10 Ways to Make Tummy Time Fun

a baby having tummy time

You probably know tummy time is important, but try telling your baby that! Just because it strengthens his chest, arms, and core muscles; prepares him for sitting and crawling; and helps prevent flat head syndrome doesn’t mean he likes it. But you can help make tummy time more fun for baby (and mama) with these helpful tips and tricks.

Be There

a baby having tummy time

You don’t just plop baby on her belly and watch from a distance. Get down on the floor, make eye contact, sing, make funny faces and noises, and generally encourage her. Just like you might need a workout buddy, she’s working hard and needs you there to help her rally.

Don’t Push It

a baby having tummy time

Tummy time is essential, but it’s not a marathon. In the beginning, if baby can only handle 15 seconds of tummy time before crying, then that’s what she can do. You want to strike the gentle balance between supporting her and encouraging her to shift past her comfort zone (which, let’s face it, would probably be no tummy time). So scoop her up when she starts to seem distressed and try again later when she’s better rested and fed.

Create a Book Wall

a baby having tummy time

In lieu of your smiling face, baby might like to look at the pretty, vibrant covers of her favorite books while she does her TT. Set them up in front of her like a little wall to watch (think of yourself reading a magazine on the treadmill). It’ll likely both distract and excite her.

Be the Floor

a mom playing with her baby

If tummy time is on your belly or chest or across your lap, it counts! Baby still has to lift her head and use the same muscles as she does on the floor, but gets to do it on her favorite person. (Or people, if your partner joins in.) Just make sure you’re somewhere with lots of surface area around you, like the bed, so baby can’t roll off and get hurt. You can also carry her so she’s on her tummy, facing the floor. She won’t get all the benefits, but some!

Lay Out the Toys

a baby having tummy time

As your baby gets more tolerant of tummy time, he’ll want stuff to do while he’s there. Set some favorite toys around him—if they squeak or crinkle or rattle, all the better. When he’s comfortable playing with them, then place one just out of reach. He’ll start trying to figure out how to get himself closer, thus, distracting him from tummy time (and possibly getting frustrated, so watch for that and scoop him up as needed).

Have a Ball

a mom playing with her baby on a gym ball

Some babes like the feeling of a yoga ball under their belly. Slightly deflate a big ball and gently roll baby’s tummy over it. He’ll probably have a cool “I’m flying!” experience in this stealth TT position.

Give a Boost

a baby having tummy time

Some tummy time-resistant kiddos respond well to a small towel rolled up under their chest. It gives them the extra support they need to feel like they’re really being boosted, and therefore they’ll be (in theory) less frustrated.

Get Thee an Activity Gym

Skip Hop Baby Infant and Toddler Treetop Friends Activity Gym and Playmat

Though a blanket will do, tummy time will become about a thousand times more fun in an activity “gym.” No ellipticals here, but dangling toys, a floor-based mirror, and a fun pattered mat all help baby feel like this whole tummy time thing is actually enjoyable. We especially like Skip Hop’s gyms for their soft colors and the fact that they’re not treated with non-flammable chemicals.

Available at Amazon

Tummy Time Prep

a baby having tummy time

Make sure before tummy time that baby is well-fed, well-burped, and well-rested. A cranky, tired, hungry babe will not have his mood enhanced by doing hard exercise. If your sweetie is a big spitter-upper, wait a little after feeding, or you’ll end up with quite a mess.

Do It A Lota baby having tummy time

Physical therapists recommend that babies do 30 to 90 minutes of cumulative tummy time a day! Seems like a lot, but you can work it in by getting tummy time into regular routines—do a little before or after a diaper change; every time you set baby down, place him tummy first; do a lot of your play time while he’s belly-down. Though you might not hit that number, the more you strive toward it, the stronger baby will be—and chances are the more it’ll feel natural and comfortable for him and you too.

I’m a married mom of two living in Seattle, WA. I have a eight-year-old little boy, a second grader! He’s a fairly reserved kid and all about Legos and Minecraft. I also have a little girl who turned four at the end of February. She’s a tiny thing but a big ham; we call her our clown. They’re a lot of work but also a ton of fun. I love to eat, cook, and run (in that order). But at the end of the day, give me a spot on the couch and a little bit of TV or a good book, I’m done!