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. When do you start tummy time?  How do you do it? What are the right tummy time positions for newborns?

Tummy time just means laying your baby down on their belly so they can play and develop their muscles. But 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. 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. It can also encourage healthy sleeping habits and can even help with the four-month sleep regression that many new parents struggle with.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends you start doing tummy time as soon as you bring your baby home. If you’re not sure how to do tummy time, read on for tips on how to master tummy time for newborns.

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 ageAccording to the AAP 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.

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

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.

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:

  • 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).
  • The best time to do tummy time is when your baby is calm and happy, like right after a diaper change or after your baby wakes up from a nap.

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 positions for newborns that don’t require floor time:

  • 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 Tummy Time

Tummy time helps your baby develop the muscles they'll need to eventually roll over, sit up, crawl, and walk, so it’s important to make time for tummy time every day

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