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Baby Play Tummy Time

Tummy Time

You can start to give your baby tummy time during the early weeks and it can be done regularly throughout the day.

Tummy time is an important way to help strengthen your baby's neck muscles and protect the shape of their head. Newborn tummy time can be started safely from birth and can be done regularly throughout the day. 

What is tummy time?

Tummy time involves placing your baby on their stomach while they are awake and supervised. One of the main benefits of tummy time is to help strengthen the baby's neck, shoulder, and core muscles. These muscles are needed for when your baby starts to roll over, crawl, and eventually, walk.

Regular tummy time sessions also help prevent flat spots on the back of the baby's head. This condition is known as positional plagiocephaly and has become more prevalent because of safe sleep recommendations that babies sleep on their backs.

Australian guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of tummy time over the course of the day. It is safe to do newborn tummy time -  start with one or two minutes at a time and build it up slowly.  

Ways to encourage tummy time

There are many ways you can incorporate tummy time into your baby's day. Some babies don’t like to be on their tummy and will protest. Talk to them to reassure them, especially if this is the first few times on their tummy. Remember to stay with your baby when they're doing tummy time.
  • 1

    Start by laying your baby on your chest while lying down (remember not to fall asleep). You can place a rolled towel under their chest to help.

  • 2

    Place your baby on their tummy on a rug on the floor.

  • 3

    Place a small brightly coloured toy in front of your baby about a hand span away so they can see it.

  • 4

    It can help for you to also get down to floor level. Your baby will be reassured if they can see your face.

  • 5

    Read a book to your baby while in tummy time or show them a non-breakable mirror so they can look at themselves. 

  • 6

    Use a play mat with dangling toys for them to look at. 

  • 7

    Do tummy time in different places around the house or outdoors so your baby is distracted by new environments. 

Baby tummy time safety

Whenever you place your baby on the floor, make sure you check for any dangers. The best way to do this is to get down on the floor and see what might attract your baby’s attention and be dangerous. This is especially important once they start to move and explore. At around 7–9 months their pincer grip will start to develop and they are able to easily pick up very small items from the floor.

Other things to ensure their safety include:

  • Make sure any pets are not in the room when your baby is on the floor.
  • Bookcases and television are anchored to the wall.
  • Tablecloths are not within reach.
  • Remove any cords or heavy objects that can fall on them, e.g. an iron on an ironing board.
  • Precious ornaments are out of reach.
  • Stairs, heaters and fans are not accessible
  • Blind cords are secured and out of reach.
  • Supervise them at all times.