Baby development

How Much Tummy Time Does Your Baby Need?

Understanding why tummy time is important and how to do it right

By Kaili Ets

How Much Tummy Time Does Your Baby Need?

Source: Getty

We all benefit from a good workout—even babies. And one of the most important workouts for infants is tummy time. Time spent on a play mat helps your baby develop the strength they'll need to hold their head up, roll over, crawl and someday walk. While your baby may be fussy or look awkward lying on their belly, craning their neck and flailing about, they're learning an essential skill and getting stronger by the day.

What is tummy time?

Tummy time is when you place your baby on their stomach while they are awake and supervised. It helps your baby develop the muscles in their back, neck, and shoulders. It also reduces the risk of developing flat head syndrome, which is caused when babies lie in the same position, often on their back, for long periods of time.

To get started, place your baby on their front on a soft but firm surface. Keep in mind that young babies often lift their heads and then let them drop again, so you want them to have a soft landing for that little noggin. A firm mattress, pillow or even changing pad works well. Playmats or padded blankets on the floor can work but might be better once baby has a bit more neck control.

How much tummy time should my baby have?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies have at least 30 minutes of tummy time per day. This can be broken up into shorter sessions throughout the day. Babies typically don't like being on their tummies at first, so it's important to start slowly and let your baby get used to it.

baby lying in tummy time looking at the camera Source: Getty

What to do if your baby hates tummy time?

If your baby is having trouble staying on their tummy or seems uncomfortable, you can try placing them on your chest or propping them up with a pillow. You can also try different surface textures to see if that makes a difference (like a fuzzy blanket or play mat).

If that's still not doing the trick, try:

  • Putting a toy in front of them that they can reach for
  • Getting down on the floor and talking or singing to them
  • Gently massaging their back
  • Taking breaks often so they don't get too frustrated
  • Holding your baby upright and letting them look over your shoulder. This is another way they can strengthen their neck while you're working up to more traditional tummy time

Learn More with our Tummy Time Workshop!

In partnership with Peeka & Co., join Pediatric Occupational Therapist Kaili Ets from Kaili Ets Family Wellness in this workshop to learn more about tummy time and how to make it more enjoyable, not just for your baby but for you as well.

In this workshop, Kaili covers:

  • What is tummy time and why is it important
  • How long tummy time should be for each day
  • How to support your baby in tummy time
  • Play essentials to make the process more fun
  • What is upside down tummy time and how it can help
  • How tummy time can also help with learning to roll


Kaili Ets is lovingly known as the Holistic Baby Guru. She has a passion for normalizing and bringing clarity around baby sleep, development, reflux, and more.

Wife and mom of two, Kaili understands the importance of trusting your mama instincts. She is on a mission to help mamas tune into their intuition and feel like the confident super moms they are.

Her wit and humor make her an approachable authority on all things baby-related, as she provides down-to-earth advice that makes everyone feel like they can do this parenting thing! You can find her at or on IG/FB @theholisticbabyguru

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