My baby hates tummy time. What should I do? Milestones

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baby on stomach tummy time
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According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies need daily time spent on their stomach to help strengthen neck muscles and prevent them from developing a flat spot on the back of their head. Unfortunately, plenty of babies seem to really dislike the practice. Here, doctor- and mom-approved tips for making tummy time more productive and, most of all, fun.

Keep Trying & Keep It Short

"Keep trying! Aim for short periods of time -- just a few minutes -- a few times per day, and then build up from there. I used to lay my baby down on her tummy, and I would lay down with her with my face close to her face and sing or make goofy faces and play peek-a-boo. Remember to never leave your baby on her tummy to sleep!" -- Maria Lombardi, DO, pediatrician at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network, Valhalla, New York

Do It When Baby's Other Needs Are Met

"Tummy time is important for infants to develop strong neck muscles. It is best to try after a diaper change or a nap. Make tummy time more fun and engaging by using music and rattles while talking to your baby. You can encourage your baby to lift his or her head more by lying on your back and putting him or her on your belly. Start with a minute or two of tummy time and increase to three to five minutes." -- Lisa Liu, MD, physician at Loyola Center for Health at Gottlieb, assistant...

"Tummy time is important for infants to develop strong neck muscles. It is best to try after a diaper change or a nap. Make tummy time more fun and engaging by using music and rattles while talking to your baby. You can encourage your baby to lift his or her head more by lying on your back and putting him or her on your belly. Start with a minute or two of tummy time and increase to three to five minutes." -- Lisa Liu, MD, physician at Loyola Center for Health at Gottlieb, assistant professor of family medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Melrose Park, Illinois

Keep Talking

"Talk to your baby! Try at least five minutes of tummy time. My son started rolling on his tummy at about five months. Just do it slowly until it's fun. In no time, your little one will try crawling."

Bring in Props

"Use toys, books, and music to try and make the experience fun. Do more frequent daily sessions to shorten the time of each session so they don't get too exhausted. I've found that they will start to tolerate longer periods of time on their tummy." 

Switch Up the Toys You're Using

"My son didn't like it at all at first. The key here is quantity: Start small, even if it's only a few seconds, a few times a day. Increase your time gradually, even if it's only a few seconds. The other thing that worked: switching up the toys in his immediate line of vision. I found that black and white toys worked the best. Another lifesaver was using a nursing pillow or something like it. I let him lie on his tummy and put his arms over the sides. He loved that! It helped with the increase in time, too."

Wear Them or Use a Mirror

"For very young infants -- newborn to 6 weeks -- tummy time is considered anything that has baby off of their head. So I've found that you can simply wear the baby in a carrier, or do tummy time while you lay down and have baby on your chest. Also, putting baby on their belly in front of a low mirror helps draw their attention."

Tell the Doctor

"I tell other parents that if your baby hates tummy time, please check with your pediatrician to make sure there isn't a hidden medical reason for the 'dislike.' My seventh child is the only one that hated tummy time. Turned out she couldn't breathe well on her tummy. She had her heart repaired three months later. Moral: Always rule out medical reasons first!"

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.