How to encourage tummy time with your baby
Putting your baby on their front to play helps muscle development. Our expert, children's nurse and health visitor Jessica Humphries, shares easy tips on how to do it
Even from the earliest weeks, giving your baby time to play on their tummy helps build the muscles they will need for sitting and crawling in the months ahead.
Top tips for tummy time
Tummy time is something your baby can develop at their own pace but it can be done whilst your baby is awake from birth.
At first, simply lay your baby on your chest so they get used to being on their front. Make sure you only do this while they are awake and unlikely to fall off to sleep.
By two months and upwards, a playmat is a good place to try tummy time. Being on their tummy is a great position to add variety to your baby’s play habits. It allows the opportunity for movement and exploration, helping build muscles your baby needs for their gross motor development, such as rolling and crawling.
Be aware of your baby's surroundings – for example, using a toy or baby mirror attracts their attention and can encourage your baby to raise their head and eventually to reach out. But remember, you want this time to be enjoyable for your baby, so make sure that you build up the minutes spent in this position gradually if needed.
If you find that your baby tends to just lie on the mat, face down and grizzling, don't leave them there. Instead, continue to help them get used to the position (as you did when they were tiny, lying on your chest). You can do this by laying them along your thigh as you sit down on the playmat yourself. Let them reach out for the toys or pretty shapes on the playmat's playbar or for a cuddly toy, for example.
It's also good to allow some play time on their back, to allow them to kick those little legs.
Another lovely way to help your baby stretch out and explore their new world is to try baby massage. You can start this when your baby is about two months old – it will really help you feel more confident handling your baby, too. To find out more, read our article How to massage your baby.
IMPORTANT: Always supervise your little one and remember that while tummy time is good for play, putting your baby on their back is the safest position for sleep.
As your baby grows, there are lots of great ways you can share other activities. Don't miss our article on how to find the perfect sport for your tot.