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10 Best Tummy Time Toys for Babies

From play mats suitable right from birth to a scurrying crab that’s great for older babies, these are the tummy time toys that will aid in their development.
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Published
January 23, 2023
10 Best Tummy Time Toys for Babies
Image: Amazon, Target, Target | The Bump
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Shortly after bringing baby home from the hospital, you’ll want to start placing baby on their tummy for brief periods of play time. Why? Because “tummy time,” as it’s called, is crucial to developing the muscular strength that supports key milestones like holding their head up and rolling over. The thing is, babies aren’t always huge fans of tummy time. That’s where tummy time toys come in handy.

Toys for tummy time can help hold baby’s interest for longer and keep some of that fussing at bay, so you can enjoy some of your earliest moments playing together. Here, we’ll walk you through the importance of tummy time, what to look for and the best tummy time toys to choose from.

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Why Is Tummy Time Important?

Tummy time is basically a workout for baby–it engages key muscle groups and encourages gross motor skills that are necessary for baby to lift their head and master head control, roll over, sit up and crawl. Spending time on their tummy also helps avoid flat head syndrome and even help alleviate any gas pain.

Tummy time should start as soon as possible, says Marielle Marquez, OTR/L, SWC, CLEC, NTMTC, a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of Thrive Little. “It’s important to start doing tummy time on the floor before baby is a month old,” she says. “The longer you wait to start tummy time on the floor, the harder it will be for baby and the more they will likely resist. The younger you start, the more they will be used to tummy time being a part of their normal routine.”

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What Are Good Tummy Time Toys?

When it comes to choosing the best tummy time toys, look for options that capture baby’s visual or auditory interest, or inspire baby to reach for them, thereby encouraging motor skills. A play mat is a great option if you have hard flooring, and these can be used right from birth, says Marquez. “Slightly older babies with more acute vision are often enchanted by water tummy time mats, which can add an interesting element for baby and also can challenge their balance a bit.” Once baby’s strength has developed and they’re starting to scoot or crawl, a tummy time toy that moves makes a great choice, as it encourages baby’s mobility early on.

Best Tummy Time Toys to Shop

Browse this list below for the best tummy time toys you can buy today.

Best Tummy Time Mat

This adorable oversized tummy time mat offers a variety of ways to play. There’s a tummy time pillow on the animal’s belly—which can help prop baby up while they’re practicing neck control—while the face, arms and legs offer different sensory toys. Choose from a cute polar bear, sloth or unicorn, all in a soft, 100 percent washable polyester fabric. Age rating: 0 months+

Best Tummy Time Pillow

Fisher-Price Grow-with-Me Tummy Time Plush Llama
Image: Amazon

For a tummy time pal that lets baby sit up a bit higher, give this trendy little llama a try! This multifunctional toy offers three ways to play based on baby’s developmental stage: laying flat (for newborns), resting on the pillow (once baby has head control) or sitting up (for older babies). The accompanying toys provide plenty of stimulation during baby’s playtime. Age rating: 0 months+

Best Tummy Time Water Mat

Splashin'kids Inflatable Tummy Time Premium Water
Image: Amazon

There’s something totally irresistible about a play mat that’s filled with water. When you set baby up with this ocean-themed tummy time water mat, even the grumpiest little one will turn that frown upside down. This 26 by 20 inch mat features a full color background and six bright toys that will encourage baby to press, push and explore. Age rating: 3 months+

Best Tummy Time Mirror

Sassy Tummy Time Floor Mirror
Image: Amazon
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This oversized tummy time mirror toy for baby is bound to be a favorite right from birth. The black and white design makes this toy suitable for even the youngest babies, since high contrast objects are easiest for newborns and their developing vision to spot. Plus, the cute bee and rattle ball are engaging for slightly older babies. The true reflection mirror cuts down on warping while providing a safe, unbreakable tummy time toy. Age rating: 0 months+

Best Montessori Tummy Time Toy

Taf Toys Tummy Time Book
Image: Walmart

If you’re looking for a plaything to stimulate baby’s senses as they grow, look no further than a classic Montessori tummy time toy. Black and white images are often displayed in Montessori-inspired environments, since they provide stimulation for newborn vision and gives baby an opportunity to concentrate and focus. This flippable mirror toy comes equipped with two stages of play that include black and white images for newborns and colorful friends with sensory-inspired toys for older babies. The mirror is also a great way to help baby start recognizing faces. Age rating: 0 months+

Best Tummy Time Music Toy

Crawling Crab Tummy Time Toy
Image: Walmart

There’s a reason this cute tummy time crab is one of the most popular tummy time music toys out there. This crustacean actually gets up and walks, and changes direction when it encounters an obstacle. It plays music while it scurries to and fro, and even has eyes that flicker with lights. Watch as your little one delights in reaching for—and later, chasing!—this musical crab, making it a great toy that’ll grow with your child as they enter toddlerhood. Age rating: 6 months+

Best Tummy Time Light-Up Toy

Baby Einstein Glow & Discover Light Bar
Image: Amazon

The Baby Einstein Glow and Discover Light Bar takes our pick for the best tummy time light-up toy. This versatile toy bar can lay flat for tummy time or be propped up on the floor in front of baby to stimulate their senses. As baby touches the colorful sections, it lights up, providing plenty of visual enticement. Two volume levels and three different play modes—including music, animals and colors—ensure hours of entertainment. Age rating: 3 months+

Best Tummy Time Sensory Toy

Skip Hop Farmstand Tummy Time Wedge Activity Gym
Image: Target

This pastel-hued play mat is the perfect tummy time sensory toy that’s suitable from birth. The adorable farm theme features more than 10 developmental activities, including toys that crinkle, rattle and present different textures to make tummy time as stimulating as possible. And when tummy time is over, the mat rolls up and can be carried by the handle for easy transporting and storage. Age rating: 0 months+

Best Tummy Time Toy for Newborns

Fisher-Price 3-in-1 Music, Glow and Grow Gym Activity Play Mat
Image: Amazon

We love this activity mat as a tummy time toy for newborns since it features plenty of black and white patterns, which provide perfect contrast for babies right from birth. It comes with five detachable toys, including an otter that plays music and lights up, a self-discovery mirror, a rattle hedgehog, a snail teether and a crinkly rainbow. Plus, removable arches allow baby to play either on their back or on their belly. What’s more, this 30 by 30 inch playmat is an ideal place for baby to practice those early rolling skills as well. Age rating: 0 months+

Best Tummy Time Toy for Older Babies

For older babies, tummy time might now include sitting up, and possibly even stretching into a crawling position. That’s why an option that allows them to either sit up or lay down is the perfect tummy time toy for older babies. For this stage, we love this pick from Infantino. The colorful pal can be stretched out to use as a mat or coiled up to allow plenty of support for baby to practice sitting (it even has a security belt). It comes with two toys: a baby mirror and a silicone textured teether, which can be removed and repositioned depending on how you’ve arranged this cute caterpillar. Age rating: 0 months+

About the expert:

Marielle Marquez, OTR/L, SWC, CLEC, NTMTC, is a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of Thrive Little, a site that educates parents on child development. She currently works in the NICU of the outpatient therapy clinic at her local community hospital. She has a certification in neonatal massage, is a certified lactation educator and has an advanced certification in feeding and swallowing.

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