Updated: Jun 11
Tummy time can be an excellent time for you and your loved ones to bond with your baby.
Try not to make tummy time a chore. If what you are doing isn't fun, here are some ideas to make it fun.
How to get your baby to like tummy time.
Even if your baby doesn't like tummy time, try these tips to ensure they still get this vital building block to help them along with their development. Babies start to enjoy tummy time more once they have more control. The key is to be patient. Every little one reaches different baby milestones at different times.
Here are a few ways to make tummy time more enjoyable:
Help your baby feel comfortable and secure.
Try to make tummy time as comfortable as possible.
Try a playmat or soft blanket if you have a hardwood floor. You can also put a rolled-up towel or blanket under your little one's chest for extra support.
Be sure your baby is fed, rested, and has a fresh diaper — all prerequisites for happy play!
Stay engaged with your baby.
Instead of walking away after setting them down, sit in front of them to smile and talk while they do their work.
You can sing their favorite song or read them a book. You're their cheerleader in life, including tummy time, and your encouragement can help them through this activity.
Whether they are on the floor or you, your interaction with them is always their favorite way to be engaged over any toy.
Toys and other safe items can go a long way in helping keep the baby engaged during tummy time.
Some tried-and-true favorites:
A baby-safe mirror
A black-and-white picture board
A musical toy
A colorful playmat
Some mats have prop-up toys or mirrors, and others are filled with water for more fun. Take your little one's socks off to provide more traction on the mat.
You can buy a tummy-time gym designed for babies to play with while on their belly. Some gyms have attached lights, mirrors, moving pictures, music, and squeaky toys.
Mix it up
You probably have one favorite spot on the living room rug you return to for tummy time.
But sometimes, changing the scenery can help – go outside, or give it a try while you're at the park or a friend's house. Let your baby know you're there by talking to them, tickling them, or stroking their hands.
Change locations — and the view from their tummy. Try the family room for a minute or two in the morning and your bedroom in the afternoon.
Before you pick your little one up at the sound of their first tummy time cry, wait it out for 30 seconds and try to comfort them in other ways.
Make sure they know you're close to them by talking or singing to them, rubbing their head or back, and maintaining skin-to-skin contact.
Break up the time
Babies only need to do one or two minutes of tummy time at a time to start, and they can work up to longer sessions as they get older.
Don't put an infant on the floor for half an hour right out of the gate. You can do two-minute sessions, then three minutes, then five.
They never need to go longer than 10 minutes, even when they're older.
Every minute on their tummies helps their strength, and you can do these sessions multiple times a day, so they all add up to 15 or more minutes per day.
> Related: My baby hates Tummy Time (Ultimate Guide)
20 Tummy Time Activities to Try with Your Baby
You can help your baby practice spending time on their tummy in many different ways. Giving your child the opportunity to rotate their position and remove pressure from the back of their head will protect a flat spot from developing and support their upper body muscle development.
Tummy time doesn't have to always mean lying down. Changing positions, scenery and activities are essential to keeping the little one engaged and interested. Try to get both parents involved to make the baby comfortable with each parent. Here are some infant tummy time activities to get you started!
Age: From birth
It may not seem like it, but having your baby lie on their belly on your chest counts as tummy time. Your little one will enjoy looking at your face and hearing your voice.
(!) Never let your baby sleep on their belly, even for a short nap. Your child should always be awake for tummy time.
If your little one falls asleep during tummy time, gently roll them onto the safest sleeping position for babies - their back. Remember, "Back to sleep, tummy to play."
Age: Any age
Lie your baby across your lap with one knee higher than the other, supporting the baby's chest, with one hand on the baby's back to let them know you're there. Gently rub the baby's back to soothe them during tummy time.
You can even use baby oil or natural lotion to improve your tummy time!
3. The Diaper Change Massage
Age: Any age
Flip your baby over for a few minutes after a diaper change but keep your hand on them to avoid falls. If they're fussy, give them a massage to distract them.
4. The Burp
Age: Any age
Instead of burping your little one over your shoulder, try laying them down across your knees (make sure to support their head and neck). Many babies love it because the pressure helps them with gas, and they're close to you.
5. Hold Your Baby Upright More
Age: Any age
Tummy time isn't the only way for babies to strengthen their neck and shoulder muscles! Any position that puts them somewhat upright will help.
Whether you switch from a cradle hold to an upright hold or let them rest on you while you've reclined slightly back, the angle will give your baby just as much opportunity to practice.
6. Get a good playmat
Instead of placing your baby on a thin blanket on the floor or directly on the carpet, give them an interesting and interactive playmat to lie on.
Many have bright colors and flaps to grab, or different textures or noises to keep their interest.
A mat is also a comfortable surface that makes the hard floor more tolerable. If the mat doesn't have an unbreakable mirror surface on it, you can buy one separately to set up in front of their face, so they are looking at their reflection.
Place baby on an inflatable water mat. It's full of colors and textures for them to discover.
Use a crinkly blanket one day, a fluffy one the next, and look for baby mats with many different sensory sensations.
7. Join baby on the floor
Age: Any age
Babies love to look at faces, especially yours! During tummy time, lay down face to face with your little one, so they have to look up to see your face.
You can help distract them by singing silly songs, making funny faces, or playing peek-a-boo. Having older children help out also works well.
Or you could grab a yoga mat yourself and exercise. Your little one might enjoy watching you do yoga or crunches.
8. Sing a Song
Age: Any age
Lie in front of your little one and sing nursery rhymes or lullabies.
Entertaining your baby when they are on their tummy is something that never fails to keep them happy for at least a few minutes. A few minutes here and there is better than nothing!
9. Visual Stimulation
Age: Any age
Finding fun visual stimulation can help make tummy time easier while promoting visual development.
Get black and white toys or toys with a lot of contrast to capture your little one's attention. Another great attention grabber is placing a mirror in front of your child while they're on their belly.
Important: No electronic devices.
10. Try tummy time on the bed
Age: Any age (with supervision, especially after 4 months).
Sometimes a baby is just not comfy on the floor. You can try practicing tummy time on a bed instead as long as the baby is awake and supervised.
You'll need to watch the baby more carefully with a squishier and higher surface.
With younger kids, avoid fluffy comforters, etc. should be just on a bed with a sheet.
11. Walking While Holding Baby
Age: Starting around 2 months
Hold your baby face down lying across your arm. Try taking a slow walk around the house and giving them different things to look at.
This is an excellent option for a baby who really hates tummy time because the moving motion usually calms them down.
Bonus, it will work our arm muscles! Just make sure to switch arms 😉
12. Experiment with side-lying
Age: 2 months and up
If the baby isn't feeling this inverted worldview at first, try side-lying. This is an excellent alternative to tummy time and can have similar benefits.
Place your little one on their side and use a blanket or rolled-up towel to support their side. Both hands should be in front of them, with their legs forward and knees slightly bent.
Use a toy to catch your baby's attention and encourage them to turn their head.
13. Practice tummy time with a rolled-up blanket or a pillow
Age: 3 months
If you're using a blanket, start small and increase the size of the roll as the baby gets more comfortable spending time on their stomach.
You can also use a boppy pillow. Having them on the boppy makes it easier for them to keep their head up and look around.
You can try a breastfeeding pillow. Place the pillow on the floor on top of a blanket, then place the baby on their stomach over the pillow, with their arms and shoulders propped on top.
14. After bath
Age: 3 months
Every other bath, towel dry your baby on their belly instead of their back.
15. Set Up a Mirror
Age: 3 months and up
Babies like to look at themselves. Baby-safe mirrors are a great way to keep babies happy during tummy time! In fact, you can find non-breakable mirrors made for tummy time that you can put on the floor in front of your baby at their eye level.
While your little one won't understand that they're looking at their reflection, seeing something else that moves can catch their attention. They'll get super excited to have another baby hanging out on the floor with them. Shiny reflective toys also do the trick.
This option can work better for babies with neck strength to look up already.
16. Give them toys to reach for
Age: 3 months and up
When your baby is a few months old, they'll be able to track objects with their eyes and show interest in grasping at objects near them.
Putting a toy in front of them when you put them on their stomach will distract them from the fact their muscles are working hard because they'll be so interested in what's in front of them.
After a few months, they will start to use their feet to try to push themselves towards the toy as a precursor to crawling.
Use toys that have high-contrast colors on them, like black and white, to maximize your baby's interest.
You can also hold and shake a toy in front of them to use the movement or sounds like a crinkly texture or a rattle to encourage them to look at the toy as they balance on their tummy.
17. Super Baby
Age: Starting at 3 to 4 months
Hold your baby in a prone position over your forearm with their legs on either side of your elbow and your hand supporting their chest.
You can fly them around the house to check themselves out in the mirror, look out windows, or say hi to other people.
This is a position where you control the angle you are holding your baby. If they have difficulty keeping their head up, elevate your hand slightly higher than your elbow so they can lift more readily.
18. Roll In, Roll Out
Age: 4 months
Instead of just placing your baby directly onto their stomach to start tummy time, consider rolling them from their back to their belly.
The motion can provide a distraction and a simple transition—plus, your baby will likely find it fun to roll around a bit.
For babies that don't have a very long tolerance for how long they're face down, you can gently roll them to their back for a short break, then back again onto their stomach. Still, every little bit of tummy time counts!
Age: 4 months
Once your baby has enough control of their head – at around 4 months – you can play airplane. The airplane game starts your baby on their stomach, after which you lift them into the air.
So long as you move slowly and carefully, this can make a fun time for your little one—especially if you add fun sounds for good measure.
To keep the best hold on your baby, keep one hand under their stomach and another under their chest as you lift them. They'll probably love the new view.
20. Play Peek-a-boo
Age: Starting at 6 months
Playing Peek-a-boo is another way to entertain your baby during tummy time. This works best for babies who aren't newborns but don't crawl yet.
Try to use a colorful scarf instead of your hands, receiving blanket, or a dish towel.
Tune in to your baby
If you've tried everything, and your baby still doesn't like being on her tummy, try to figure out if there's something else about it that your baby finds distressing.
Maybe the blanket underneath them gets too scrunched for comfort. Perhaps it's too cold on the floor, or they want you to come down to their level. You can also try to play their favorite music to see if that helps.
By watching your baby, you might also be able to eliminate certain things that upset them. Maybe their slippery socks get in the way, or the floor's too cold.
It also may be helpful to check in with one of our pediatric osteopaths who can assess for tension or strain in your baby's neck and prescribe some play-based exercises to help.
Remember, if your little one hates tummy time, you are not alone! This is very common, but hopefully, these tummy time tips and tricks will make things go smoothly during tummy time.
It is also important to remember you are not obligated to do 30 minutes of tummy time a day all at once. Begin with 2-3 minutes at a time until your baby's endurance builds. Then you can slowly increase the time.
Suppose you still have a hard time with tummy time and feel like you need some extra support. In that case, we always recommend contacting an occupational or physical therapist to get a customized plan to promote motor development.
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Please note: We rely on credible sources to create our content: health organizations, doctors, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. The Pathfinder Health blog and its information are not intended and do not constitute medical advice or diagnosis and should not be used. You should always consult a qualified physician or health professional about your circumstances.