21 Fun Tummy Time Activities and Ideas for Newborns and Older Babies

Looking for fun tummy time activities for your baby?

Then you’re in the right place! If you find tummy time boring or your little one hates doing it, then check out more than a dozen tummy time ideas and activities below that your baby will surely enjoy.

But first, let’s prepare for tummy time.

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What Do You Need For Tummy Time

  • You need to be present

And not just physically present. You need to be mentally present, pay attention and always supervise your baby. 

Especially if they’re a newborn doing tummy time on the bed or a soft blanket. They can roll over or suffocate on the latter.

  • You need a clean blanket

Or a towel, play mat, playpen, or crawling rug.

Just some dedicated clean items for them to do tummy time, initially.

  • You need a clean area

Anywhere will do! It can be indoors in the living room, kitchen, or bedroom. 

Or outdoors, on the grass, in the park, beach, etc.

As long as the area is relatively clean, and you have a clean blanket or outdoor playpen or play mat, your baby will be fine to do tummy time anywhere!

Tummy Time Activities and Ideas

Lay them on your chest

Doing skin-to-skin is the best tummy time activity to do with your newborn.

You can also do it with clothes on but nothing beats that special bonding activity of doing it skin-to-skin with your little one.

You can lie down on an incline, or lie down on your back with a thick pillow under your head.

Lie down in front of them

You can further encourage your baby to have more tummy time by laying down in front of them!

You can talk softly to them, sing them a song, play peekaboo, or make funny faces.

Check out the mom in this video and see how she entertains her baby during tummy time:

Use a towel or pillow 

Give your kids a new perspective on their environment by boosting them up using a rolled-up small towel or lounge pillow and placing that under their armpits and forearms!

This also makes it easier for them to lift their heads for tummy time.

Use tummy time toys

One-week-old babies can already see a tad bit of colors and such at 8-10 inches away.

So at that age, you can already prop up some toys in front of them, to make tummy time more fun!

You can use the following tummy time toys (or Montessori tummy time toys, if you prefer) for newborns:

For older babies, you can use the above toys plus some more such as:

Surround them with toys and objects, so they can practice looking around, and exercising those neck muscles.

Just take note to always use age-appropriate toys for babies that are getting more mobile. As most would be mouthing anything that they can grab and hold on to!

Use books

You can also use books for tummy time!

Get some soft books or crinkly books for newborns or younger babies.

And for older ones, you can prop up board books, sensory books, and all kinds of books in front or around them.

Use household items

You can also just use regular household items for tummy time.

This is more suitable for older babies that can grab onto things and have more developed hand-eye coordination.

Objects such as wooden spoons, wooden bowls, Tupperware, and basically anything safe for them to mouth and are not a choking hazard can be fine to play with.

Use family pictures

Pictures on photo stands are also a great way to make tummy time delightful for your baby.

You can put pictures of everyone that they regularly see, even your pets.

Then, later on, introduce some other family members or friends you want them to become familiar with!

Use your phone

Some parents have made their older babies, who hate tummy time, watch some shows on their phones. 

Then slowly weaned them off of it.

If you don’t want your baby watching TV that early on, you can try just using your camera selfie and have them look at themselves!

Or join in and see your baby look at themselves and you, with fascination, on your phone’s screen.

You can also use some filters from various apps and blow your baby’s mind away!

Do sensory activities

Another way to make tummy time more enjoyable is by incorporating some sensory play into it.

Not only will your baby work on their gross motor skills, but they can also develop their eye-hand coordination, and boost their cognitive and creative skills – all through sensory play!

You can try sensory bags, put some balls on a pan of water on the floor, fabrics with various textures, sensory bottles, etc.

Just remember to always supervise your little one while doing these activities.

Move toys and objects

Make tummy time toys fun and enjoyable to look at by moving them from side to side or even far away or close to their faces.

This is also a great visual tracking activity for your baby.

Use a baby gym

Another fun and easy way to do tummy time is by using a baby gym.

You don’t even need to grab and prop up some toys, as some non-toxic baby activity gym already have some tummy time toys in them, like the Lovevery.

Do it after bathing or changing diapers

Include tummy time in your diaper changing or bathing routine, especially for newborns or babies who seem to hate it.

Your baby will slowly get used to it and come to expect it.

And to make it more fun, you can interact with them – sing a song, make funny faces, do raspberries, etc.

Legs outstretched on the floor

Change up the usual tummy time on the floor by making them do it on your leg.

Sit on the floor with your legs outstretched and lay down your baby’s chest against your legs.

Talk to them, rub their back, sing songs, and don’t forget to put some fun toys in front of them.

Do it on your lap

You can also let your baby do tummy time on your lap.

Just sit down and position your baby’s tummy across your lap lengthwise while providing head support.

Change locations

Make tummy time more interesting and exciting by doing it in different places.

You can do it on the living room floor, on a nontoxic play mat.

Or in your garden, with an outdoor playpen.

Or in the kitchen, on the hardwood floor or tiled floor, with a blanket.

Or if you have floor-to-ceiling windows, let them face there and just look out at the people and things passing by!

As long as the surface they’re laying on is clean and there’s no choking or suffocation hazard for them, that will be fine.

Use an exercise ball

You can also use an exercise ball for a more entertaining tummy time.

Place them on top of the ball, get a firm hold on them, and gently roll them backward and forward.

Just always stay close to your baby and hold them all the time.

Blow bubbles

For older babies with stronger neck and arm muscles, try blowing some bubbles around them and they’ll be mesmerized by it.

They’ll keep looking up, making them exercise more their neck and upper torso!

Hang objects

For older babies, you can make them do more tummy time and strengthen those neck and arm muscles by making them look at things hanging on your wall or even the ceiling.

Just make sure that it’s close enough for them to look or even swipe at and that there’s no danger of it falling on their head and/or hurting them.

You can hang or stick simple items like ribbons, high-contrast cards, play silk fabrics, etc.

Do “baby airplane”

This is another fun tummy time activity for your newborn or even an older baby.

For newborns and younger babies, hold them like a football on your arm, and fly them around the house, making airplane noises.

Do the baby airplane in a different way for older babies (3 months and above).

Lie on your back, bend your knees to your chest then place your baby on your legs, facing you.

Make sure that their body is laying firmly on your legs.

Then hold them securely on their backs and start moving around, making airplane sounds.

Your baby will surely giggle at this tummy time activity. 

Give them a massage

Make tummy time relaxing and soothing for your baby by giving them a massage.

You can give them a foot or back massage and just gently rub or stroke their feet or back.

Do it with other people

A fresh face might make tummy time more enjoyable and stimulating for your baby.

If you have other kids or family members with you, make them do tummy time with your little one!

Just remember to always supervise when you have toddlers or younger kids who might not understand how fragile newborns are.

When To Start Tummy Time

You can already start tummy time at the hospital, right after giving birth!

Most parents though would prefer to do it at home.

There are really no hard rules on this one, as long as you do it as early as possible and as many times as possible.

Check out some info here on how long should you do tummy time and when is the best time to give tummy time to your newborn.

What If My Baby Hates Tummy Time

If your baby hates tummy time, you can try doing it for shorter stints, several times a day. 

So instead of doing it for a minute for your newborn, you can do it for 30 seconds. 

You can also try to change their tummy time position, so they’ll be entertained and distracted. 

Do it on your lap, hold them football-style, and use a pillow under their armpits.

Try also changing their tummy time toys more often, to further distract them.

FAQ on Tummy Time Ideas and Activities

How do I entertain my baby during tummy time?

You can entertain your baby during tummy time by using appropriate tummy time toys, like a rattle, teether, soft books, high contrast cards, or even a mirror, pictures of your family, and stuffed toys!
Just remember to always supervise them, especially if they’re getting more mobile and want to mouth the toys and objects in front of them.

What should you not do during tummy time?

You should never leave your newborn alone during tummy time. 
Always supervise them, especially if they’re doing tummy time on the bed or a soft blanket.
They could roll off the bed or suffocate on a soft, padded surface so always be there when your newborn is doing tummy time.

What are tummy time exercises?

Tummy time exercises are various fun activities that newborns and older babies can do, to make tummy time more entertaining for them.

Does tummy time need to be active?

Yes, tummy time is for awake and active babies. 
It’s not meant to be done during naptime or bedtime, as doing so can lead to SIDS.
It’s also not recommended to do tummy time when your baby is tired and sleepy, as they will most probably hate to do it.

Tummy Time Activities: Wrapping Up

I hope your little one will find the tummy time activities and ideas above delightful and entertaining.

A lot of babies don’t really like doing tummy time, especially when they have reflux.

So just always remember to wait for tummy time after a feeding – at least 30 minutes or more.

Take note also of the other do’s and don’ts of tummy time such as:

  • Always supervise your baby
  • Do it when they’re alert and happy
  • Don’t do tummy time when it’s time for them to sleep.
Julie