Baby Hates Tummy Time: What to Do

Most moms have heard that giving their baby tummy time is important. It's the gateway that enables babies to lift their head, roll, crawl -- in short, it opens the door to freedom! That's why doctors recommend moms have baby up on their tummy working those neck muscles right after they're born. But for many babies, the instant they're placed on their stomachs, they start to fuss and cry. Which can be frustrating -- since moms hate feeling like meanies but know tummy time is a necessary evil.


"Tummy time allows for the development of strength in the neck, stomach, arms, and legs, as well as the development of stability in the joints," says Amy Baez, a pediatric occupational therapist at Playapy. And the benefits of tummy time can be felt long past the crawling stage. "In particular, shoulder stability is important in the development of hand skills needed to complete tasks at a later age including tying shoelaces," Baez adds.

Ultimately lack of tummy time can lead to poor coordination, bad posture, hyperactivity, and difficulty with handwriting. So if those aren't enough reasons to get your kid on their stomachs, we don't know what is!

Thankfully you don't have to just leave baby on the floor to cry. There are plenty of ways to get your baby more comfortable with tummy time and maybe even like it.

Tummy time tips for moms

Try these tips to warm him up to the idea:

  1. Start early. To keep your baby from hating tummy time, get them accustomed to it as soon as possible after birth. "Even with newborns, start putting them on their stomachs as soon as you can, every time they are awake, as long as they can tolerate it," suggests Hannah Chow-Johnson, MD, a pediatrician at Loyola University Health System.
  2. Lay baby on your lap. Since baby may feel more comfortable on their stomachs on top of you, try placing your newborn across your lap. Another option: Lie on your back and play your baby on her tummy on your chest for some snuggly face time.
  3. Keep it short. In the beginning, there's no need for long, drawn-out tummy time torture if your baby isn't into it. Aim for at least a few minutes, two or three times a day. Once the baby is 3 to 4 months old, some research suggests aiming for a total of 20 minutes of tummy time per day.
  4. Entice with toys and mirrors. "When babies start pushing up, use toys with mirrors so they can see their face," suggests Dyan Hes, MD, Medical Director of Gramercy Pediatrics. "Activity mats also help babies to enjoy time on their tummies. Make sure that tummy time is only on a firm, flat surface, and that there is nothing soft or that babies can put their faces in."

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  5. Prop baby up with pillows. "You can also create a comfortable environment using pillow or cushions to provide support," says Baez. Place cushions under baby's armpits, which will help him raise his upper body. 
  6. Get down on the floor yourself. Think about it: it's boring looking at feet. So get down on the floor yourself! Baby will love the company.
  7. Never leave a baby alone. Tummy time should be a supervised activity. So be sure to keep an eye on your baby the entire time.

What are your best tummy time tips for other moms?


Images © Radius Images/Corbis; © unruh       

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