You know your baby needs tummy time, but sometimes they seem so uncomfortable. You may wonder, “Are we doing this right?” 🙃
Tummy time positions actually vary quite a bit depending on your baby’s age and strength. Comfort is the goal when they’re first starting out, followed by strengthening and, eventually, forward movement.
Learn what to expect over time in this illustrated guide from pediatric occupational therapist Rachel Coley. For more, check out the Lovevery Parent Course, Baby’s Best Tummy Time.
Tummy time at 0–2 months
At this stage, the goal is for your baby to become comfortable on their belly. In tummy time, your newborn or young baby may:
- Round their back slightly
- Bend their arms and tuck them close to the body with hands near shoulders
- Bend their knees under their hips
- Mostly have their head down
- Be able to lift and turn their head briefly with great effort
- Make crawling or pushing motions with their feet
- Be comfortable with either cheek down
If your baby isn’t loving tummy time on the floor, check out “4 ideas for no-floor, less fussy tummy time.”
Tummy time at 3–5 months
At this stage, the goal is strengthening head, neck, and upper body muscles. In tummy time, your baby may:
- Straighten their legs so that their lower belly touches the surface beneath them
- Use their elbows for stability, either under or in front of their shoulders
- Lift their head to a 45-degree angle and hold it briefly without bobbing, getting closer to 90 degrees by 5 months of age
- Turn their lifted head to fully look left, right, and straight ahead
- Turn their head to place the opposite cheek down
Tummy time at 5–7 months
At this stage, the goal is for your baby to continue to strengthen their muscles and grasp nearby toys. In tummy time, your baby may:
- Press through their forearms to lift their upper chest
- Begin to press up briefly through straight arms
- Lift their arms and legs off the floor and rock back and forth, or appear to be “swimming” or “flying”
- Use open hands to reach for, then eventually grab and play with enticing toys placed immediately nearby
- Bring their knees under their hips briefly or dig their feet into the floor in an alternating pattern
Tummy time at 6–10 months
At this stage, the goal for your baby is movement. Your older baby may:
- Belly crawl to move forward or backward
- Get up fully onto their hand and knees
- Do planks on their knees or feet, lifting their belly and hips slightly off the floor
- Transition from their belly to a sitting position, often using their hands and knees
When to stop tummy time
Once your baby can get into and out of sitting on their own—and/or begins to crawl—you can stop doing reps of tummy time, says Coley. “But do continue to offer lots of floor play,” she adds.
Read our tummy time FAQs for expert advice on common tummy time concerns. Always supervise your baby during tummy time.
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Expert Rachel Coley, MS, OT/L leads our Baby’s Best Tummy Time course to answers your top questions to make this critical activity happy and stress-free.Learn more
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