20+ ideas for tummy time activities
20+ simple acitivities and positions for making tummy time a fun part of you and your baby’s day.
I think most parents have been introduced to the importance of tummy time – and yet, it seems that a lot of babies haven’t gotten the same info. If you have a baby that refuses time on his stomach, or you find it difficult to keep him entertained during tummy time, you are not the only one. I’ve been through it.
- Related: 10 tips for making tummy time work
But tummy time doesn’t have to be something that is dreaded by neither you or your little one. Below you’ll find 20+ ideas for activities and positions that will help your little one explore the world around them while on their stomach.
20+ ideas for tummy time activities and positions
Disclaimer: Please use common sense and never leave your baby unattended or try to force activities on your little one. Just because my children liked an activity or were ready for them at a certain age, doesn’t mean that your child should be. My children showed very different preferences from an early age and developed at differences paces. Some activities were just not for one of the children while the other loved it. You know your baby best!
1. Big yoga ball.
Placing your little on on top of a big yoga ball while you support him under his chest and shoulders is a fun way to do tummy time. My son would love this when he was about 3 months old and we would very gently roll him back and forth – and later when he had more head control, we’d roll him all the way to the floor while having a firm grip on this legs and bottom, so he could touch the floor with his hands.
2. Lawn explorer.
My son loved it when we brought him outside and put him down on our lawn, so he could explore the grass and the flowers in it. We would usually put out a blanket out for him, but as soon as he started moving just a little bit, he would end up on the grass, so after a while, we just dropped it. This is of course mostly a warm and dry weather activity.
3. Do tummy time on you.
Just lie down on the floor, put your baby on your tummy and your baby will look for your eyes. Such an easy way to get started with tummy time. Later you can place them across your thighs giving them a boost, so they can better explore a toys or a book next to you. Or, as I mentioned earlier in the post, you can wear your baby in a sling or wrap as part of your daily routine – they will love the closeness to you and though you might find going to the grocery store quite boring, I’m certain your baby will have a field trip.
4. The room view.
Sit down on the couch or on the floor with your knees bent, place your baby so she will rest her body on your thighs and give her a great view of the room. Especially great if you have siblings playing nearby, a pet or another adult moving around. My son loved it when my husband would vacuum.
If you have a floor to ceiling window or similar, placing your little one with a clear view can also be a great entertainment. I use to lie down next to my daughter when we lived in an apartment with huge windows and just look outside at people. I think we began at around 4 months old, but we continued until she started preferring standing up to look out.
5. Activity center/gym.
Even though many activity centers for babies encourage babies to play on their backs, some have fun little details on the side or on the mat that are best explored on the stomach. We used an old Ikea activity center and simply added some toys that could hang all the way down to floor – and both my little ones loved exploring their toys from this hanging position while on their tummy. When my son was only a few months old he would be very fascinated when one of the toys in front of him dangled and would try and hold his head to have a longer and closer look at it.
6. Special tummy time mats.
You don’t need mats specifically for playing on the stomach, but I must admit it’s nice to have a safe designated little space reserved for your baby with toys that never mysteriously disappear – especially with toddler siblings around. We inherited a play mat with a few clackers, teethers and crinkle toys attached and especially my daughter loved it, but it’s definitely a nice-to-have and not a need-to-have.
7. Favourite toys – and moving toys.
Get your baby on their tummy and hand them some of their favourite toys – or maybe even some special toys that you only take out when your little one is playing on his stomach. My daughter absolutely adored her firefly from Lamaze and she would be happily placed on her stomach if she had her firefly to chew on, while my son preferred whatever toy his 2-year old sister would leave out. When your baby is ready to start rolling or crawling adding some toys that move, like cars and balls, are awesome – and when they can start interacting more and more with the toys, fill a classic Oball with scarfs and let them pull it out.
When you’re little one starts rolling just be mindful that they might get all tangled up – my little one had a special knack for it.
8. Air plane.
This little exercise if for older babies that are already capable of holding their head. I think we mostly did it with my son when he was about 6 months old. Get down on the floor and lie on your back, place your baby on your shins with his head, arms and shoulders over your knees, and gently rock your knees up and down. Make sure to have a secure hold on your little one; on his back in the beginning and later when he’s stronger, you can hold his hands. My boy would squeal with excitement whenever we did this.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met a child that haven’t loved balloons. Just blow one up and let them explore. I definitely recommend getting a balloon cover, but even if you do buy one, never leave your younglings alone with the balloon in case your little explorer decides to chew on the balloon or otherwise make it pop.
10. Floating bath toy.
I never tried this idea, but I came across it a while ago and absolutely loved the simplicity of it. To learn about how to set it up safely please check out CandoKiddo’s own post about floating a both toy in a pan of water.
11. Blowing bubbles.
So, if you’ve read any of my other post about indoor activities for babies, then you know, we love bubbles in our household. From about 3 or 4 month, my children have loved it when I’ve blown bubbles – and I totally get it. It can be really mesmerising to look at and the older they got, the more they would reach out trying to grab them, even when placed on their stomach.
To be able to give your little one your full attention – or if you need to entertain more than your baby with bubbles – investing in a bubble machine might be a good investment.
12. Everyday items.
Hand your little one or two everyday items and let her explore. Of course make sure they are safe for babies, so look out for choking hazards. I often handed my children a wooden spoon, a plastic plate and later bigger food items like an orange, leek etc. When she’s a bit older and getting ready to crawl lay out some more exciting objects just out of reach. I know my oldest would be eager to try and get a hold of the remote and my hair brush – and whenever I did the laundry the socks were a huge hit, but of course you common sense and don’t let your little one suck on the remote.
13. Set up books.
Sometimes when I needed a few minutes to myself and weren’t able to bring my little one, I would set up books for him like a small wall. Accordian books with photos on both sides are especially perfect for this as they show more images at the same time and don’t fall over easily when your baby interacts with them. My kids loved the ones we had with animals and vibrant pictures!
14. Hello baby in the mirror.
Both my kids loved looking in the mirror. We don’t have a mirror that goes all the way to the floor, so instead we bought my firstborn a baby floor mirror – and despite my son falling a sleep in front of the mirror half the time, it has most definitely been a success with both my little ones.
15. Mess free finger paint.
This is an activity I wished I’d come across when my children were still babies! Mess free finger paint is perfect for tummy time. Check our Muma.Papa.Bubba for details!
16. Sensory play.
Exposing your baby to all kinds of different textures is a great sensory experience on it’s own, but I also loved giving both my little ones new and exciting things to explore during tummy time, to keep them engaged longer. I’ve handed them a hold array of things from sheepskins. wool blankets, silk scarfs, a kids guitar and a knitted sweater to ribbons, Lego Duplos and paper plates.
I’ve also come across people taking the mess free painting idea (idea no. 15) and instead of paint have used pompoms, buttons, water beads and other items that move inside the plastic bag, when touched. You can either just hand your baby an item at a time or et it up around her, encouraging her to move.
17. Tape stuck to the ground.
Stick a piece of painter’s tape (masking tape?) on the ground and let your little one try and tear it off. Whenever your little one gets the tape of just reuse it and stick it to the ground again. This is of course an activity your little one should not do unsupervised.
18. Simple water play.
All you need is a small pan with a tiny bit of water in the bottom and a few toys suitable for water. This activity is best for babies with good head control, but you should of course still keep an eye out for your baby while doing this activity.
let baby splash in the water and reach for the toys. Water is a great sensory experience, and they can develop hand eye coordination by reaching for the toys. We have used plastic balls, plastic rings, and bath toys.
19. Sensory containers and noise makers in all shapes.
Fill plastic bottles or small see-through containers with different items like corn kernels, beans, pom poms, rice, dry pasta, popsicle sticks and you name it. Make sure you baby can’t open the containers and let them explore. My daughter especially loved all the different noise makers we made her, but she was definitely also a fan of hitting pots and containers to listen to the different sounds they would make. This was also one of the activities that I believed encouraged her to learn to lean on one arm to be able to hit with the other – and later, to sit up.
20. Saucer swing.
If you have the space for it – either indoors or outdoors – I would definitely recommend getting a flying saucer style swing. It’s one of those toys that just grows with your child, and if you place a blanket on top of it and make sure your little one is safe, then this is such a fun way for your baby to spend tummy time! Of course listen to your child and never leave them alone on a swing. My daughter liked lying on top of the swing whenever we went to the park and preferred for me to very gently rock it back and forth.
You can’t go wrong with a good old fashioned round of peek-a-boo. As soon as your little one starts to show interest in this simple game, try making it a part of tummy time. I know we’ve had our fair share of baby giggles during tummy time because of this.
22. Hand objects in elastic string
Simply hang a fun colourful toy – or as I did a cardboard easter egg – in a string in a height for your little one to explore. The little bounce it egg made as my son tried to get a hold of the toy was a source of pure excitement and joy.
If you have anymore ideas for simple tummy time activities, please feel free to share below!