Baby development

What is Upside-Down Tummy Time?

Mix up your baby’s workout routine with this new take on tummy time.

What is Upside-Down Tummy Time?

Source: Getty

Being a newborn is tough. Babies start out all squished up in the womb, then are forcibly squeezed out of their cozy home. And that’s just day one of being out in the world.

Soon, they’re expected to strengthen their muscles and start lifting their head. No wonder they scream when tummy time starts.

Pediatric occupational therapist Kaili Ets says that baby’s refusal to do tummy time could actually be about stiff muscles along the front of their bodies from being in the fetal position for so long.

new baby being held sleeping Source: Getty

What’s upside-down tummy time?

That’s when upside-down tummy time comes in. Also called gravity pose, upside-down tummy time helps your baby stretch the muscles of their chest and neck.

“The reason we want to get babies into this position is because that really scrunched up position in utero, or contractions and getting stuck in the birth canal can lead to some body tightness in the front of the body,” says Ets. 

This tightness can make traditional tummy time uncomfortable for baby, because as Ets says, they’ll just want to curl up into fetal position when placed on their belly. Upside-down tummy time helps relieve tightness and open up the front of the body.

Ets says that this pose is also great for babies who get rashes in the folds of their necks because it allows some air circulation—and gives you an opportunity to wipe away any dried milk or formula.

mom laying down with baby on her chest Source: Getty

How to do upside-down tummy time

  • To do upside-down tummy time, sit on a soft surface like the floor or a mattress.
  • Place baby on their back across your thighs with their head hanging slightly off the edge of one leg.
  • Their neck should follow the curve of your thigh.
  • For a mild stretch, bring your knee up so your leg is more vertical. 
  • Baby will get a bigger stretch if your legs are flat on the surface beneath you.
  • For even more muscle development, hold a toy in front of baby’s face and move it from one side to another, encouraging them to look 90 degrees to the right and left.
Author: Kaili Ets is lovingly known as the Holistic Baby Guru. She has a passion for normalizing and bringing clarity around baby sleep, development, reflux, and more. Wife and mom of two, Kaili understands the importance of trusting your mama instincts. She is on a mission to help mamas tune into their intuition and feel like the confident super moms they are. Her wit and humor make her an approachable authority on all things baby-related, as she provides down-to-earth advice that makes everyone feel like they can do this parenting thing! You can find her at or on IG/FB @theholisticbabyguru
This article was originally published on Apr 13, 2023

Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with your baby's development, get the latest parenting content and receive special offers from our partners

I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time.