What is Tummy Time and Why is it Important?

As a new parent, there are a few words that you will find yourself saying more than you’d like:

  • Latch
  • Nipple
  • Poop
  • Milestones
  • Tummy time

For some babies, tummy time is a pleasant experience where they get to explore and work on their coordination, but for a lot of families, tummy time is the most dreaded time of the day. While some little ones enjoy being on their belly, others will scream and cry until they are picked up. But why? Well, let’s explore some of the reasons that tummy time may be a challenge in your household, and what you can do to make it easier.

But first, what is tummy time and why is it so important?

When your little one is born, the muscles in their neck and trunk are weak and underdeveloped, which is why newborns require us to support their heads for the first few months of life. “Tummy time”, a term certain to be heard at many appointments in the first year of your child’s life, is an exercise that allows your little one to work on strengthening those muscles as they grow.

Help! My baby hates tummy time! What do I do?

Tummy time is a workout for babies, and not all little ones enjoy it. Sometimes, they simply are not interested in doing it, while other times there may be underlying reasons, such as reflux, as to why your infant doesn’t tolerate tummy time. Medical reasons aside, if your baby simply dislikes tummy time because they are not interested, rest assured that there are plenty of ways to help engage your child during tummy time, and even a few alternatives to this exercise. Let’s dive in!

How to make tummy time FUN!

Join them Nothing makes tummy time better than having your favourite person join you! By laying down and facing your little one, not only are you distracting them and making them feel less lonely, but their desire to make eye contact with you is likely to motivate them enough to lift their head nice and high in order to see you.


Another great way to use your baby’s innate curiosity to motivate and distract them is by placing a mirror in front of them while they are on their belly. Often times, babies older than 5-6 months are able to recognize their own reflection and might even reach for it, or interact with it.

Just add water

A fun and simple way to engage your child is by putting water in a baking pan or shallow container. This alone might be enough to entertain them during their tummy time, but if they seem uninterested, you can either add floating toys to the container, or you can try a water mat like the one below;

Sensory Fun

Introducing sensory play into tummy time is an excellent way to have your child experience new textures and colours. This one is very easy to set up (bonus!). Take a few freezer storage bags and fill each bag with a variety of textured or colourful items. Seal the bags, and tape all four sides to the floor in order to keep it secure. Place your little one on their belly, facing the sensory bag, and let them explore!

Here are a few ideas for what to place in the bags;

  • Rice grains
  • Colourful pompons
  • Popcorn kernels
  • Toothpaste
  • Shaving cream
  • Cotton balls

Tummy time alternatives

Sometimes, all it takes to make tummy time easier on our little ones is to use some alternative approaches. These include propping your baby up on a breast-feeding pillow, on the Daytot Joey, or Daytot Neo+, as these help support your baby thus making tummy time a bit easier.

Other times, you may need to ditch the floor completely and attempt to do these exercises elsewhere. An easy way of doing this without having to purchase anything to help you is by placing your baby on your chest, allowing them to use their muscles to lift their head up in order to look at you. To help motivate them, sing their favourite song, make silly noises, or call their name. Another great trick is to place your child on an exercise ball, allowing them to do their exercises while you hold them and move them back and forth, or side to side on the ball.

Important tips

  • Tummy time should last no longer than 3-5 minutes at first, repeating the process of your choice 2-3 times as day. As your baby gets stronger, try working them up to 20 minutes, or for as long as they will tolerate it.
  • Never leave your little one unattended while they are still learning to do tummy time.
  • Make tummy time fun! Be creative, try new things, and don’t give up!

At the end of the day, being a new parents is hard! Thankfully, the World Wide Web is filled with creative ways to make some of these challenges easier on you, and on your little one. More importantly, it is filled with other parents who know and understand many of your challenges. Be easy on yourself, and acknowledge that some days, neither of you have the energy to tackle tummy time and remember that tomorrow is a new day!