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Tummy Time Timeline

Tips, Tricks and How-to's for each stage of development

What is Tummy Time?

Tummy time is an important developmental activity for your baby, starting as soon as you come home from the hospital. Tummy time allows your baby to strengthen the muscles of the neck, shoulders, and back, reduces the likelihood of developing flat head syndrome, and helps your baby to develop balance, coordination, and problem-solving skills. Developing neck strength and agility through tummy time is particularly useful in breastfeeding because it allows your baby to nurse well on both breasts and in different positions.


  • The first 3 months of your baby’s life are the most critical time for the development of head shape, so it is important to begin tummy time right away.
  • Before beginning, make sure that your baby is awake and alert, and has not been fed within the last 20 minutes.
  • Tummy time requires your close supervision for the entire session.
  • Try to set a goal of 3 – 5 tummy time sessions per day.
  • Each session should continue for as long as your baby tolerates it. This may change from session to session and day to day, but overall you will notice your baby becoming stronger and more tolerant.
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Tummy time tips

The First Month

  • In the first month, your baby is just learning to lift his head, even for a second, and is learning to turn his head in both directions.
  • The best place for tummy time at this age is on your chest or stomach.
  • To position your baby, lie on your back or lean back in a reclined position. Place your baby on his belly on either your chest or stomach, facing you. Encourage your baby to bring his elbows under his shoulders.
  • Speak or sing to your baby softly, and gently help him to turn his head from side to side.
  • Extra tip: When your baby is in a wrap, carrier, or being held against your chest, make sure to frequently change the direction he is facing in order to prevent tightening of the neck muscles.

Months 1-3

  • In months 1 through 3, your baby is learning to lift her head to at least a 45 degree angle, tilt her head side to side, and watching objects as they move.
  • The best place for tummy time at this age is the floor, though you may continue some sessions on your chest or stomach.
  • To position your baby, place her on a blanket or play mat on the floor and encourage her to bring her elbows just below or slightly beyond the shoulders. A tummy time pillow works well at this age. Place her elbows onto the pillow under her shoulders. This will encourage her to lift her chest. You may use a rolled thin blanket or burp cloth in place of a tummy time pillow.
  • Get down on the floor with your baby so that your face is 8-10” away. Move your face back and forth to encourage your baby to move her head in both directions. As your baby starts to take interest in toys and objects, you may use soft rattles or squeaky toys.
  • Extra tip: At this age, babies are also learning about facial expressions, and how to smile and make noises. You can support these developmental advances while in tummy time by making different sounds at different pitches, imitating any sounds your baby makes, and smiling.

Months 3-4

  • In months 3 through 4, your baby is learning to lift her head, shoulders, and chest while on her stomach, is gaining better head control, and may try rolling from her belly onto her back.
  • The best place for tummy time at this age is on the floor, and your baby will move away from needing the support pillow or roll.
  • To position your baby, place her on a blanket or play mat on the floor, again with elbows just below or slightly beyond her shoulders.
  • Now is the time to make tummy time as interactive as possible. Play peekaboo, place a mirror in front of your baby, read books with different textures, or use squeaky toys or rattles.
  • Extra tip: You can gently help guide your baby through rolling from her belly onto her side or back to help her learn to roll.

Months 4-6

  • In months 4 through 6, your baby is learning to roll from belly to back and then from back to belly, to sit unsupported, and to reach for and grasp toys.
  • The best place for tummy time at this age is the floor. Continue to make all sessions as interactive as possible with the use of peekaboo, mirrors, books, and rattles.
  • Support exploration by placing toys or objects of interest slightly in front of your baby to encourage reaching, or to different sides of your baby to encourage circular movement and rolling.
  • Extra tip: To help encourage sitting, position your baby sitting on the floor in a tripod position with his arms forward. Holding toys at eye level or higher will encourage your baby to sit up even straighter.