Advice on laying babies on their backs or tummies

by Dawn Kelly. Time on their tummy and back is good for your baby's general development and mobility.

Two babies; one playing with hanging mobile


Before babies can sit up by themselves, they spend a fair amount of time on their backs - they sleep on their backs, lie on their backs in the buggy or pram and recline back in their car seat.

Babies also need some tummy time. They need to use a variety of muscles to aid their general development and mobility.

Many babies have a flat area at the back of their heads due to spending lots of time on their backs. Whilst this is totally okay, some time on their tummies can help alleviate the issue - plus being on their front now and then makes life a bit more interesting!

How CBeebies can help

Older babies may find programmes like Waybuloo or Boogie Beebies great fun to watch and copy.

Waybuloo features some pre-school aged children trying out yoga-style movements - but there's no reason why an older baby couldn't have a go at some of the more basic movements. And they'll love watching and trying to copy you if you're having a go at the movements too

Similarly with Boogie Beebies - if you're dancing along to the music, your baby will find it so much more fun!

How to make a magic moment

Get down with your baby. Lie down on your tummy next to your baby and explore the world on their level. You can play with a couple of bright, cheery toys or - remembering the fact that babies adore your face - you could simply smile at your baby and pull some silly faces.

For older babies, you could be a climbing frame. Encourage them to crawl on you. If you wriggle or bounce whilst they're climbing this will encourage them to use their balancing skills too (and exercise their giggling muscles!).

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Expert opinion

I must confess that I love those floor mat-style baby gyms with the arches going overhead and various toys dangling down.

Babies try to stretch up and grab at the toys then examine the toy closely, manipulating it in their hands. They then try to use the toy as leverage to roll themselves over or even pull themselves up, generally increasing their mobility to connect with objects.

Dawn Kelly, Baby & Child Development Expert, (RGN, RSCN, BSc, PGDipHV, PGDipEd, RNT, PGDipRes)

Top tips

  • Young babies may only be able to spend a few minutes on their tummies so help them change position when they get fed up.Try to give your baby lots of opportunities for floor play on their tummy and back - it's much better for them than being in a baby seat all the time.Toys such as baby gyms can be very useful for your baby to lie under whilst attempting to reach the toys that dangle down. But always ensure that your baby is in a safe area and there's nothing hazardous they can reach or grab.

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