Pediatricians and child development experts agree: tummy time is important for your baby to build the muscles and coordination needed for major motor skills like sitting, crawling, and walking. 

In the early weeks of life, you can start placing your newborn on their belly – their reflexes can make tummy time feel very natural and babies who practice tummy time early often tend to enjoy it more later on. Tummy time on your body (on chest, lap) is a natural way to engage your baby for co-regulation and comfort. 

How long your baby spends in tummy time each day depends on their age, how often they’re awake, how comfortable they are on their bellies, their temperament and the day’s events. For newborns, tummy time may be just a few minutes, spread across several sessions in a day. It may not seem like much, but that’s a long time for your new baby.

Once your baby is one month old or older, you can consider offering short sessions during each awake window during the day. Each session can consist of several repetitions of rolling baby into tummy time and rolling them out for brief breaks and then rolling back in for another few seconds or minutes. Pay attention to your baby’s cues – fussing, hunger or sleepy signs – and be responsive by offering breaks and ending the session before your baby gets upset. 

It’s important to focus on frequent comfortable tummy time more than hitting a certain amount of time each day. Don’t force tummy time if your baby is unhappy. Take a break, soothe them, then try again. Keep attempting short sessions throughout the day—you might be surprised how quickly they add up.

Remember, tummy time is a position for play, not an activity itself. You have to add something to tummy time to keep your baby engaged.

Lovevery’s newborn Play Kits include several playthings designed by child development experts for babies to explore belly-down, including black-and-white objects, bells, rattles, and high-contrast pictures.

Try these 4 strategies from Lovevery experts to help your baby get more comfortable with tummy time: 

  • Use an arm hold. Hold your baby’s belly down in your arms, with the bulk of their head and abdomen resting on your forearm. You can walk around or stand in front of a mirror while holding your baby in the arm hold and talking or singing to them. Feel free to gently sway or bounce, too, while noticing your baby’s cues about whether they like this movement. 
  • Place your baby on an incline. Raising your baby’s shoulders higher than their hips makes tummy time easier, which may be just what they need as they’re building strength and getting used to tummy time. Try positioning your baby on a nursing pillow, a folded blanket or towel, or a firm throw pillow. 
  • Try a location besides the floor. Some babies prefer tummy time on a table or an exercise ball where they can get a different view of the room.
  • Give your baby something really interesting to look at. Some ideas include: your face, a shiny mixing bowl, you pouring water into a shallow container, complex black-and-white images, and a favourite book or toy.

Most importantly, focus on the brief period that your baby is content in tummy time. When they get upset, roll them out of tummy time and soothe them. The key for babies who don’t sustain long periods on their tummy is increasing the frequency. Offer your baby lots of short rounds on their tummy whenever they’re awake and it’s practical.