How to Introduce Tummy Time to a Three-Week-Old

Since the American Academy of Pediatrics instituted the “back to sleep” policy for babies to reduce sudden infant death syndrome, tummy time has become especially important for little ones 1. Spending time playing on her tummy gives your baby an opportunity to build strength, which prepares her muscles for crawling when she gets older 2. Even a 3-week-old newborn is not too young for some supervised tummy time 2.

Wait until your newborn’s umbilical cord stump dries and falls off, if you have concerns about irritation, advises 2. The typical time frame for the umbilical cord stump falling off is between nine and 15 days, with up to three weeks being within normal parameters, states the AAP. Waiting to place your baby on his tummy until after the umbilical cord stump falls off may minimize irritation from rubbing and pressure.

Spread a soft blanket on the floor to provide a clean surface for tummy time.

Place your baby gently on her tummy on the blanket.

Stay near your baby and talk to him. Get down on the floor with your little one so he can see you. Say your baby’s name to engage with him. Shake a baby toy (like a rattle) to give your little one something to see and hear while he’s on his tummy.

Leave your baby on her tummy for three to five minutes at a time, advises the AAP 2. Sometimes newborns object to tummy time, so she may cry. Over time and with consistent time on her tummy, your baby will probably acclimate to it and tolerate it positively 2.

Pick your baby up and calm him down, if he was fussing while on his tummy. Distract his attention away from crying by showing him something colorful or engaging.

Repeat tummy time two to three times every day, spacing it out over the course of the day, suggests the AAP.


Always supervise tummy time to keep your baby safe.

Protect your baby from pets and people while she's on her tummy to ensure that no one steps on her.