Tummy time is so important for newborns and infants, but what if your baby hates tummy time?
If you’re one of the lucky ones with a baby who screams and cries anytime you attempt tummy time, don’t worry. You’re not alone. And we can help!
If your baby is around 6 months old, it’s likely that they will start crawling pretty soon, which will also exercise and strengthen those neck and upper body muscles. So don’t totally panic. But there are also things that you can do to help your baby get more comfortable with tummy time. They may even start to enjoy it!
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Why Is Tummy Time Important For Babies?
Experts agree that tummy time is a critical aide in strengthening your baby’s neck and upper body muscles. This helps them reach their physical milestones such as the “mini-pushups” that babies can typically do around 4 months. This is where they can hold their head and chest up, while supporting themselves with their elbows.
According to Mayo Clinic, “placing a baby on his or her stomach only while awake and supervised — can help your baby develop strong neck and shoulder muscles and promote motor skills. Tummy time can also prevent the back of your baby’s head from developing flat spots (positional plagiocephaly).”
Common Question: When Do Babies Hold Head Up?
Healthline Parenthood explains that all of the head lifting down between birth and 3 or 4 months old is getting them ready for the real deal. They say “By 6 months, most babies have gained enough strength in their neck and upper body to hold their head up with minimal effort. They can usually also turn their head easily from side to side and up and down.”
When Should You Start Tummy Time?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics you can start tummy time with your baby the day they come home from the hospital. Every baby is different, so use your judgement and always consult with your pediatrician if you have any questions.
If you start tummy time early on, it may help avoid having a baby that hates tummy time because they will be acclimated to it from the beginning. So this may save you a lot of headache! Start slow. So just do 2-3 sessions a day, starting at only 2-4 minutes at a time. Then just work your way up.
Eventually you’ll want to aim for around 30 minutes of tummy time per day. But you can separate the sessions throughout the day if your baby doesn’t like it.
Common Question: Does Holding A Baby Count As Tummy Time?
Holding your baby chest to chest in an up-right position does have benefits and helps your baby in similar ways that tummy does does, but it’s not enough. According to U.S. News – Health, “Chest-to-chest time with a parent does count as tummy time, but remember it is resistance against a firm surface that assists in muscle development. That’s very hard to accomplish when your child is lying on your chest.”
What To Do When Your Baby Hates Tummy Time
If your baby hates tummy time, rest assured that your baby is not the only one! Here are some tricks to help make the experience more comfortable for your baby.
Top 10 Tips For Babies That Hate Tummy Time
Tip #1: Lay Baby Tummy-Down On Your Chest And Do Sit-Ups
Work on your ab muscles while your baby works on their neck and upper body muscles! This is a good trick to try early on when your baby is still really small and new to tummy time. While they’re laying on your chest (tummy-down) do some sit ups. And throw in some funny faces and noises to get them intrigued.
Tip #2: Get On Their Level
Don’t make your baby go at it alone. Lay down on your stomach next to them, or face to face. Sing them songs, and make funny faces to get their attention. Give them a reason for wanting to lift that heavy head up!
Tip #3: Make It A Fun Time!
Don’t make tummy time feel like a chore. There’s a lot of things available that help make tummy time fun for babies! So check out some of these mom and baby favorites:
Premium Tummy Time Water Mat – This highly rated and best selling tummy time mat is a top choice for a lot of moms. You just fill the outer edges with air, and then fill the middle with your desired level of tap water. It’s a lot like a sensory bag. So in addition to helping to get your baby get excited about tummy time, it also helps with their fine motor skills.
Tummy Time Mat With Prop and Toys – This tummy time mat is nice because it’s an all-inclusive deal. It has the soft surface for baby to lay on, a prop pillow to make tummy time easier for beginners, and a mirror and toys to get your baby interested in lifting their head up, and keeping it lifted for periods of time.
Tummy Time Activity Gym – This best selling tummy time activity gym is a no brainer. It has 4 ways to play as your baby grows. In addition, it has learning content that changes with baby’s age and stage with 3 “Smart Stages” learning levels. And it has a piano play mode, with a keyboard that has 5 light-up keys which you can remove for on-the-go fun. There’s 5 repositionable toys including: mirror, elephant teether, crinkle panda, lion rattle, and monkey cymbals. Definitely check this out to get your baby to enjoy tummy time.
Tip #4: Switch Up The Scenery
Are you always doing tummy time in the same spot? If so, try switching up locations. You could even try taking a blanket outside in your yard, or to a nearby park. The new view may help to stimulate your baby’s brain and get them interested to lift their heads and look around. Similar to how the toys help, it gives them something to concentrate on, which helps them forget about how miserable they think tummy time is. Think about when you’re doing a work out. Do you work out in silence, or do you have music or tv playing?
Tip #5: Observe
When your baby is putting in the work during daily tummy time, make sure you’re keeping a close eye on them. This is for safety reasons, but it can also help you to decipher what is causing your little one to struggle. Maybe whenever they are trying to lift their head up they are slipping around the mat and you need a less slippery surface. Or maybe they need to be barefoot because their socks are making them loose their grip.
Tip #6: Use An Exercise Ball
This is a tummy time hack that I came across when my baby was hating tummy time. Get an exercise ball like this one. Then you lay your baby tummy down on the ball. And just roll the ball forward and back. Roll it back to where their little feet touch the ground, then roll it forward so they are laying right on top and horizontal. As always, make fun noises and funny faces to keep them entertained. Also, make sure you have a good hold on them at all times. This trick worked wonders for me and my stubborn little one! She actually thought it was fun. Then from building her muscles through this exercise, tummy time on the floor became more comfortable and enjoyable!
Tip #7: Start Early
If you’re reading this post a little late to the game and the “start early” ship has long sailed away…don’t worry. Just focus on the other tips and tricks and you’ll be just fine. But if you are reading this in time…start tummy time early. Talk to your pediatrician about any concerns, but the earlier the better. Once you get settled at home from the hospital, start introducing your baby to tummy time for very short periods at a time. Two to three sessions a day, two to three minutes a piece will be a great start! Getting started with tummy time early can help avoid a baby who hates it later.
Tip: 8: Use A Tummy Time Prop
Starting out right on the flat floor may be too intimating for some babies. Try using this Boppy Tummy Time Prop Pillow. It also has a couple tummy time toys attached which can also be helpful.
Tip #9: Consider Reflux
If your baby experiences reflux (frequent spit ups after feeding), they will likely face bigger struggles with tummy time. You can help your baby with reflux feel more comfortable by waiting at least 30 minutes after feeding before attempting any tummy time. Again, do small increments of time to start. Just a few a minutes at a time, then roll them on their left side and let them rest.
Tip #10: Comfort Them
If your baby cries during tummy time, rather then picking them up right away, try doing somethings to comfort them instead. Rub their back, sing soothing songs, etc. And remember that it is totally okay to only do short sessions at a time. This, in addition to the other tips outlined in this article will help your baby adjust to tummy time and build up those muscles.
Start implementing these tips if your baby hates tummy time and you’ll start seeing improvements pretty quickly!
The important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t give up, even when things get frustrating! Just follow the tips, try different things to see what works for your baby, and keep at it. Practicing tummy time will help ensure your baby meets their physical milestones and stays on track. So you got this mama!