Tummy time is an important activity for all babies.
Because you should be putting your baby down to sleep on their back, not their front, tummy time helps give your baby time to develop their neck, back, and shoulder muscles as well as supporting their general physical development - including visual engagement, motor skills and sensory awareness.
It is recommended to start tummy time from day 1. As your baby grows, your aim should be to gradually increase the amount of time your baby spends on their tummy until they are able to roll and crawl.
How to do tummy time successfully
If you're starting tummy time from day 1 as recommended then there are a few things to bear in mind to make it an enjoyable experience for your baby.
How to start tummy time with small increments from a young age.
It's normal for babies to be a little resistant to tummy time at first. They wont be used to being on their tummy and it's a totally different sensation for them as well as a different vantage point. To make it more comfortable for them - and for you watching on - start with short bursts of tummy time and gradually increase the amount of time as they get more comfortable. Starting early means these increments can be really small when they're little and can easily be built up slowly
How to make tummy time fun so your baby is engaged for longer
To encourage your baby to enjoy tummy time, try to make it an interactive and engaging experience. Use toys and other objects to grab their attention and encourage them to lift their head and look around.
We designed the Heads Up tummy time play mat to help with this. Read more about how the heads up tummy time play mat could help your baby with tummy time.
How to create a comfortable space for your baby to do tummy time
It's important to make sure your baby is comfortable during tummy time. Use a soft, padded surface, such as a blanket or play mat, to provide a comfortable surface for them to lie on.
This will prevent your baby injuring themselves as they get tired and their head lowers to the ground. It will also give you confidence to let them be rather than fussing and intervening constantly. A soft inflatable water play mat can really take the stress out of tummy time!
How to supervise your baby to make sure they get the most out of tummy time
Always stay with your baby while they are doing tummy time, and be prepared to help them if they become upset or uncomfortable. Don't overdo it. If they get really upset just pause and try again at a later time or a different day (see below).
But supervising your baby doing tummy time is about more than making sure they are safe. You can use the time with them to make sure they are physically developing well and getting the most out of tummy time.
Why you should allow your baby to do tummy time at their own pace.
Tummy time is important, but if your baby becomes upset or distressed during tummy time, stop the activity and try again later. While all hard things are hard - and you can expect a bit of discomfort and upset as your baby learns to spend time on their tummy - you don't need to force it.
There's more to be gained from incrementally building up tummy time than being upset at your babies discomfort and trying to push through. This is where sensory play mats can make a big difference for your baby though. Even if the sensory play only keeps them engaged for a few seconds, it might just be enough day after day to build up their stamina.
Ways to make tummy time an enjoyable part of your baby's routine.
- Doing tummy time during nappy changes
- Make tummy time a part of playtime by placing toys within reach while they lay on a play mat.
- Singing, talking and helping distract your baby while doing tummy time
- Hold your baby over your shoulder or across your lap while on their front is also a great way to do tummy time, particularly for younger babies.
It's important to remember that every baby is different, and the amount of tummy time they need will vary. As a general rule, aim for at least 30 minutes of tummy time per day by the time your baby is 3 months.
If you do the maths on that, it means you have c.90 days to build up to your baby doing 30 minutes of tummy time in a day. That doesn't have to be all at once, that will be spread throughout the course of a day. If you start on day one with your baby doing 20 seconds of tummy time and keep adding 20 seconds of tummy time every day until they are 3 months you'll get there.
Tummy time is an important activity for babies as it helps them to develop their muscles and promotes their overall physical development. It's recommended to start tummy time with your baby as early as possible - but hopefully you've seen there are all sorts of ways to do this and ensure it's fun and comfortable for your baby.