Tummy time is such an important part of your baby’s development. It’s something that you need to do regularly and it will help your little ones with their important baby milestones and what’s more it can be a lot of fun. I’ve put together some advice and tips about tummy time as well as some of my favourite activity ideas to make it more fun for both of you. So here you go Tummy Time for your baby.
If you have concerns about your baby at all speak with your health visitor or doctor and make them aware of your concerns at your next appointment.
What is Tummy Time
Tummy time is an essential activity for babies that involves placing them on their bellies while they are awake and supervised.
Why is Tummy Time Important
It helps strengthen your baby’s neck, back, and shoulder muscles as they learn to lift their head and work towards eventually crawling (which may seem a very long way off). It also promotes gross motor development by encouraging them to push up on their arms, reach for toys, and eventually roll over
Engaging in regular tummy time sessions also helps prevent flat spots from developing on the back of your baby’s head, which can occur when they spend too much time on their back. Especially as the recommendations from health professionals are that you lay your baby flat on their back to sleep. By spending time on their belly it allows for the redistribution of pressure on the skull, promoting a more symmetrical head shape.
When to Start Tummy Time
Tummy time should be started soon after your baby is born within those first few days of bringing them home. The earlier you start the better it is for your baby, the become accustomed to it quicker and gradually build the strength in their neck and upper body muscles much sooner.
How Much Time Should Tummy Time Be
Initially, tummy time sessions may be brief, just a few minutes at a time, but as your baby becomes used to it extend it more and more. Look for your baby’s cues if they are getting upset then it’s time to change activity, the more often you do it and the more active you are with them during the time, then the more fun it is for them and they will want to spend longer doing it.
How to do Tummy Time
Tummy time isn’t stressful or complicated just be aware that at first, your little one may not like being on their stomachs so may get upset easily – we’ve got some advice further on what to do if they become upset so don’t worry.
Find a safe and comfortable space
You will want to choose a soft and clean area on the floor, a blanket or an activity mat can create a cosy surface for your baby. Don’t be fooled by all singing and dancing playmats they are nice but not essential. We’ve got some recommendations for activity and play mats below.
Start with Short Sessions
Begin by placing your baby on their tummy for a few minutes at a time, two or three times a day. You can gradually increase the duration as your baby gets more comfortable. Try and plan it into your routine. Make sure that your baby is awake and not sleepy, not hungry and has a clean diaper as well.
Get Down on Their Level
Lie down on the floor facing your baby, so you are at eye level. This may be difficult for you soon after birth so it’s an ideal opportunity for your partner to join in bonding and playing with their little one too. This helps them feel secure and encourages interaction.
Use Toys or Colourful Objects
Place some toys and colourful objects within your baby’s reach, and make sure that they are baby safe and stand out, especially with a newborn as their eyesight is still very weak. High-contrast objects like black and white or primary colours are especially good.
As they get older and are on the cusp of crawling start to move the objects further away so that they have to reach for them more and more. The frustration will motivate your little one to begin to crawl.
Offer Support if Needed
If your baby needs some extra support, you can roll up a small towel or use a cushion under their chest to prop them up slightly. This can help them lift their head and make tummy time more comfortable.
Talk, Sing, Read
Make tummy time a fun time, sing some nursery rhymes, make funny noises, read a book check out our pick of the best black and white board books which are ideal for new babies or just talk to them. A newborn will recognise your voice from being inside the womb and this interaction with them down on the floor makes it much more enjoyable for them.
One of our first smiles with my youngest came at tummy time when my oldest and I were singing badly out-of-tune nursery rhymes to them.
Stay Close and Supervise
Always stay close to your baby during tummy time, especially if you are using any form of support. It ensures that they stay safe and makes it possible that you can respond quickly to any of their needs.
How to do Tummy Time with a Newborn
Tummy time like I said above starts from as soon as you bring your baby home – it’s one of our simple activities to do with your newborn and needn’t be stressful for you or your baby.
Simple set up a soft blanket – we used a fleece blank that had a nice texture that our little ones could feel against their skin. Then lay them down on their tummy and my partner or I would lay in front of them talking, singing and making lots of silly noises.
You can add in some rattles, toys and objects but at first don’t expect them to interact with the objects. It won’t be long though so it’s easier to get into the habit sooner rather than later.
It was only a few minutes at first – in fact, it probably took longer to put the blanket down than it did on the floor that first couple of weeks. But we persisted and both enjoyed it pretty quickly.
Subscribe to Rainy Day Mum for Ideas to do with Your Newborn today!
What to do if your baby hates tummy time
Not all babies like tummy time, their not used to it as we spend a lot of time with them on their backs sleeping in those first few months. So if your baby hates tummy time don’t dispair it’s perfectly normal and many mums and dads are experiencing the same thing.
Here’s some tip if you’re there.
Gradually introduce it – start by just laying them on their stomachs a few times for one or two minutes during the day then as they seem content with that increase the time slowly. You’ll find that your baby will get used to being on their bellies and their back, shoulder and neck muscles will strength gradually making it less uncomfortable.
Use props and distractions – Place toys, rattles, or other interesting objects within your baby’s reach. These distractions can capture their attention and make the experience more engaging. You can also try using a small mirror, so they can see their reflection, which often piques their curiosity.
Make it a joint activity – Lie down on the floor facing your baby during tummy time. Make eye contact, talk (if you find it difficult to talk to your baby, then why not read aloud a book), sing, or make funny sounds to engage your baby’s attention and make the experience more enjoyable.
Tummy Time Equipment
We have included affiliate links to some of the products and resources as an associate we may earn from qualifying purchases.
You really don’t need a lot of equipment for tummy time, the all singing and all dancing activity mats look fantastic but very soon your baby will outgrow them. So here’s some simple ideas that we would recommend.
This simple play activity mat is great, double sides with a black and white side for newborns and a colourful mat for older babies it will last for a while.
A mirror is a great idea for your little one and this one which comes in black and white and colours is a simple addition to your play basket for your baby.
Rattles are fantastic fun – this set has a soft end and makes a fun noise so perfect for your newborn baby.
Tummy Time Activities
From those first few days to the first crawl tummy time will be an integral part of your days with your new baby. It can be fun and we’ve found some fantastic DIY Tummy Time activities that you can put together for your baby check them out below:
- Tummy Time Sensory Googly Eye Bag
- Mirror Playtime
- Mess Free Tummy Time Finger Painting
- DIY Tummy Time Toy Your Toddler Can Make
- Tummy Time Water Play
- Tummy Time Rice Play
Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, teacher, mum, and home educator from the UK. She loves getting creative, whether it is with simple and easy crafts and ideas, activities to make learning fun, or delicious recipes that you and your kids can cook together you'll find them all shared here on Rainy Day Mum.