From play mats to musical toys, these are 10 tummy time must-haves for one of your baby’s most crucial activities

You probably imagine a lovely, cuddly infant wrapped in a blanket on their back in their parent’s arms. But this doesn’t have to be the case, and it shouldn’t be more than a few times per day, because tummy time allows kids to grow and develop their minds and bodies. From melodic toys to activity gyms, we spoke with experts on the importance of tummy time and the activities and toys that promote it.

“Babies began spending a much smaller amount of time on their tummies after the successful back-to-sleep campaign to minimize the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS),” explains integrative pediatrician Elisa Song, MD, founder of Whole Family Wellness in Belmont, California. “With newborns sleeping on their backs and remaining on their backs in baby swings, strollers, and car seats these days, many are missing out on the vital opportunity to spend time on their tummies to enhance their motor, visual, and sensory development.” Song advises getting newborns used to stomach time from the first day of life, which they will do until they start crawling and sitting around 6 months old — give or take.

Michelle Emanuel, a pediatric occupational therapist who is certified in the TummyTime! Method, helps her patients realize the importance of tummy time for babies. She believes it should be a key priority for parents. (Disclaimer: After minor health procedures, two of my own sons worked with Emanuel, and I learned how wonderful tummy time can be.)

There are numerous advantages to tummy time play, according to our experts. It helps babies discover colors, texture, and their orientation in space (proprioception); fosters the development of crawling and sitting skills; lengthens and extends the trunk; and prevents flat patches on the skull (plagiocephaly) caused by too much resting on the back.

Here are 10 of our favorite tummy time toys and products:

From play mats to musical toys, these are 10 tummy time must-haves for one of your baby's most crucial activities

Fisher Price Deluxe Kick and Play Piano Gym For your baby's feet, there's a piano

Tummy time allows babies to move around, and you’ll notice their arms and feet start to flap around, punching, kicking, and generally flailing around as they gain muscle control. A tummy time mat that generates noise when your baby kicks the music buttons is an excellent method to encourage them to continue kicking. This mat also serves as a back play mat, saving you money over purchasing two separate goods.
From play mats to musical toys, these are 10 tummy time must-haves for one of your baby's most crucial activities

Flappy the Animated Elephant A peek-a-boo elephant that sings

Flappy the Elephant is the one product that has consistently entertained all four of my sons during their tummy time sessions. While his ears go up and down in a peek-a-boo style game that captivates babies of all ages, one of his feet sings “Do your ears hang low?” and the other initiates a complete debate. Siblings can participate in this toy by singing and pushing buttons for the baby, which is one of the benefits of tummy time, according to Emanuel. It’s all about the family.
From play mats to musical toys, these are 10 tummy time must-haves for one of your baby's most crucial activities

Sassy Tummy Time Floor Mirror A soft, folding floor mirror that is interactive

Using a mirror during tummy time is recommended by both of our experts since the baby will interact with themselves even if they don’t realize it’s them in the reflection. “It reflects light, is pleasing to the eye, and babies enjoy looking at faces. It marks the start of their self-awareness “Emanuel explains. This choice can be folded and stored in a toy bin because it is collapsible. As the ball spins and the bee rotates and clicks, the small toys give an extra level of interaction.
From play mats to musical toys, these are 10 tummy time must-haves for one of your baby's most crucial activities

Smart Noggin Noggin Stik The ideal rattling companion

Out with the enormous rattles that don’t fit in the palm of a baby’s hand. With a face, rattle sounds, and a light-up head that helps with visual tracking, the Noggin Stik is the perfect loud buddy for your tiny one. Emanuel like a variety of Fat Brain Toys, including this one, because they are easy to draw the baby’s interest. The best part is that the bottom has a hidden mirror, making it even another “two in one” versatile toy.
From play mats to musical toys, these are 10 tummy time must-haves for one of your baby's most crucial activities

Fat Brain Toys Spinny Pins 'Bowling' pins with a weighted wobbling

The spinny pins, which are also from Fat Brain Toys, are the exact size of a baby’s grip, assisting them with dexterity as they try to grab and pick up the pieces. Emanuel enjoys that each pin has two different sizes for newborns to grasp. From tummy time, when both the babies and their siblings can push the pins around, through crawling and walking later, this is a toy that will grow with them. We’re big on toys that don’t only last a few months but keep our kids entertained for years. The color matching game is also suitable for toddlers. This toy provides the ideal cause-and-effect early experimentation tool, just when you thought your baby wouldn’t be undertaking science experiments for years.
From play mats to musical toys, these are 10 tummy time must-haves for one of your baby's most crucial activities

Tag Spin Around Glitter Drum A shimmering, spinning drum

Babies adore gleaming objects, and this one might be the gleamingest of them all. Emanuel recommends this toy because it easily rolls and has a marble within each drum, which provides an audible element to tummy time. The base is heavy enough that it won’t fall over every time the infant attempts to use it, and it’ll keep their interest for years to come, just like the rest of our recommendations.
From play mats to musical toys, these are 10 tummy time must-haves for one of your baby's most crucial activities

Dream Gro Quilted Play Mat a quilt made by your grandmother… or one like this

Emanuel hopes that every baby gets to feel the texture of a quilt during tummy time because it is the ideal thickness for this activity, according to her. It doesn’t bunch up, it’s not as rigid as the ground, and it comes in a wide range of intriguing forms and materials. If your grandmother’s handcrafted quilt isn’t available, this machine washable quilt would suffice. It’s available in three various hues and stands out due to its round shape, which is simply lovely. The patterns and motifs, as well as the textures, will appeal to babies.
From play mats to musical toys, these are 10 tummy time must-haves for one of your baby's most crucial activities

Tummy Time: Animal Parade Board Book The first book for your baby

Who says that babies can’t learn to read? They can’t, in a sense. However, they can benefit from the early benefits of reading, whether it’s through staring at the high contrast graphics in this belly time book or hearing their parents read a book to them. Emanuel explains, “This one has faces and a black and white side.” “These colors are really different. Color is visible to babies; they only need it to be brightly contrasted. Another strong contrasting color combination is red and yellow.” To make a visually intriguing object for the infant to look at and touch, just unfold tummy time books.
From play mats to musical toys, these are 10 tummy time must-haves for one of your baby's most crucial activities

Hape Penguin Musical Wobble A squirming penguin

A baby’s effort to reach out and manipulate the toy is rewarded with music by this penguin. It’s the ideal size for newborns to children aged 6 months and older. It’s a really hilarious alternative for tummy time, with tinkling sounds and a weird waddle. Keep an eye out for dogs… it looks a lot like your dog’s beloved Kong toyas, and they might think it’s a nice feast. Emanuel likes that it has eyes and makes a mild noise, and believes that kids as young as 6 weeks old would enjoy it.
From play mats to musical toys, these are 10 tummy time must-haves for one of your baby's most crucial activities

iHaHa Baby Tummy Time Water Play Mat Water mat for tummy time under the sea

This is similar to visiting an aquarium and walking across one of those awful clear bridges where you can see sharks swimming beneath you, but only for newborns. And a lot less frightening. Water play mats are filled with a tiny amount of water to simulate the sensation of lying in a water bed for babies. To keep newborns entertained, they have small toys swimming around inside. Just keep an eye out for bigger siblings, like ours, who jumped on the mat and splashed the baby while “cleaning” the living room carpeting. This mat, in particular, is the ideal size for tummy time and has easily visible animals. This one is very popular with older babies, according to Emanuel, although younger babies may require a harder surface.


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