The Importance of Tummy Time: How and When to Start, Plus Fun Activity Ideas

Want to boost your baby's development? Tummy time provides a wealth of benefits for newborns and young infants. It strengthens their core muscles, promotes sensory exploration, and even helps prevent flat head syndrome. Discover the tips and tricks to encourage safe and engaging tummy time for both you and your little one.

As a new parent, you may have heard about the benefits of tummy time for your baby. But what exactly is tummy time, and why is it important? In this article, we’ll explore the importance of tummy time, discuss how and when to start, and provide fun activity ideas to keep both you and your little one engaged.

What is Tummy Time?

Tummy time is the practice of placing your baby on their stomach while they are awake and supervised. This essential activity helps babies develop their neck, shoulder, and arm muscles while also encouraging other critical developmental milestones.

Benefits of Tummy Time

Physical Development

One of the primary benefits of tummy time is promoting physical development. As your baby spends time on their tummy, they will work on building strength in their neck, back, and core muscles. This muscle development is crucial for meeting milestones such as rolling over, sitting up, and crawling.

Sensory and Cognitive Development

Tummy time also plays a vital role in your baby’s sensory and cognitive development. When your little one is on their stomach, they have a new perspective of their environment, encouraging curiosity and exploration. This exposure to different sights, sounds, and textures helps stimulate their brain development.

Prevention of Flat Head Syndrome

Spending too much time on their back can lead to a condition called plagiocephaly, or flat head syndrome, in babies. Tummy time helps prevent this by distributing pressure more evenly across your baby’s skull, reducing the risk of developing a flat spot.

Bonding Opportunities

Tummy time offers an excellent opportunity for parents and caregivers to bond with their baby. Engaging in activities together during this time strengthens your emotional connection and encourages healthy attachment.

When to Start Tummy Time

It’s never too early to begin tummy time! You can start as soon as you bring your baby home from the hospital. However, it’s essential to ease into it and follow your baby’s cues. Begin with just a few minutes per session and gradually increase the duration as your baby becomes more comfortable and stronger.

How to Do Tummy Time

Setting Up the Space

Choose a clean, flat surface for tummy time, such as a play mat or a blanket on the floor. Ensure the area is free of hazards and distractions, and keep a close eye on your baby throughout the session.

The Ideal Duration

Aim for a total of 15-30 minutes of tummy time per day, broken up into several sessions. As your baby grows and becomes more comfortable, you can gradually increase the duration of each session.

Positions and Techniques

There are various ways to position your baby for tummy time. You can start by placing your baby directly on the floor or a play mat. As they gain strength, you can introduce other positions, such as laying them across your lap or using a tummy time pillow to provide extra support.

Fun Activities for Tummy Time

Incorporating Toys

Using age-appropriate toys during tummy time can make it more enjoyable for your baby. Offer toys that make sounds, have bright colors, or feature interesting textures to encourage your baby to reach, grasp, and explore.

Singing and Storytelling

Sing songs or tell stories to your baby while they’re on their tummy. This not only entertains them but also helps develop their listening skills and language comprehension.

Visual Stimulation

Place colorful pictures, books, or mirrors near your baby during tummy time to encourage visual tracking and stimulate their developing vision.

Exploring Textures

Provide a variety of textured materials for your baby to touch and explore during tummy time. This can include soft blankets, crinkly toys, or textured play mats, which help develop their sense of touch and fine motor skills.

Safety Tips

Always supervise your baby during tummy time and ensure the environment is safe. Never leave your baby unattended, and be sure to place them on their back for sleep to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

The Importance of Play in Tummy Time

In addition to the physical and cognitive benefits, tummy time also provides a fantastic opportunity for play and interaction between you and your baby. Play is an essential component of healthy development, and incorporating play into tummy time can make the experience more enjoyable and rewarding for both of you.

Imitation and Interaction

Imitate your baby’s movements, facial expressions, and sounds during tummy time to encourage interaction and bonding. This type of play can help your baby develop social and emotional skills and feel more connected to you.

Encourage Exploration

Place toys and objects of different shapes, sizes, and textures around your baby during tummy time to promote exploration and curiosity. Encourage them to reach for and investigate these items, fostering their fine motor skills and cognitive development.

Physical Play

Gently touch, tickle, or stroke your baby during tummy time to introduce new sensory experiences and encourage physical play. Be responsive to your baby’s cues and preferences, adjusting your touch and interactions based on their reactions.

Tummy Time for Older Babies and Toddlers

As your baby grows and becomes more mobile, you may wonder how tummy time should evolve. While the focus of tummy time may shift, it continues to be a valuable activity for your child’s development.

Crawling and Scooting

Once your baby starts crawling or scooting, tummy time can be a great opportunity for them to practice these newfound skills. Encourage movement by placing toys or objects just out of reach or using your voice to motivate them.

Building Core Strength

Even as your baby becomes more mobile, tummy time remains important for strengthening their core muscles, which are crucial for sitting, standing, and walking. Continue to incorporate tummy time into their daily routine to support their ongoing physical development.

Encouraging Independent Play

As your child transitions into toddlerhood, tummy time can be an excellent opportunity for independent play. Provide a variety of age-appropriate toys and materials for them to explore and manipulate, fostering their creativity and cognitive development.

Additional Tummy Time Tips and Tricks

If your baby still seems to be struggling with tummy time or not enjoying it as much as you’d like, try these additional tips and tricks:

Make it a Routine

Incorporate tummy time into your baby’s daily routine so that they come to expect and feel comfortable with it. You can include tummy time after diaper changes, during playtime, or even as part of a bedtime routine.

Get Down on Their Level

Join your baby on the floor during tummy time to provide reassurance, comfort, and support. Being at eye level with your little one can help them feel more secure and encourage engagement.

Be Patient and Persistent

If your baby is initially resistant to tummy time, don’t be discouraged. Patience and persistence are key. Gradually increase the duration and frequency of tummy time sessions as your baby becomes more comfortable and shows signs of progress.

Monitor Progress

Keep track of your baby’s milestones during tummy time, such as lifting their head, pushing up on their arms, and rolling over. Celebrate these achievements and use them as motivation to continue with tummy time.

Seek Professional Advice

If your baby continues to struggle with tummy time or isn’t meeting developmental milestones, consult your pediatrician or a pediatric occupational therapist for guidance and support.


Tummy time is an essential activity for your baby’s physical, sensory, and cognitive development. By starting early and incorporating fun activities, you can make tummy time an enjoyable and beneficial experience for both you and your little one. Remember to always prioritize safety and follow your baby’s cues to ensure a positive tummy time experience.

By incorporating engaging activities, following safety guidelines, and being patient and persistent, you can help ensure that tummy time remains an enjoyable and beneficial experience for both you and your little one. As your child grows and their needs change, continue to adapt tummy time sessions to support their ongoing development and foster a lifelong love of play and learning.


  1. What if my baby hates tummy time?
    It’s normal for some babies to initially dislike tummy time. Be patient, and try to make it more enjoyable by incorporating toys, singing, or engaging in other activities. Start with shorter sessions and gradually increase the duration as your baby becomes more comfortable.

  2. Can I do tummy time on my chest?
    Yes! Laying your baby on your chest while you are reclined is a great way to bond and provide tummy time. Just make sure your baby’s airway is clear, and you can maintain constant supervision.

  3. What if my baby falls asleep during tummy time?
    If your baby falls asleep during tummy time, gently transfer them to their back for sleeping. It’s crucial to follow the “Back to Sleep” guidelines to reduce the risk of SIDS.

  4. How can I tell if my baby is getting enough tummy time?
    Aim for 15-30 minutes of tummy time per day, broken into multiple sessions. If your baby is making progress in their physical development, such as lifting their head, pushing up on their arms, and eventually rolling over, they’re likely getting enough tummy time.

  5. Is tummy time necessary if my baby spends time in a baby carrier?
    While baby carriers can help develop some muscle strength, tummy time is still essential for promoting the full range of physical and cognitive development. Be sure to include tummy time in your baby’s daily routine, even if they spend time in a carrier.

  1. What should I do if my baby has reflux? Can they still do tummy time?
    If your baby has reflux, consult your pediatrician for specific guidance on tummy time. In general, you can still do tummy time with a baby who has reflux, but it’s important to avoid tummy time immediately after feeding. Consider waiting 30 minutes to an hour after a feeding before beginning tummy time to reduce the risk of discomfort or spit-up.

  2. Can I start tummy time if my baby has a cold or congestion?
    If your baby has a cold or congestion, it’s essential to monitor their comfort and breathing during tummy time. You may need to adjust the position or duration of tummy time sessions to ensure your baby remains comfortable and can breathe easily. Consult your pediatrician if you have concerns about doing tummy time while your baby is unwell.

  3. How can I help my baby develop head control during tummy time?
    Encourage your baby to lift and turn their head by providing interesting visual and auditory stimuli. Place colorful toys, mirrors, or pictures nearby and use sounds or your voice to capture their attention. As your baby’s neck muscles strengthen, they will begin to develop better head control.

  4. My baby can already sit up independently. Do they still need tummy time?
    While independent sitting is an essential milestone, tummy time continues to be valuable for strengthening your baby’s neck, back, and core muscles. You can gradually reduce the frequency and duration of tummy time as your baby becomes more mobile, but it’s still a beneficial activity to include in their daily routine.

  5. What if my baby rolls over during tummy time? Should I put them back on their tummy?

If your baby rolls over during tummy time, you can choose to either let them enjoy their new position or gently reposition them back onto their tummy. Rolling over is an important milestone, and allowing your baby to practice this skill can contribute to their overall physical development. You can also try to encourage them to roll back onto their tummy by using toys or your voice to motivate them. Just remember to always supervise your baby during tummy time and any rolling activities.

  1. Do preemies need tummy time?

Yes, preemies can benefit from tummy time just like full-term babies. However, it’s important to consult with your pediatrician or neonatologist for specific guidance on when to start tummy time and any modifications that may be necessary for your preemie.

  1. How can I help my baby feel more comfortable during tummy time?

To help your baby feel more comfortable, start with shorter sessions and gradually increase the duration as they become more accustomed to the activity. You can also provide extra support by using a tummy time pillow or by placing your baby across your lap. Always be present and engaged during tummy time to provide reassurance and comfort.

  1. What should I do if my baby starts to cry during tummy time?

If your baby starts to cry during tummy time, try to soothe them by talking, singing, or providing gentle physical touch. If they continue to be upset, it’s okay to end the session and try again later. Remember to be patient and follow your baby’s cues, gradually increasing the duration of tummy time as they become more comfortable.

  1. Can I do tummy time with my baby if they have hip dysplasia?

If your baby has hip dysplasia, consult your pediatrician or orthopedic specialist for specific guidance on tummy time. Depending on your baby’s treatment plan, certain modifications or precautions may be necessary to ensure their safety and comfort during tummy time.

  1. How can I tell if my baby is getting tired during tummy time?

Signs that your baby is getting tired during tummy time may include fussiness, difficulty lifting their head, excessive drooling, or decreased activity. Pay close attention to your baby’s cues, and if they seem to be getting tired, it’s okay to end the session and try again later. Remember that tummy time should be a positive experience, and it’s essential to follow your baby’s signals to ensure they are comfortable and engaged.

  1. How often should I do tummy time with my older baby or toddler?

As your baby grows and becomes more mobile, you can adjust the frequency and duration of tummy time to suit their needs. Aim for several sessions throughout the day, focusing on building core strength, promoting independent play, and encouraging movement and exploration.

  1. Do I need to supervise my older baby or toddler during tummy time?

Even as your child becomes more independent, it’s essential to provide supervision during tummy time to ensure their safety. You can encourage independent play while still being present and available to offer support and assistance as needed.

  1. What types of toys are appropriate for tummy time with an older baby or toddler?

As your child grows, choose age-appropriate toys that encourage exploration, creativity, and fine motor skill development. This may include blocks, puzzles, shape sorters, and other toys that promote problem-solving and manipulation.

  1. How can I encourage my older baby or toddler to stay engaged during tummy time?

Keep tummy time sessions fresh and engaging by rotating toys, incorporating new activities, and offering your child opportunities to explore and play independently. You can also use your voice and presence to provide encouragement and support as needed.

  1. When should I stop doing tummy time with my child?

There is no specific age at which you should stop doing tummy time. As your child grows and becomes more mobile, tummy time may naturally transition into other activities that promote physical development, such as crawling, walking, and playing. Continue to provide opportunities for your child to build core strength and explore their environment, adapting activities to suit their individual needs and abilities.


We’d love to keep you updated with our latest news and offers 😎

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *