiddo’s daily routine (and feel free to join them - adults benefit, too!):

  • Lay on your stomach on the floor to read/look at a book or do a puzzle

  • Color while laying on your stomach

  • Lay on your stomach over the edge of a couch or chair while doing one of the above activities on the floor

  • Lying on your stomach over an exercise ball while watching a show

  • Send balls or cars back and forth while laying on your stomach

Try to make this part of your daily routine - think about a time of day when you are already reading, your kiddo is playing on the floor, or you’re both on the floor together doing a game or activity. Start with a few minutes at a time and increase the time gradually. It’s sometimes tiring, but will get easier the more you and your kiddos work on it!

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