Best Newborn Tummy Time Positions: 7 Key Questions Answered

Did you know that placing your newborn in different tummy time positions can significantly impact their physical and cognitive growth? It’s not just about strengthening their muscles; it’s about opening a world of sensory experiences and developmental milestones!

Imagine your little one reaching each developmental stage with ease and joy. From lifting their tiny head to rolling over and eventually crawling, each position in tummy time plays a crucial role.

These moments are adorable and building blocks for your baby’s future.

Ready to learn more and enhance your baby’s tummy time experience?

I was hoping you could spend a few minutes with me as we dive into everything you need to know about tummy time for newborns!

1. What Is Tummy Time, And Why Is It Important?

Tummy time for newborns is a simple yet crucial practice and holds a special place in your baby’s early development. 

At its core, tummy time involves placing your baby on their stomach while they are awake and under your watchful eye. This practice is much more than a daily routine; it’s foundational for your baby’s physical growth.

Engaging in tummy time, you’re helping strengthen your baby’s neck, shoulder, and back muscles. These are not just muscles; they are the pillars that will support your baby as they master rolling over, sitting up, and eventually, taking their first steps.


But the benefits extend beyond just physical development. It is vital in preventing flat spots on your baby’s head, a condition known as positional plagiocephaly. By alternating their resting positions through regular tummy time, you can help maintain the natural shape of your baby’s head.

The first exercises your baby will engage in are during tummy time, building the essential muscles needed for future physical activities. This isn’t just about muscle development; it’s about laying the groundwork for your baby’s coordination and balance.

And as they lift their head and explore their surroundings, they’re not just moving muscles but stimulating their brain and fostering early problem-solving skills.

From a sensory development perspective, tummy time offers your newborn a fresh worldview, encouraging sensory exploration and interactive experiences with their environment. It’s a window to a world beyond the cradle, with colors, sounds, and textures to discover.


On a personal note, while working at a pediatrician’s office, I encountered a newborn with torticollis. In this condition, the baby’s head is fixed in one direction due to neck stiffness. This was a direct result of not practicing tummy time, a fact the mother was sadly unaware of.

Regular tummy sessions can prevent such conditions by ensuring the neck muscles are evenly stretched and strengthened.

Moreover, tummy time is an excellent opportunity for social and emotional bonding. It allows you, as parents, to get down to your baby’s level and interact closely, fostering early communication and social skills in a face-to-face, heart-to-heart manner.

2. When Should You Start Tummy Time With Your Newborn?

Deciding when to start tummy time with your newborn is a pivotal step in their developmental journey.  Let’s explore this crucial phase in an easy-to-digest format, emphasizing the importance of timing and approach in fostering your baby’s growth.

Starting Early – From Day One:

  • When you bring your newborn home from the hospital, begin tummy time. Starting early sets the stage for a healthy routine and helps your baby get accustomed to the activity.

Frequency Matters:

  • Start with short, frequent sessions. In the early days, a minute or two, several times a day, is sufficient. Consistent practice is more beneficial than sporadic, longer sessions.

Timing Around Baby’s Schedule:

  • Tummy time is best after your baby wakes up. They’re more likely to be alert and responsive. Wait a bit after feeding to avoid discomfort or spit-ups.

Watch for Baby’s Readiness:

  • Choose when your baby is awake and engage when your baby seems curious about the world around them.

Increase Duration Gradually:

  • As your baby grows more potent, gradually increase the duration of tummy time. Work towards more extended periods while ensuring your baby is comfortable and enjoying the process.

Respond to Baby’s Cues:

  • If your baby seems distressed or overly fussy, it’s okay to pick them up and try again later. Celebrate their efforts with smiles and encouragement to create a positive association with tummy time.

Adapting to Baby’s Development:

  • Introduce new challenges like different positions or engaging toys as your baby advances. Pay attention to how your baby responds and progresses in time on their tummy.

Incorporate into Daily Routine:

  • Make tummy time a natural part of your baby’s daily activities. Encourage siblings and other family members to participate, making it a fun bonding experience.

3. How Often Should Tummy Time Occur?

Understanding the importance of tummy time in a newborn’s life is not just about doing it; it’s about how often and how to do it well. 

Start Small and Build Up:

  • Begin with short sessions, about 1-2 minutes at a time, several times daily.
  • Short, frequent sessions are less overwhelming for your baby and more straightforward to incorporate into your daily routine.

Daily Practice is Key:

  • Aim for a tummy time of 20-30 minutes daily, spreading it throughout the day.
  • Regularity helps your baby get used to tummy time, making it a regular part of their daily activities.

Gradually Increase Duration:

  • As your baby grows and becomes more comfortable, gradually increase the duration of each tummy time session.
  • Some babies may enjoy longer sessions earlier, while others may take more time to adjust.

Watch for Baby’s Readiness and Response:

  • Choose times when your baby is alert, awake, and interested in their environment.
  • If your baby becomes fussy or seems tired, it’s time to take a break and try again later.

Balance with Other Activities:

  • Integrate tummy time with other daily activities like after naps or diaper changes.
  • Ensure tummy time is part of a balanced routine that includes rest, play, and feeding.

Quality Over Quantity:

  • Focus on exciting and enjoyable tummy time rather than strictly timing each session.
  • Use this time to bond with your baby, using toys, songs, and stories to make it fun.

Incorporating Variety:

  • Experiment with different tummy time positions to keep it interesting for your baby.
  • Change the location of tummy time to provide new surroundings and stimuli.

Keep Track of Progress:

  • Pay attention to how your baby gets stronger through tummy time. Look for improvements in head lifting, rolling, and interest in surroundings.
  • Adjust the frequency and duration based on your baby’s development and enjoyment.

4. Why Do Most Babies Dislike Tummy Time?

Understanding why many babies are an aversion to tummy time is critical to support your newborn’s development.

For most newborns, the experience of lying on their tummy is entirely new and unfamiliar. They’re accustomed to the comfort of lying on their backs, so this new position can naturally lead to discomfort or insecurity, often manifesting as resistance.


It’s a classic case of venturing into uncharted territory, and like all new adventures, it takes time to adapt.

The physical aspect can’t be overlooked. It’s an exercise that requires babies to engage muscles they’re still developing. Consider this: a baby’s head is quite heavy about its body, making lifting it a significant challenge.

It’s like a mini workout session for them, and as with any workout, it requires effort, perseverance, and gradual strength building.

Another aspect to consider is babies’ frustration due to their limited mobility during tummy time. They’re in a phase where controlling their movements is a skill still in the works.

This limited ability to change positions independently can be somewhat frustrating. It’s a learning curve where they gradually discover how to interact and enjoy their surroundings from this new vantage point.

Then there’s the sensory component. Tummy time introduces babies to new sights, sounds, and sensations. For some, this sensory cocktail can be a bit overwhelming at first. Just as adults need time to adjust to new environments, babies need their period to acclimate to these fresh sensory experiences.


Let’s talk about the visual aspect. When babies are on their tummy, their field of view is different and more limited than when on their back. This might lead to feelings of boredom or frustration. Babies thrive on face-to-face interactions and visual stimuli, which are somewhat restricted in this position.

Introducing tummy time into a baby’s routine is, in itself, a change. It alters their established patterns of sleep, feeding, and play. Accepting this new activity as a regular part of their day doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual process that requires patience and encouragement.

Every baby, like every individual, has personal preferences and comfort zones. While some might naturally enjoy tummy time, others may require more encouragement and a slow, steady introduction to feel comfortable.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that babies are incredibly perceptive and can pick up on their parents’ emotions. Any anxiety or hesitation you might have about tummy time can be sensed by your baby, affecting their attitude towards it.

Maintaining a calm, positive approach can significantly influence your baby’s receptiveness to tummy time.

5. What Are The Different Newborn Tummy Time Positions?

Making tummy time enjoyable ensures your baby benefits from this essential activity.  

Let’s dive into the various positions to try to do tummy time.

On a Parent’s Chest:

  • Lay back and place your baby on your chest. This position allows for eye contact, bonding, and a sense of security for your baby. It’s excellent for emotional bonding and soothing for babies who initially resist tummy time on the floor.

On a Parent’s Lap:

  • Sit with your legs extended or comfortably, and place your baby across your lap. This position changes scenery and can be a gentler introduction to tummy time. It’s also convenient for times when you’re sitting down.

On the Bed:

  • Place your baby on their tummy on a firm bed. Ensure you are supervising closely to prevent any risk of falling. A bed provides a soft yet firm surface that comforts babies. It’s a great alternative if the floor feels too hard or cold.

On the Floor:

  • Use a clean, flat mat or blanket on the floor. Get down to your baby’s level to interact with them. This position is excellent for building physical strength as it provides the most resistance. It’s ideal for extended sessions as your baby gets used to tummy time.

6. How To Make Tummy Time Fun?

Interactive Toys and Books:

  • Place colorful toys and books within your baby’s reach to encourage them to lift their head and reach out.

Mirror Magic:

  • Babies love looking at faces, including their own. A baby-safe mirror on the floor and placed in front of your baby can add an element of discovery and enjoyment.

Sing and Chat:

  • Talking, singing, and making funny faces can turn tummy time with a newborn into a joyful, interactive session.

Family Involvement:

  • Encourage siblings to get down on the floor and interact with the baby during tummy time, making it a family activity.

Rotate Positions:

  • Changing between different positions keeps tummy time fresh and stimulating for your baby.

Follow Baby’s Lead:

  • Pay attention to what your baby enjoys and adjust your approach accordingly. Some babies might prefer certain positions over others.

Create a Routine:

  • Incorporating tummy time into a daily routine can help your baby anticipate and eventually look forward to it.

Stay Patient and Positive:

  • Your attitude towards tummy time can significantly influence your baby’s experience. Keep it positive and fun!

See the related short video.

7. What Are The Tummy Time Milestones And Month-by-Month Goals?

Tracking your baby’s progress through milestones is a rewarding aspect of parenthood. It’s exciting to witness each new achievement as they develop. 

This guide will help you understand what to expect and celebrate at each stage of your baby’s tummy time journey.

Month 1 – Introduction and Acclimatization:

  • Initial Response: Babies start by getting used to being on their tummy. Most will struggle to lift their head and may only manage brief lifts.
  • Goal: Aim for a few minutes of tummy time spread throughout the day, gradually increasing as your baby gets more comfortable.

Month 2 – Building Strength:

  • Developing Control: Your baby will start to show more control, lifting their head slightly and turning it from side to side.
  • Goal: Encourage your baby to spend more time during each session, aiming for cumulative totals of around 30 minutes a day.

Month 3 – Enhanced Engagement:

  • Increased Strength: By now, your baby can lift their head at a 45-degree angle and may start pushing up with their arms.
  • Goal: Focus on engaging and interactive tummy time sessions, using toys and activities to encourage movement.

Month 4 – Exploring Movement:

  • Gaining Mobility: Your baby will start to push up on their elbows, lifting their chest off the ground.
  • Goal: Encourage more extended periods of tummy time, introducing more dynamic and stimulating activities.

Month 5 – Advanced Skills:

  • Exploring Reach: Babies begin reaching for objects, shifting their weight, and may start rolling from tummy to back.
  • Goal: Provide a variety of sensory toys to encourage these new movements and skills.

Month 6 – Mastery and Mobility:

  • Rolling Over: Expect your baby to move in both directions and exhibit greater mobility and strength.
  • Goal: Support your baby’s newfound mobility and stability, offering challenges promoting movement, like toys that are just out of reach.

Beyond 6 Months – Continued Growth:

  • Crawling Preparation: After six months, babies start getting ready to crawl. Tummy time becomes more about exploring and less about mere endurance.
  • Goal: Encourage freedom of movement and exploration, creating a safe environment for your baby to roam and discover.

Continue Your Tummy Time Adventure 

As we’ve explored the incredible journey of tummy time, from the first tentative moments to the joyous milestones of rolling and crawling, it’s clear that these experiences are more than just developmental steps—they are precious moments of bonding and discovery. 

As a parent or caregiver, your role in this journey is invaluable. Your encouragement, patience, and engagement make each tummy session a nurturing and positive experience for your little one. Celebrate their progress, adapt to their needs, and enjoy this time together.

For more insights, tips, and stories about the beautiful world of parenting, especially those first crucial years, I invite you to visit my blog. Here, you’ll find a wealth of information, from detailed guides on baby care to personal stories and experiences that resonate with the journey of parenthood.

Whether you’re looking for practical advice or some empathetic understanding, our blog is a resource created with love and care just for you.

Join our community, share your experiences, and continue to learn and grow along with your little one. Let’s navigate the beautiful, sometimes challenging, but always rewarding parenting path together! 🌟👶🤱

Check out my video on the “Best Time To Start Tummy Time” @motherbabycentral!

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