Newborn Tummy Time: When To Start Tummy Time With Your Baby

Photo By:  @ari_says

You’ve probably heard that tummy time is a must for your baby’s development but may not be sure exactly how to make it happen. This essential activity helps strengthen babies physically and is crucial for helping build their motor skills.

Tummy time for newborns also fosters cognitive development by providing a different perspective on their environment. Initiating this practice early on can benefit your little one’s overall growth and physical agility.

So when do you start tummy time? How do you do it? What are the right tummy time positions for newborns?

If you’re not sure how to do tummy time, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for tips on how to master tummy time for newborns.

What Is Tummy Time?

Newborn tummy time just means laying your baby down on their belly so they can play and develop their muscles. Beginning during their very first weeks, incorporating it into your baby's daily routine can promote healthier physical and cognitive development. 

Tummy time for newborns allows for the following:

  • Stimulates your baby’s senses.
  • Encourages curiosity.
  • Helps sharpen visual and spatial awareness.

By placing toys within reach during newborn tummy time, you also foster hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. This makes it a multifaceted activity for your baby’s growth and development.

The Benefits of Tummy Time

This seemingly simple act is vital to your baby’s development.It helps your baby gain the strength to support their own head, encourages the skills they need to crawl, and primes them for other important developmental milestones.

But tummy time has many other important benefits, too. Because newborn babies spend so much time on their back, they’re prone to developing flat spots on the back of their head. Tummy time can help avoid these spots from forming by changing your baby’s position and taking pressure off the back of their head. 

Newborn tummy time can also encourage healthy sleeping habits. It can even help with the four-month sleep regression that many new parents struggle with.

By laying a strong foundation early on, tummy time for newborns is instrumental in preventing developmental delays. It also ensures that your baby reaches typical growth milestones in a timely manner. 

Additionally, tummy time for newborns is a splendid opportunity for bonding. It allows you to interact closely with your baby and encourage their development through gentle play and communication.

When to Start Tummy Time

Babies need tummy time to prevent flat spots on the back of their head, strengthen their neck and shoulder muscles so they can eventually sit up, crawl, and walk, and improve their motor skills.

So, when do you start tummy time? And at what age do you start tummy time? 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s never too early to start tummy time for newborns. Beginning on your baby’s first day home from the hospital, you should play and interact with your baby while they are awake and on their tummy two to three times each day for about 3-5 minutes.

Initially, tummy time newborn sessions can be short and last only a few minutes. Going slow like this can accommodate your newborn’s developing strength. 

As they grow and become more accustomed to the activity, gradually increasing the duration helps them build endurance and muscle capacity. This progression of tummy time for newborns is vital as each phase helps prepare them for the next stages of physical activities like crawling and walking.

How Long Should Tummy Time for Newborns Last?

As your baby grows older, they’ll need more time on their tummies to build strength. Eventually, you should aim for 15 to 30 minutes of newborn tummy time spread throughout the day.

Why this amount? 

A duration of 15 to 30 minutes is significant enough to provide substantial physical benefits while encouraging proper posture and muscular development. It also provides sufficient time for sensory stimulation, which is crucial for your baby's cognitive development.

Want to get ready for newborn tummy time? All you need is a cushioned surface, such as a soft blanket on a rug or the mattress from their Breeze® Playard, and a few high-contrast toys.

The firm, flat surface of a playard mattress is perfect for supporting your baby's physical activities safely. Additionally, using the playard allows you to keep tummy time newborn accessories organized and within reach.

How to do Tummy Time

Getting started with newborn tummy time might seem intimidating, but if you break it down into manageable steps it’s much less overwhelming. We’ve got a few tips on how to do tummy time for newborns in a fun and effective way:

  • Start by setting up a soft surface—like a quilt placed on a rug, a playmat, or the mattress from your baby’s playard—in a clear area. If you have pets, put them in another room so they don’t jump on your baby.
  • Tummy time positions for newborns are a little different than an older baby’s needs. Place your newborn on their tummy and tuck their arms under them. To avoid face plants, gently turn your newborn’s head to the side so they don’t smack their face into the floor if they lose control. You may need to keep repositioning your newborn’s head throughout tummy time to keep it turned.
  • Once your baby is old enough to lift their head, you can just lay them down on their belly with their arms free and let them play.
  • Place age-appropriate, high-contrast toys or an unbreakable mirror within your baby’s reach to encourage them to move their head to look at the toys (or at the super cute baby in the reflection).
  • Lie down in front of them at eye level to engage their attention. Talk, sing, or make funny faces to encourage your baby to lift their head and look around.
  • For a different angle, place a nursing pillow under your baby's chest and arms during newborn tummy time. This slight elevation can help babies who struggle with flat surfaces or have mild reflux.
  • The best time to do tummy time for newborns is when your baby is calm and happy, like right after a diaper change or after your baby wakes up from a nap.

Additional Newborn Tummy Time Tips

If you’re not ready to place your newborn on the floor or if you’ve had a C-section that makes getting up and down off the floor challenging, there are a few good tummy time newborn positions that don’t require the floor:

  • Lay your baby on your chest for 1-2 minutes at a time and speak or sing softly to encourage them to lift their head to look at you.
  • Place your baby on your lap and rub their back. Try speaking softly or holding small toys just beyond their face to get their attention and encourage them to lift their head. 

Take Time for Newborn Tummy Time

Newborn tummy time helps your baby develop the muscles they'll need to eventually roll over, sit up, crawl, and walk. With that in mind, it’s no wonder why it’s important to make room for tummy time every day.

One smart way to make tummy time for newborns easier on you and your baby is to again use the mattress from your Breeze® Plus or Breeze® Go playard. It can provide a comfortable, cushioned spot for your baby to practice tummy time and play every day. 

The mattress is easy to remove from either playard and place on the floor, and it’s soft enough to protect your baby’s head if they hit the floor but firm enough to be safe. Shop for 4moms playards here.