When to Start Tummy Time With Your Baby

Newborn baby safely showing when to start tummy time

Tummy time is an important activity for your baby, and it allows them to see and explore the world from a whole new perspective. Not only does it help your child’s physical and emotional development, but it’s also a great way to bond with your baby.

We’re here to help you learn when to start tummy time and how to do it safely. 

Graphic answers, “How long should tummy time be?” with a few minutes, 2 to 3 times per day.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends caregivers begin tummy time a few days after birth. When you start tummy time early, you help your baby’s physical development and help them build the strength they need to meet other milestones.

How long should tummy time be?

When you first start tummy time with a newborn, practice it 2 to 3 times per day, for a few minutes at a time.

Some tummy time tips:

  • Practice tummy time when your baby is calm and content. They are more likely to enjoy tummy time if they are already calm.
  • Try to avoid tummy time right after your baby has eaten. Being on their tummy with a full belly may make your baby uncomfortable or fussy.
  • Be patient and set realistic expectations. Tummy time is a new experience for babies, and they may not love it at first. Learn more about what to do if your baby cries during tummy time

Graphic shows where to do tummy time safely. Do it on a clean, flat, firm surface.

Tummy time is safe when babies (including newborns) are awake and supervised. Never leave your baby unattended on their belly, including during naps and nighttime sleep. Back is always best for safe infant sleep.

Where to do tummy time

Put your baby on their belly on a firm, flat, clean surface, like carpet or a blanket laid out on the floor. You can even lay on your back on one of these surfaces and place your baby on your belly, as long as you are both awake and alert.

You can also use a play mat that comes with built-in interactive toys, but they’re not necessary. Tummy time doesn’t need to be fancy. All your baby needs are you and a clean, safe surface.

Don’t practice tummy time on a bed, couch, changing table or other furniture. These elevated, soft surfaces can put your baby at risk for falling or suffocation.