By being aware of the anticipated tummy time milestones by month, parents, caregivers, and medical professionals can keep tabs on a baby’s development. If a baby is not progressing as expected at tummy time milestones, it may indicate a need for additional support or therapy to address any underlying motor or physical challenges.
By observing whether a baby is reaching the appropriate milestones within each month, it becomes easier to identify any potential delays or concerns that may require further evaluation or intervention. Each baby is unique and may reach milestones at their own pace. Understanding tummy time milestones by month allows parents and caregivers to tailor their interactions and activities to their baby’s specific needs.
Tummy Time Milestones By Month
Tummy time is a crucial aspect of an infant’s development, providing numerous benefits for their physical and cognitive growth. Placing babies on their stomachs while they are awake and supervised helps strengthen their muscles, improve motor skills, prevent flat spots on their heads, and promote overall development.
Tummy time milestones represent the gradual strengthening of an infant’s muscles, particularly in the neck, upper body, and core. As babies progress through each month, they develop the necessary strength and control to lift their heads, roll, sit, crawl, and eventually stand.
Continue reading to learn more about the crucial developmental stages during this time period as well as the typical tummy time milestones that infants reach from month 1 to month 9.
Here’s what you can expect regarding tummy time milestones during the first month:
- During the first month of life, tummy time primarily focuses on introducing the baby to this new experience
- At this stage, most babies have limited head control. During tummy time, your baby may turn their head from side to side or lift it briefly, but they may not be able to hold it up steadily for very long
- During tummy time, your baby may start to make small arm and leg movements. They might push against the surface with their arms or kick their legs
Tummy time is still a crucial activity for a baby’s development during the second month of life. A month of practice will make the baby significantly stronger and more active during tummy time. The following benchmarks can be anticipated when it comes to second-month tummy time milestones:
- By the second month, your baby’s neck muscles will start to strengthen, allowing them to lift their head higher and for longer periods during tummy time. When lying on their stomach, they might be able to keep their head up and turn it in either direction5
- During tummy time, they may also move their arms and legs more, a sign of growing motor skills. During tummy time, your baby will start to move his or her arms and legs more deliberately. Kicking and pushing against the surface with better coordination of the legs may occur
- As your baby gains more head control and develops stronger muscles, it will begin to stabilize their upper body during tummy time. You may notice that they can support themselves with their forearms, keeping their chest and shoulders off the ground
- By the end of the second month, your baby may be able to tolerate longer periods of tummy time
Many babies can tolerate and enjoy tummy time by the age of three months, and babies continue to improve their tummy time skills. Here are some tummy time milestones to look out for in the third month:
- Babies are usually able to tolerate more tummy time at this age. If they are amused by toys or interact with their surroundings, they might be able to stay on their stomachs for 10 to 15 minutes
- The baby gains more head control. They can hold their heads steady for short periods and look around with more control. When three months old, babies can hold their heads up well and push up with their arms to support their chests while lying on their stomachs6
- During tummy time, some infants may start to raise themselves a little bit by pushing up on their forearms
- Don’t be surprised if your three-month-old rolls from their stomachs to their backs during tummy time, or even attempt to roll from their backs to their stomachs
At around 4 months old, babies continue to make progress in their tummy time skills. Here are some tummy time milestones you can expect during this stage:
- By 4 months, babies have developed stronger neck and upper body muscles, allowing them to lift their heads higher and for longer periods during tummy time. They can hold their heads steady and may be able to push up onto their hands, supporting themselves with straight arms
- Many babies begin to roll over from tummy to back or from back to tummy around 4 months of age. Tummy time helps strengthen their core muscles, making them more capable of initiating and executing the rolling motion
- At 4 months, babies become more interactive during tummy time. They may start reaching for toys, grabbing objects, and exploring their surroundings
- Some babies may start to show early signs of crawling during tummy time. On their tummies, they push up onto their elbows or forearms, rock back and forth, or make an effort to move forward with their arms and legs7. These pre-crawling movements are an important step toward independent locomotion
Infants continue to hone their tummy time skills by the fifth month. Babies are now clearly advancing in their ability to practice on their stomachs. You can anticipate the following tummy time milestones at this stage:
- At 5 months, babies have further developed their neck, shoulder, and core muscles, allowing them to hold their heads up high and steady during tummy time
- They can maintain a steady balance while propped up on their hands, supporting their weight with their arms, and even raising their chests off the floor
- Their head control improves significantly, allowing them to turn their heads from side to side and follow objects with their eyes
- Babies may also demonstrate increased coordination between their upper and lower body movements during tummy time
- Many 5-month-old babies have mastered the skill of rolling over from their stomachs to their backs and vice versa. They may do this deliberately during tummy time or as they explore and play
- Some babies may begin to demonstrate the ability to push up from their tummies into a sitting position, or at least attempt to do so8
As infants grow older, they tend to develop a greater tolerance for tummy time. By 6 months, they may enjoy the activity more and be able to engage in longer periods of play while on their stomach. By the age of 6 months, most infants have achieved several tummy time milestones. Here are some common milestones you can expect to see:
- By 6 months, most infants can lift their heads and chests off the floor while lying on their stomachs. They have better control and can hold their heads steady for longer periods
- At six months, babies reach an exciting milestone during tummy time—rolling from their backs to their stomachs intentionally. This achievement signifies the development of core strength, balance, and coordination
- Infants become more skilled at pushing up onto their hands, transitioning between positions, and exploring their environment
- Some infants may start to pivot or scoot on their tummies, using their arms and legs to move around in a circular motion. This is an early form of crawling and a sign that they are building strength and preparing for more advanced mobility9
- Additionally, they may begin to show signs of attempting to sit up independently10
During tummy time at around 7 months, your baby will continue to build on their previous milestones and develop further strength, coordination, and mobility. By now, babies are more aware of their environment and enjoy interacting with their parents during tummy time. Now parents can make tummy time more engaging by using toys, mirrors, and singing or talking to their babies. Here are some key aspects of tummy time at this age:
- As your baby grows older, they will likely be able to tolerate longer periods of tummy time. Aim for at least 30 to 60 minutes of tummy time spread throughout the day. Remember, there is no such thing as too much tummy time
- By this age, many babies can push up onto their hands with straight arms, lifting their chest and abdomen off the ground. This extended push-up position allows them to have a better view of their surroundings
- At 7 months, some infants may begin to demonstrate more coordinated movements, rocking back and forth on their hands and knees, and showing signs that crawling is imminent
- At this stage, tummy time can contribute to the development of sitting. As your baby gains strength in its neck, shoulders, and core muscles, he or she may start to transition from tummy time to sitting independently11
At around 8 months of age, most infants have gained significant head control and strength in their upper bodies. It’s an exciting stage of development as they become more mobile and independent. Here are some common milestones you can expect during this stage12:
- By 8 months, most babies have developed good head control and can hold their heads steady while on their tummies. They have no difficulty tilting their heads to the side or elevating their heads higher for extended periods of time
- Babies at this age are likely to have developed stronger neck, shoulder, and back muscles. They can push up on their hands and lift their chest off the ground, supporting their weight with their arms
- At 8 months, certain babies may begin to exhibit symptoms of crawling preparation during tummy time. They may begin pushing up onto their hands and knees, swaying back and forth, or perhaps scooting or crawling a few steps ahead
- Through tummy time, babies continue to refine their balance and coordination skills. They learn to adjust their body position, shift their weight, and coordinate movements as they explore their surroundings
Many babies start to become more mobile during tummy time at around 9 months. They may begin to scoot, crawl, or even pull themselves up to a standing position while using furniture or other objects for support. Here are some milestones you can expect during tummy time at this stage13:
- By the 9th month, some babies may start crawling on their hands and knees or using alternative crawling styles, such as the belly crawl or the bear crawl. Tummy time helps strengthen their muscles and coordination, which are essential for crawling
- Tummy time encourages the development of fine motor skills. By 9 months, babies may be able to use their fingers and hands more precisely, such as picking up smaller objects, pointing, or poking at items of interest
- Tummy time continues to enhance a baby’s balance and stability. They learn to maintain their balance while reaching for objects, shifting their weight, and transitioning between different positions
Tummy time milestones play a vital role in an infant’s development, fostering their physical, cognitive, and motor skills. From the first month through the ninth month, babies progress from limited head control to sitting, crawling, and standing with increased strength and coordination. Parents and caregivers should prioritize tummy time as an essential component of their baby’s routine, gradually increasing the duration and providing a safe and stimulating environment.
By embracing tummy time milestones, we can help infants reach their developmental potential and lay the foundation for healthy growth and learning.
Disclaimer: Keep in mind that each baby develops at their own rate, so do not worry if it takes your child a while to accomplish these milestones. Always consult your pediatrician if you have any specific questions about your baby’s development or tummy time.