In this post, I’m sharing the best tummy time toys I frequently recommend to parents as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist.
Tummy time is one of the most beneficial activities to do with your baby. But some babies hate tummy time. They either do it only for a very short period of time, or just refuse to do it at all.
When parents ask me how to get a baby to do tummy time when they hate it, I often recommend using tummy time toys.
These recommendations will help with your baby’s development and make tummy time more enjoyable.
If you’ve got a baby who hates tummy time, or who doesn’t like doing it for extended periods of time, a few of these tummy time toys might be all you need to make it more fun for your little one!
Baby Push Walker With Activity Panel
Push walkers with an activity panel on the front are one of the best tummy time toys due to their versatility and ability to use them throughout your child’s development.
Even though it’s called a ‘walker’, your baby doesn’t need to be almost walking before they can use this toy.
You can actually start using a push walker with an activity panel to work on gross motor skills during tummy time for newborns.
All you need to do is place the activity panel in front of your baby while they’re lying on their tummy.
The sounds and bright lights will capture your baby’s attention and provide lots of encouragement for your baby to lift their head to look at them. This helps keep younger babies occupied during tummy time and can extend the amount of time they’re willing to stay in this position.
As they get stronger and more comfortable doing tummy time, you’ll notice your baby will start to reach forward with one hand to touch the buttons. This helps improve their coordination skills, as well as working on upper body strength and stability.
Then when your baby is learning to sit, you can place the activity panel in front of them and watch them move forward and backwards as they touch the buttons and keys.
Moving forward and backwards helps to develop their dynamic sitting balance, as well as increases their overall comfort moving in and out of their centre of gravity. This is something all babies need to master on the way to learning how to move from sitting into the crawling position.
As your baby’s development progresses and they’ve mastered sitting, you can use the push walker to help them practice high kneeling.
To do that, you can place the activity panel back on the trolley and allow them to use the sloped surface of the activity panel to support themselves in high kneeling while they play with the buttons and watch the lights.
Finally, when your little one is cruising comfortably along furniture or by holding your hand, place the push trolley nearby for them to hold onto and start walking with the support of the trolley.
So many uses and developmentally beneficial activities with one toy!
Baby Safe Mirror / Floor Mirror
A floor mirror is a wonderful tummy time toy for newborns. Seeing their reflection in the mirror will capture your baby’s attention and hold their interest during tummy time play.
There are multiple ways to use a tummy time mirror:
- For newborn babies, you can lay the mirror flat on the floor in front of your baby. This way when they’re on their tummy they can easily see the floor mirror without having to lift their head much at all. This is fantastic for young babies who don’t have the strength to lift their head yet.
- Propping the mirror up on an angle. This position encourages your baby to lift their head to see themselves in the mirror. This position is more difficult than placing the mirror flat on the floor, so you can use this placement once your baby is a little more confident in tummy time and able to lift their head.
Using a baby mirror propped up on an angle for your baby to look while they are in a side-lying position is also another fantastic option, particularly if your baby hates tummy time.
They’ll be able to see their reflection, lights reflecting in the mirror, and lots more, which will entertain them while on their side.
Soft Sensory Books
Sensory books are excellent tummy time toys for newborns. They generally contain lots of bright colors and ideally colours that have high contrast as well.
Taking these books and lying them flat on the ground in front of your baby is an excellent way to use them as early tummy time toys.
The high-contrast colors are great for visual stimulation, which will capture their interest and keep them entertained.
Try to choose soft books with pages that make crinkle sounds when touched or squeezed. This adds another element of tactile and auditory stimulation that babies love. As your baby becomes stronger and more comfortable in tummy time, they’ll be encouraged to reach out and grab these books to squeeze and play with them.
Another benefit of soft books is that you can also use these books outside of tummy time.
Placing a soft book on your baby’s tummy while they are on their backs in their play gym or in a rocker will give them something to hold on to, squeeze, and play with. This helps keep them entertained, but also continues to develop gross and fine motor skills.
Board books can be used in a similar way to soft books, lying flat on the floor in front of your baby while they are doing tummy time.
But they can also be placed standing up for a more advanced form of tummy time.
If you only have one board book, you can open it up and stand it in front of your baby. This will encourage them to lift their head to look at the book.
And if you have multiple board books you can place several of them in a semi circle around the front of your baby. This will encourage them to turn their head during tummy time.
Turning their head shifts their weight as they do it. This helps improve muscle strength in the arms as they shift more weight onto each arm as they turn their head.
And as they become even more skilled at tummy time, having the board books set up this way will encourage them to pivot. Pivoting is where they use their arms to turn themselves around while on their tummy. This further develops that arm and core strength and is a crucial skill required for crawling.
Penguin Musical Wobbler
This tummy time toy is great for several levels of tummy time and can be used in many different ways as your baby develops.
You can start by placing it in front of your baby while they’re in tummy time and push it yourself to make it wobble.
Because it makes noise, it will entice your baby to look up to see where that noise is coming from.
Many babies find the combination of movement and sound, along with the bright, contrasting colors to be very interesting and entertaining.
This tummy time toy is also great for older babies. You’ll notice as your baby gets older and their physical development progresses, they will start to reach out and bat this toy by themselves.
Batting the toy provides tactile feedback, as well as visual and auditory stimulation, further assisting with your baby’s development.
Batting toys is extremely beneficial while in tummy time. To bat a toy in tummy time, your baby must shift all of their weight to one arm. This is wonderful for developing arm strength. It also requires them to engage their core muscles and helps improve their balance.
Once they can bat toys while in tummy time they can progress to pivoting. Like with the board books, you can place the wobbler out to one side to encourage pivoting when your baby is ready.
Then, as your baby reaches new developmental milestones, like sitting, they can continue to use this engaging toy to keep them entertained.
The versatility of the wobbler makes it one of the best tummy time toys out there.
A baby play mat (also known as a baby gym or an activity mat) is another one of my favorite tummy time toys. This is a toy your baby will use throughout their early life and at different stages of development.
When using a baby gym, you can start by placing your baby on their tummy with toys hanging in front of them to catch their attention.
At first, your baby will just enjoy looking at these toys.
The hanging toys will then encourage them to start turning their head to look at different toys, which helps work on balance while also helping to develop a strong neck.
As they grow older, they’ll start to reach out and bat the toys with one hand, which causes them to shift their weight onto one side. This helps strengthen their core muscles and improve balance. Both of which are very important for crawling.
Another great feature to look for when purchasing a baby play gym is the ability to remove the toys. This allows you to swap out the toys for different ones when your child gets bored. It allows means you can remove the toys and use them as standalone toys, which is an added bonus.
A baby gym is also a toy I love for its versatility.
It’s also a fantastic toy to use to keep your baby entertained while they aren’t doing tummy time. They provide a safe environment where you can place your baby on their back with lots of toys to look at and entertain them while you get things done.
Tummy Time Water Mat
Tummy time water mats are similar to the play gym/mat, but they have a base filled with water that contains different shapes, colors and often pictures of animals as well.
Because the mat is filled with water and air, you can place the edge of the mat under your baby’s chest, with their legs off the mat and your baby’s head and arms over the mat. This creates a slight elevation, making tummy time easier for babies struggling with it.
Then once your baby becomes stronger you can increase the difficulty by placing their whole body on the mat.
The water in the mat adds a small amount of instability, which helps develop balance and muscle control.
While you can use this type of play mat from a very young age, I recommend waiting until a minimum age of 4 months. At this age, babies can usually use their arms to prop themselves up, and have more developed neck muscles allowing them to lift their head.
Because water mats are soft and squishy, and also made of plastic, there may be a risk of babies getting stuck face-down on them if they are younger. Even at 4 months and older, always supervise your baby while doing any form of tummy time.
What to Look For When Considering The Best Tummy Time Toys
As with all baby products, it’s important to make sure you’re selecting tummy time toys that are safe for babies. Tummy time should always be done safely, and each of the toys on the list helps your baby spend time doing tummy time sessions in a safe way.
While these toys are considered safe, please remember that babies should always be supervised while in tummy time. You should never leave your child unsupervised while they are practising tummy time.
Selecting age-appropriate tummy time toys is really important. Where possible, try to use toys that can be used by a wide age range. That way, you’ll need to buy fewer toys for your baby as they develop and progress to more advanced tummy time activities.
One of the main reasons for using toys during tummy time is that it helps your little one stay on their tummy for longer before getting upset. For that reason, it’s important to choose fun toys that entertain babies in various ways. These toys should make time spent in tummy time more fun, so babies are willing to do it for longer periods of time.