The 9 Best Tummy Time Toys to Buy in 2018

Help distract them while they get their daily exercise

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From the first time they put their infants on their bellies for tummy time, parents usually become painfully aware that it’s not their baby’s favorite activity. Babies often fuss and cry during tummy time, much to their parents’ frustration. But spending time on their front side is crucial to babies’ physical development, as it strengthens their neck, helps them to lift and support their head, reduces the risk of developing a flat spot on the back of their head (positional plagiocephaly), increases their independence, encourages sensory integration, and promotes development of gross motor and fine motor skills. 

Supervised tummy time should start as soon as baby comes home from the hospital, starting with three to five minutes of tummy time two to three times each day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. As babies grow older and stronger, they need more time on their bellies to build their own strength, so the amount of tummy time should be increased about five to 10 minutes each month.

While tummy time can be broken up into several smaller sessions, parents may still be frustrated to find that their baby protests when he’s on his belly. Research suggests that giving a baby access to a stimulating toy during tummy time can decrease their fussing. If you place toys in a circle around your baby, she’ll start to develop and use the appropriate muscles to reach the toys by rolling, scooting, and crawling. With time, practice, and the right stimulation, babies will eventually enjoy their playtime on their bellies.

Here are some of the top tummy time toys to increase babies’ enjoyment and aid in their cognitive and motor skills development.

Our Top Picks

1

Best Overall: Baby Einstein 5-in-1 World of Discovery Learning Gym

Baby Einstein 5-in-1 World of Discovery Learning Gym

Courtesy of Target

With activities and toys for baby’s different development stages, this activity center gets our top pick for its innovative design, versatility, quality, and value. A perfect play mat for young babies, it features hanging toys, a mirror, and a prop pillow to support them. The toys feature different textures to encourage tactile exploration.

The gym also plays 20 minutes of global-themed music to keep baby entertained. Once your baby can sit and play, you can fold up the sides to create a ball pit, so she’s contained as she plays with the 10 colorful balls.

Although it’s packed with toys and activities, this activity center is lightweight and easy to fold up and transport if you need to move to another room or take it on a road trip. It’s ideal for parents who are looking for a quality gym that’s reasonably priced and suitable for the first couple years of baby’s life.

2

Best Play Mat: Bright Starts Tummy Time Prop and Play Mat

Rather than just putting your baby down on a carpet or blanket, tummy time mats provide a soft surface and feature colorful patterns and toys to entertain your baby. The Bright Starts Tummy Time Prop and Play Mat is a plush, quilted mat that comes with a baby-safe mirror, rattle, teether, and other toy attachments.

The prop pillow is perfect for added tummy time support for newborns and infants. The mat is trimmed in satin tags, which allow for soothing and tactile development. Unlike some larger play mats or activity centers, this one isn’t too expansive, so it won’t take up a lot of floor space in a small room and it’s easy to toss in your bag for visits to grandparents. It’s also very reasonably priced and machine washable, so it’s a cinch to clean.

3

Best Ball: VTech Lil' Critters Roll and Discover Ball

While any simple ball can provide entertainment during baby’s tummy time, this plush one from VTech features bright colors and characters, cheerful music, sounds, and different textures, all in one ball. Babies can roll, shake or toss it while strengthening their motor skills. The ball has a motion sensor that triggers sounds and phrases, so babies will be encouraged to move it around.

Perfect for babies aged 6 months to 2 years, this plush ball has soft tags and textures for babies to grab and touch as they work on their tactile development.

4

Best Rattle: Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether Toy

This award-winning rattle is touted as a “must-have” by many parents. Its lightweight design and mesmerizing maze of continuous, soft tubes make it easy for little hands to hold and shake. The bright colors and the quiet, pleasing rattle sound will also capture baby’s attention. This toy is suitable for newborns, but the soft, BPA-free loops are also perfect for gumming and teething babies.

5

Best Mirror: Sassy Floor Mirror

As they grow and their vision develops, babies love to look at faces. A mirror can be a perfect distraction during tummy time, as your baby becomes enamored with the other little person in the mirror. When placing a mirror in your baby’s play area, it’s important that you choose one that’s made especially for babies. The Sassy Floor Mirror has a soft frame that’s safe for baby, even if she pulls it down on herself. It also features a spinning ball ladybug and a rotating, clicking bee to engage baby’s curiosity and develop his tactile and visual skills.

6

Best With Music: Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Toy

Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Toy

Courtesy of Walmart

Music is a good distraction when babies are being fussy during tummy time and this best-selling Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy is perfect for baby’s introduction to musical toys. Infants will be delighted by the colorful lights that move with the music’s rhythm. As they develop, they can use the large button to toggle through seven baby-friendly classical masterpieces from Vivaldi to Mozart.

The lightweight design and the caterpillar handle makes it easy for little hands to grasp and play with. Parents appreciate the volume control and love that their little ones will continue to enjoy this toy in their toddler years when they can bring it along for car rides and stroller walks.

7

Best Water Mat: Infantino Pat and Play Water Mat

While they flex their tummy time muscles, they'll also be working on their sensory skills as the touch this water mat that looks like an aquarium. Baby can touch the squishy soft texture and watch as the fish float around. Parents will have to fill this with water but the toy is BPA-free and suitable for children ages 3 months and up. Once baby starts eating this also makes a great toy for the high chair.

8

Best Electronic: Baby Einstein Glow & Discover Light Bar Toys

For a baby that really fights tummy time, using the power of electronics might just be the thing to keep them entertained. This favorite from Baby Einstein will stimulate their sensory skills while also helping distract them from the task at hand. The buttons light up when baby touches the buttons, and this can speak in English, Spanish, and French. When the baby is working on tummy time this toy will lie flat for them and once they start sitting this can be propped up for lots of fun. This toy is suitable for children ages 3 months and up. 

9

Best Pillow: Infantino Prop-A-Pillar Tummy Time & Seated Support

The addition of a pillow can take tummy time from grueling to bearable because a pillow helps keep baby at a more comfortable angle. As they get used to this position you can eventually take the pillow out from under their arms or rotate between using it or not. You can use this pillow from birth on up and it also comes with two toys including a mirror to engage them more. Once baby starts sitting up, this can be converted to a seat which will help them work on their core muscles in a different way. 

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