It might sound a little vague when you hear the words’ tummy time’ as a new mom. You are told how crucial tummy time is for your baby, but where do you even start? You might have questions like, ‘How long should my baby do tummy time? What if my baby hates it?’ In this article, you’ll find answers to the most asked tummy time questions, plus a list of tummy time activities by age!
Let’s jump right in!
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Tummy Time Activities By Age
Quick reminder: Tummy time should always be supervised! Whether your baby is practicing tummy time, even if it’s on the floor, you should always be right next to your baby watching.
Tummy Time Activities: Newborn – 6 Weeks Old
Tummy to Tummy
When first starting tummy time with your newborn, tummy to tummy can be the easiest and most comfortable option for your little one.
To practice tummy to tummy, you will first lay back on some pillows, either on the couch or your bed. Try to lay at an angle and not flat on your back. Then, you will lay your baby on your tummy or chest with their face near yours.
Tummy to tummy is an excellent option because you are still holding your child, which gives them a sense of security. Plus, your baby can see your face, which can help calm them if they get fussy during tummy time.
Cradle In Your Arms
Cradling your baby in your arms tummy down is often referred to as the ‘football hold.’ This hold can be tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not only great for newborn tummy time but also for calming down a fussy baby.
For the football hold, you will place one hand under your baby’s belly and between their legs. Your baby will lay tummy-down on your forearm, with their head resting near your elbow. You can use your other hand to help support their head and neck.
Once your baby is in the football hold, you can walk around your house, and they can take in their environment.
Using Pillow Props
Once your baby is a few weeks old, you can start using different props while practicing tummy time on the floor.
If you have a breastfeeding pillow, you can prop your baby on the pillow at an angle with their arms over the top of it. But sometimes, a breastfeeding pillow might be too large for your baby to be comfortable. This mini Boppy pillow is the perfect size for babies, and it also has little toys attached to the front.
Another option you can try is to roll up a swaddle and put it underneath your baby’s arms. My son preferred this method over using a breastfeeding pillow, and I think it was because he was closer to the ground, and the blanket was more firm than a big pillow.
Black And White Toys
Black and white toys and books are so beneficial for your baby from the time they are a newborn until they are around 3-months-old. Because your baby’s eyesight is developing like crazy, black and white books and toys are the easiest for them to see.
My son always loved this black and white book from Baby Einstein; he loved looking at this book well past three months of age! Another reason this book is fantastic is that it has different sensory pages that babies love!
Tummy Time Activities: 6-Weeks-Old To 6-Months-Olds
Baby’s love to look at themselves in the mirror; they love to look at the ‘other baby’! Baby-safe mirrors are especially great for tummy time because they help to keep your baby interested in the activity.
This mirror is a wonderful option because it props itself up and has a black and white border to give your baby even more to look at!
Get On Their Level
In addition to your baby loving their reflection, they also love to look at you! When you get face-to-face with your baby, it can provide a lot of entertainment for them.
If you don’t want to get down on the floor, I have found that using your bed for this activity is excellent! I would always lay my baby in the middle of our bed and then kneel on the floor in front of him.
Using a baby gym during tummy time is great for keeping them interested, especially as your baby gets a little older!
Most baby gyms provide a colorful and intriguing space for your baby to practice tummy time. Many gyms also come with toys that your baby can play with while on their tummy.
This baby gym is a great option and can be used for a long time!
Sensory toys are essential for entertaining your little one during tummy time activities. In addition to entertaining your baby, sensory toys are great for promoting motor skill development.
One of our favorite sensory toys to play with during tummy time is this Sensory Peacock. This peacock toy has many different sounds and textures, as well as colors.
Another great sensory toy for tummy time is this Teething Rattle. It’s great for babies to chew on, easy for them to hold, and it makes fun sounds that babies love!
And finally, crinkle books are also great for tummy time activities. These books are soft, durable, and have many fun sensory aspects for your baby to explore!
Water Tummy Time Mat
Water tummy time mats are so much fun for babies. If you have never seen these mats, they are little play mats filled with water and little floating toys. Your baby can practice tummy time while grabbing at the floating toys and looking at the colorful fish!
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If you have an exercise ball or yoga ball in your home, it can quickly turn into one of many fun tummy time activities!
First, you will want to lay a thick blanket on top of the ball, which will make this activity more comfortable for your baby. Then, you will place your baby on the ball while keeping a firm hold on them.
Once your baby warms up to being on the ball, you can start to roll the ball back and forth gently or side to side.
Just remember, you need to always have a good hold on your baby. If they start to fuss or squirm, it’s best to end the activity and try again later.
Holding a toy in front of your baby is a great way to entertain them during tummy time. If you slowly move the toy back and forth in front of your baby’s face, they will track the toy and try to see where it’s going.
When picking a toy to use for tracking, you will want a vibrant, exciting toy. Bonus points if it makes noise! This toy is a great choice.
Circle Of Books
If you have board books in your home, I highly recommend you set up a circle of books around your baby! This tummy time activity is especially great for babies who are near crawling.
When you set up the books around your child, it gives them many things to look at. The books also give your baby a little incentive to crawl or scoot towards them.
For younger babies, I love these black-and-white board books. And for older babies, any board books will do! Our son’s favorite books have always been Sandra Boynton’s books, so those are always a terrific place to start.
Peek-a-boo is one of the tummy time activities that’s not only fun for you and your child but it’s also a learning activity! When you play peek-a-boo, it helps to teach your child object permanence.
Object permanence means knowing that objects continue to exist, even when they cannot directly be seen, touched, or heard.
To play peek-a-boo, you don’t need much! You can hide behind your hands, a baby blanket, or even a stuffed animal. Your baby will love the game any way you choose to play!
Why is tummy time so important?
Tummy time is an important activity for your baby for many reasons. Let’s go over the top three reasons to do tummy time:
The main reason why tummy time is so important is that it helps your baby strengthen many muscles, including their neck, back, core, and arm muscles.
It’s crucial that your baby builds strength in their muscles. Your baby utilizes all of these muscles to reach developmental milestones like rolling, sitting up, and crawling.
Prevents Flat Spots
The following reason why tummy time is necessary is that it can help to prevent your baby from getting flat spots on their head.
Because it’s recommended that your baby sleeps on their back, you need to ensure that they get enough tummy time throughout the day. This will alleviate your baby from being in one position all the time.
Gives Them A New View
When your baby gets a break from laying down on their back, they get to see their environment from a whole new angle. As your baby gets older, tummy time also gives them the chance to try scooting and crawling.
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When should I start tummy time?
You might think that your newborn is too young for tummy time, but they aren’t!
‘Beginning on the first day home from the hospital, parents should play with the baby two to three times each day while he/she is on his/her stomach.’
The simplest way to start tummy time with your newborn is on your chest, face to face. As your baby gets a little older, you can try moving to the floor on a soft blanket or tummy time mat.
How much tummy time does my baby need?
When starting tummy time with your newborn, you’ll begin very slowly. The AAP article from above suggests, ‘Start with three to five minutes. Over the next few months, gradually increase that time and the frequency of tummy time until the baby has about one hour each day.’
When you read that your baby should do about an hour of tummy time a day, that might sound a little overwhelming. Keep in mind that the one hour is spread throughout the day, not all at once. Four 15-minute sessions of tummy time a day sounds much more manageable.
What if my baby hates tummy time?
If your baby hates tummy time, you are not alone! Here are some great things to try to help your baby adjust to tummy time:
Keep It Short
If your baby hates tummy time and cries the entire time, make sure you don’t force it. It’s perfectly fine if your baby makes it through just one minute before you stop.
I remember my son hated tummy time so much in the beginning. I would set a timer on my phone for one minute, and once it went off, we were done! It was also exciting when he wouldn’t start fussing until a minute and a half or two minutes into tummy time. I knew he was adjusting little by little!
Keep Trying New Things
I know it can be a little stressful when your baby screams every time you try tummy time. Another helpful thing to try is to keep introducing new things.
For example, if your baby isn’t feeling a baby gym, try just a blanket instead, or vise versa. Or, if your baby isn’t entertained by looking at books, try using toys instead.
Avoid Tummy Time After Feedings
Trying tummy time after feedings can bring some discomfort, especially if you have a gassy baby. Even if your baby is happy while doing tummy time after feedings, beware that this might bring more spit-up.
What age should you do tummy time till?
A general rule is to do routine tummy time until your baby starts crawling. Once your baby learns how to crawl, they will be using their muscles in different ways. Not to mention, a mobile baby is not easily contained. 😉
Tummy time can seem like a massive hurdle at times, but before you know it, your baby will be crawling! Take this time with your little one to soak in all of their amazement in the world around them. It is so special.
Before you go, check out these related articles:
- What To Do When Your Baby Is Overtired
- 3-Month-Old Activities Your Baby Will Love!
- The Best Toys For Babies 0-6 Months Old
- Feeding Essentials For Starting Solids
- How To Clean Baby Toys (The Right Way)
What are your favorite tummy time activities to do with your baby? I would love to know in the comments below!