When Does Tummy Time Start for Babies? Do’s and Don’ts

baby tummy time

There are several key milestones in your baby’s development, and one of those is tummy time. Tummy time has many benefits and is a crucial practice to help your baby grow and learn. You may have heard the phrase before but not know where to begin. We are here to demystify the process. 

While it’s an important exercise, you must understand the appropriate tummy time position and take the process slow with your baby. Incorrect tummy time behavior can not only be risky but potentially fatal.

At Cubo Ai Smart Baby Monitor, infant safety is our number one priority. Our team uses their combined years of parenting experience, tech expertise, and consulting from medical professionals to bring you the most up-to-date knowledge on baby safety. Read on for more information about safe and proper tummy time routines.

Disclaimer: this post is for informational purposes only and is not meant to be taken as medical advice. For medical information, consult your GP or pediatrician.

Guide to this post

What is tummy time?

Tummy time essentially means giving your baby some time to lie on their stomach. This time must be while your baby s awake and someone is present to supervise them. It is a crucial activity for your baby’s development.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), your baby should sleep on their back for all sleep times until at least one year of age. This is to decrease the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). 

This recommendation means that infants spend the majority of their time on their backs. As a result, parents began to worry about their babes developing a ‘flat head’. While research has since debunked this concern (that typically resolves itself after six months of age), experts continue to recommend tummy time to help your baby learn to play, develop motor skills, and much more. 

What are the benefits of tummy time?

There are many reasons to do tummy time with your baby:

  • It helps reduce the risk of your baby getting a flat spot on their head. 
  • It promotes muscle strength in your baby’s neck and shoulders
  • It helps your baby learn the motor skills to begin to move, play, crawl and walk
  •  It fosters independent learning
How young is too young to start tummy time? Experts say you can start tummy time right away!

When does tummy time start?

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development recommends starting tummy time from the day you bring your baby home from the hospital. Beginning this practice early on can help prevent your baby from fussing about doing tummy time.

Your baby will benefit from two or three sessions daily, of just 3-5 minutes each. You can increase this time in line with your baby’s growth and pace of learning. By the time your baby reaches 12 weeks of ages, experts say your baby can be doing as much as an hour of time on their tummy.

So, when does tummy time start? Every baby is different and may not take to tummy time in the same way. Keep in mind that it’s okay if your baby doesn’t immediately start spending time on their tummy. Try to encourage tummy time in the first few weeks at home. After that, make sure to take it slow and give your baby the chance to learn at their own pace. 

How to do tummy time

There are many different ways to incorporate tummy time into your baby’s routine. Trying new methods can help keep your baby engaged and interested. Practicing time on the tummy doesn’t have to mean time on the floor; you can try other techniques to find what suits you and your baby best. 

Methods to try

  • Tummy-to-Tummy – This method involves lying down or propping yourself up in a comfortable position. Place your baby on your tummy or chest so that you are face to face. Make sure to hold on to your baby at all times for safety. This practice can be the easiest way to introduce tummy time into your daily routine naturally.
  • Lap soothe – Another technique is to lie your baby face down on your lap while burping them or holding them. Placing your hand on your baby’s back or bottom can soothe them and help keep them calm.
  • Floor time – Set up a comfortable space on the floor for your baby. Spread out a soft blanket and stay close to your baby. Interaction can keep the baby distracted and make it a more enjoyable experience. 
  • Eye-level smile – Support your baby to prop themselves up by folding up a small towel or placing a small pillow under their armpits. This can help your baby to lift their head and gives them something to push up from. Then get down to eye level and encourage your baby to make eye contact with you. Your baby should make more of an effort to lift their head so they can see you. 
  • Tummy-down carry – This method is self-explanatory. When carrying your baby, try a tummy-down position. You can do this safely by slipping your hand between your baby’s legs and stomach. Use your other hand to support their head and neck. Make sure to hold your baby close to your body for balance and comfort. 
Avoid tummy time after feeding and when your baby is tired or fussy. For best results, try tummy time straight after a nap.

What to do if your baby hates tummy time

If your baby isn’t a lover of tummy time straight away, don’t stress. It can be common for babies to act fussy about tummy time in the beginning. Try not to force the issue. If your baby is becoming distressed, stop the tummy time and try it again later. 

The optimal time to try is when your baby is awake, alert, and happy. Unfortunately, when your baby is already having a grumpy moment, introducing time on the tummy will not go smoothly. Try not to do tummy time after feeding. The pressure put on your baby’s tummy may cause them to spit up. The better time would be straight after a diaper change or a nap. 

If you are doing everything right, and your baby still isn’t enjoying the tummy time, try introducing toys or games as a distraction to keep your baby happy and playful.

Do’s and don’ts for tummy time

If you want a quick overview, keep in mind these essential do’s and don’ts for tummy time with your baby:


  • Start as soon as possible – when does tummy time start? Of course, that depends on the baby. The AAP recommends trying as soon as your baby comes home from the hospital.
  • Start slow – even 1 to 2-minute intervals can help your baby. Tummy to tummy time can be one of the easiest ways to introduce the practice
  • Place a small towel under your baby’s armpits – it can help your baby feel more in control and better able to lift their head. It also gives them something to push up from
  • Introduce distractions -giving your baby toys or something to look at can distract them and help them relax during tummy time
  • Supervise your baby at all times during tummy time 


  • Panic if your baby rejects the position – some babies don’t like tummy time. Your baby can learn and develop in other ways, and you shouldn’t stress if your baby gets distressed by lying on their tummy. Instead, take a break and try again another time.
  • Try tummy time at night – it should always be done when your baby is awake and with you or someone else. Spending time on the tummy at night can massively increase the risk of SIDS. 
  • Leave your baby unsupervised at any time during tummy time – if you only take one point away from this article, this is the most vital piece of information. Babies are vulnerable and unpredictable. So tummy time s an activity that needs to be done under close supervision.

About the writer:

Sinead Carey is a part-time freelance writer and full-time nurse in Ireland. She is passionate about women’s health and enjoys writing for wellness, travel, and lifestyle brands. When she doesn’t have her head in a book, she spends time cuddling her Frenchie and eating Mexican food. Follow her on Instagram @carey_creative

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