Best Tummy Time Tips and Activities for Baby Fun

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Tummy Time Takeoff: A Guide to Choosing the Best Tummy Time Pillow for Your Little Explorer

Tummy time, that magical period where your little one transforms from a snuggly bundle into a wiggling, reaching adventurer, is crucial for their development. In different ways, it strengthens neck and back muscles, hones motor skills, and sparks curiosity about the world around them. But let’s be honest, those tiny arms can tire quickly, and maintaining a comfortable position can be a struggle. Enter the tummy time pillow, a versatile tool designed to make this essential playtime more enjoyable and productive for both baby and parent.

First, some background.

What is Tummy Time?

Many years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) started recommending that babies be put down to sleep on their backs. The reason? To address SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.) Fortunately, the number of cases dropped considerably!

Unfortunately, newborn babies often developed delays in fine motor skills development and muscle strength. While being “belly up” they don’t have an opportunity to exercise the muscles in the upper body. Another drawback was many babies developed flattened areas at the rear of their skulls. This flattening of the back of your baby’s head is called Positional Plagiocephaly.

Today, the AAP recommends “Tummy Time.” This is supervised time where the infant is awake, on their tummy, and is supervised.

Why is Tummy Time Important?

The benefits of Tummy Time are many! First and foremost, any additional time spent interacting with your little one benefits both of you! Beyond the fun activities, brief periods enjoying Tummy Time activities is a great way to enjoy “sensory play” while supporting muscle and motor skills development.

An important point to make: Tummy Time should be supervised with the parent engaged. Leaving the infant alone to sleep on their back has proven to be a potentially  dangerous combination. If you have any questions about this practice for your newborn baby, your should first discuss it with your pediatrician.

Even a few minutes of Tummy Time several times each day can be beneficial by avoiding too much time lying on their back. Place your baby on their stomach and observe. If they seem uncomfortable in any way, try again later. Some may enjoy the benefits of Tummy Time while others can be slow to embrace it.

The actions of lifting their head and eventually turning over are the initial skills for them to master, strengthening they neck, arms, shoulders, back, and core muscles. By doing so, they are on their way to achieving key developmental milestones like crawling, sitting up, and eventually, walking.

Why Choose a Tummy Time Pillow?

While any flat surface can technically serve as a tummy time platform, a dedicated pillow offers several advantages:


The gentle incline provided by the pillow helps lift your baby’s chest and head, easing pressure on their neck and making it easier to breathe. This encourages them to push up with their arms, strengthening those vital muscles.


The soft padding provides a comfortable cushion for your baby’s tummy and prevents them from getting discouraged by hard surfaces. It creates an enjoyable Tummy Time position.


Many tummy time pillows come with built-in toys, mirrors, and textures to stimulate your baby’s senses. Having them right  in front of your baby can keep them engaged during playtime. Eye contact is supported through support and comfort. This becomes a fun way to look deeply into your baby’s eyes and take full advantage of their awake time!


Some pillows can be used for other purposes, like propping up your baby for reading or playing, making them a worthwhile investment. They may not be a favorite toy, but they will encourage the best activities for your babies physical and cognitive abilities.

Choosing the Right Tummy Time Pillow

With so many options available that approach Tummy Time from different directions, choosing the perfect tummy time pillow can be overwhelming. Here are some key factors to consider:

Age and Development

Newborns and younger babies may benefit from a pillow with minimal incline and soft, plush materials. Consider it like a “soft blanket with some support.” As they grow stronger, look for pillows with firmer support and more engaging features.

Shape and Design

C-shaped pillows provide good back support, while wedge-shaped pillows offer a more gentle incline. Flat pillows with activity arches can be a good idea for older babies who enjoy reaching and playing.


Breathable fabrics like cotton or mesh are ideal to prevent overheating. Look for washable and easy-to-clean materials for inevitable spills and messes. You’ll appreciate washable when a diaper change comes a bit late.


Consider additional features like removable toys, crinkly textures, or built-in mirrors that can stimulate your baby’s senses and encourage exploration. To maximize your baby’s development, make the best use of their “wake windows” to engage your baby’s brain and make engaging activities part of your daily routine.


Ensure the pillow meets all safety standards and is free from harmful materials. Look for certifications like OEKO-TEX Standard 100 or CPSIA.

Top Tummy Time Tips

Here’s a glimpse into some popular Tummy Time pillow options, catering to different needs and preferences. They can be the best way to encourage a great time for your newborn or 5-month-old baby, introducing new skills without being a tough workout.

Boppy Original (Check Pricing on Amazon)

This versatile C-shaped pillow doubles as a nursing pillow and offers gentle support for younger babies. Its soft cover and removable toys make it a comfortable and engaging choice, helping to keep baby’s attention.

Fisher-Price Deluxe Kick & Play Piano Gym (Check Pricing on Amazon)

This activity gym combines a soft Tummy Time mat with a pillow and a detachable piano bar. The colorful toys and sounds keep babies entertained and encourage pushing up and kicking. This extra physical activity aids in your baby’s physical development and can enable longer sessions as they develop greater visual perception and a sense of exploration.

Tummy Time Water Mat (Check Pricing on Amazon)

This inflatable mat features a colorful underwater scene and floating toys. The gentle pressure of the water provides a sensory experience and encourages Tummy Time while keeping babies cool during their playtime activities.

Lovevery The Play Gym (Check Pricing on Amazon)

This organic cotton play gym offers multiple textures and activities, including a Tummy Time pillow with a removable mirror. The open design encourages exploration and movement in a safe environment.

Nuby Tummy Time Pillow (Check Pricing on Amazon)

This roller-style pillow features an adjustable incline and detachable toys like a rattle and teether. The different textures and colors keep babies engaged, encouraging “baby play” and provids sensory stimulation.

tummy time activities for 5 month old
Courtesy Unsplash

Beyond the Pillow

Remember, the best Tummy Time pillow is just one part of the equation. Here are some additional tips to make your baby’s Tummy Time sessions more enjoyable and productive:

  • Start early: Introduce Tummy Time from birth, even for just a few minutes at a time.
  • Follow your baby’s cues: If they seem uncomfortable or frustrated, take a break and try again later.
  • Make it fun: Use colorful toys, sing songs, and talk to your baby to keep them engaged.
  • Variety is key: Switch up the environment, use different pillows and toys, and try different positions to keep it interesting.
  • Focus on progress: Celebrate your baby’s achievements, no matter how small. Remember, every push-up and head raise is a victory!

With the right Tummy Time pillow and a little patience, you can help your little explorer conquer those early milestones and have a blast doing it!