Tummy time play

The arrival of a newborn comes with many questions. One that comes back often is whether or not we should put our baby on their belly.

Since paediatricians started urging parents to put babies to sleep on their backs, the occurrence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) decreased by 40% 1. However, parents are now scared to place their babies on the belly during their waking moments. This lack of tummy time can lead to motor development problems and plagiocephaly.  In the long run, it can affect your child’s global development and their ability to learn to reach for objects, to crawl, to walk on all fours, to stand and to walk.

It is important to start putting your baby on their stomach from birth, a few minutes at a time for a total of about one hour each day until the age of three months2.  Babies often complain when we place them on their stomach. The earliest you start and maintain a regular schedule of tummy play, the more your baby will stretch and strengthen their back, core and neck muscles. Changing the way your baby lays often is very important to help them develop their strength3.

Here are a few tummy time advices
  • Put you baby on their tummy for a few minutes every time you change their diaper. You can prop them on a little towel rolled under their armpits;
  • You can place your baby’s tummy on your forearm and carry them around the house face down. Always keep your arm close to your body;  
  • Put your baby down on their tummy and lie in front of them. They are attracted by your face and voice and will try to lift their head. Move from one side to the other to encourage them to move their head;
  • Lie down with your baby on your belly. Always keep your hands on them to make sure they don’t fall. Because newborns don’t lift their head much, move their head’s position left and right now and again so they won’t like one side more than the other. 
  • Use a mirror to keep your baby interested during their tummy time. They love looking at themselves!;
  • Put your baby on your lap and hold their bum to prevent them from rolling. Vary their positions by putting them sometimes on your right thigh, sometimes on your left.
What else can I do to encourage my baby to move their body and turn their head4?
  • When it is time to put them to bed, change the way you put them in the crib; 
  • If you install a mobile, place it in line with their thorax or lower so they will have to stretch their neck to see it;
  • Change their diaper in different angles and in different places;
  • Instead of holding their ankles when you change them, place their knees on their belly and hold them like that while you are changing them. It will stretch their back muscles;
  • After their bath, place your baby on their belly to dry them;
What are the signs indicating that my baby needs to see a chiropractor?
  • Your baby has a preference for holding their head (always right or always left);
  • Your baby cannot lift their head up and push themselves up on their forearms around three months old;

Chiropractic is a health profession that helps recovering and maintaining human health through the interaction of the nervous, muscular and skeletal systems. Chiropractic adjustment aims to restore spinal joint mobility and to reduce muscle spasms and inflammation.

In infants, a spinal adjustment is done using the fingertips and the pressure applied is very light, like a gentle touch.

A regular chiropractic follow-up can help identify possible sources of spinal dysfunction and prevent future problems. In addition to chiropractic adjustments, this follow-up can include recommendations for a healthy lifestyle, tips on how to improve your child’s posture or on how to wear a backpack properly and exercise ideas. A healthy spine is key to a better health. 

For more information, feel free to contact me.


  1. Pathways awareness
  2. Idem
  3. Ferland, Francine (2004), Le développement de l’enfant au quotidien, Éditions de l’Hôpital Ste-Justine
  4. Pathways awareness
Joëlle Malenfant

Dr. Joëlle Malenfant is a chiropractionner in Quebec City. She has a postgraduate doctorate in chiropractic care for pregnant women and children. She accompanies women in labour and is a volunteer at Entraide Naturo-Lait, an organization supporting breastfeeding. Joëlle is also the proud mother of a 4- year-old boy, Christophe. Clinique chiropratique Maguire 1452, rue Maguire, bureau 100 Québec, Québec G1T 1Z4 Tél : 418.684.0004418.684.0004 Call Send SMS Add to Skype You'll need Skype CreditFree via Skype

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