Getting your baby used to tummy time – Part 2

When can I start tummy time?

You can start tummy time as soon as your baby is born. Until it’s strong enough to lift its head on its own, you can try the following positions:

  • holding your baby on its tummy, supported on your arm (“Fliegergriff”),
  • carrying your baby over your shoulder,
  • laying your baby tummy-down on your lap,
  • placing your baby tummy-down on your chest or stomach.

These positions will make your baby feel safe and secure and help strengthen its back and neck muscles ready for the next phase of tummy time.

Baby on its tummy - tummy time
When to start and how you can help make tummy time easier and more enjoyable for your baby (Picture Credits: ©O_Lypa / Getty Images)

How can I make tummy time easier for my baby?

There are various ways you can make tummy time easier and more enjoyable for your baby. When placed on their tummies, babies instinctively try to lift their heads and some can become frustrated and lose confidence if they don’t have the strength to do it.

Start with just a few minutes two or three times a day, gradually increasing the frequency of tummy time. Never leave your child unattended or to cry.

  • Choose the moment you try tummy time carefully. Ideally, you should pick a time of the day when your baby is happy and well-balanced. Avoid placing your baby on its tummy when it’s hungry or tired – it definitely won’t enjoy tummy time then.
  • Place your baby on a hard surface or on a blanket on the floor. Because it’s easier to push against a hard surface, the greater the resistance your baby meets as it presses its chest against the floor, the more easily it will be able to lift its head.
  • For more support, place a rolled up towel or bib under your baby’s chest and armpits.
  • Place your baby’s elbows and arms underneath its chest. This will help it use its shoulder muscles in the tummy position and make lifting its head easier.

Find lots of different ways of playing with your baby. Try singing to it or placing a rattle or an open book within sight and reach. It is also important to make sure that you are on the same level as your child during tummy time, by sitting or lying on the floor beside it, for example. If you don’t, your baby may start to feel alone or abandoned.

When will my baby start to feel comfortable in the tummy position?

It’s often hard to imagine that one day this will be its favourite position, particularly if your baby is still very young, doesn’t enjoy tummy time or take the first opportunity to roll into a different position.

But don’t give up! Perseverance is the key. Carry your baby in the flying position regularly and lie it on its tummy to play.

2 to 3 months:

Your baby should be feeling more and more comfortable on its tummy, especially if it’s had lots of opportunities to spend time in this position. At three months, babies should be starting to feel completely at home on their tummies. This means that when it’s on its tummy your baby should be spending less time thinking about its body and more time discovering the world around it.

5 months:

At this age babies are generally able to stretch out their arms and push further away from the floor, turn over or move in a circle on their tummies.

6 months:

Babies can now reach out for objects and no longer need to use both arms for stability. Many babies will now prefer playing on their tummies. Babies who enjoy tummy time at an early age may start to show the first signs of wriggling along on their tummies and crawling. They may be able to reach out for objects and catch hold of them or start to draw up their knees and lift their bottoms into the air.