Tips on Making Tummy Time More Tolerable for Your Baby

Tummy time is a baby’s first exercise, and it’s definitely an important and exciting one to help with early growth and development. This exercise involves placing your baby on their tummy for short periods of time throughout the day. But not all babies will enjoy being placed in this awkward, face-down position right away! To help you make tummy time fun for both yourself and your baby, here’s our guide on the benefits of tummy time and some tips for success.

Why is tummy time important?

Since babies spend so much on time on their backs throughout the day (while sleeping, riding in prams, during nappy changes, etc.), tummy time lets them explore the world in a new position and develop their head, neck, and upper body muscles. This muscle development will help them start to roll, sit up, crawl and stand.

When should I start tummy time?

Your baby can start tummy time as soon as they get home from the hospital. You’ll want to start with just 1-2 minutes per day, and then work your way up 10-15 minutes, several times per day. With a newborn, you may want to start tummy time on your chest and as they get a bit stronger, move it to the floor.

What should I do if my baby hates tummy time?

While some babies may simply enjoy the view during tummy time, others may not take to it right away (and they’ll surely let you know with some protests!). If your baby seems to hate tummy time, don’t give up on the exercise. Instead, try each of these tips during tummy time to see which one/s make tummy time a little more enjoyable for your little one! As they get stronger and stronger, you’ll likely face less tears.

Stop when they cry

Tummy time should be fun for babies, so if they start to cry, it’s time to try some different positions or distractions like toys, singing, or rubbing their back. However, you don’t want your baby to start associating negatively with tummy time, so if the cries continue, you can take them out of tummy time and try again later.

Take tummy time to new locations

Trying tummy time in a new location could make it more exciting for your baby! For example, if they’re used to being in the living room and have seen everything they need to see, going outside and exploring new sights, sounds, and smells could ignite more of an interest in tummy time.

Try new tummy time positions, other than on the floor

Being left face-down on the floor can be uncomfortable for babies. Luckily there are many other positions for tummy time that could make the experience more enjoyable.

On your tummy: Either lay flat on your back or reclined in a chair and hold your baby across your stomach/chest so that you’re face-to-face.

Across your legs: Whilst sitting on the couch or in a chair, lay your baby across your legs and place a hand on their back to secure them.

Across your forearm: Hold your baby on your forearm and against your body. This is sometimes referred to as a football hold.

Go face-to-face: Laying down on the floor in front of your baby during tummy time can help soothe them. You can even have an older sibling take your place for this to help strengthen their sibling bond.

Keep plenty of toys and other items around

With enticing toys around them during tummy time, babies will hopefully start to try to look around and reach for them, which will help develop the muscles needed for crawling. They’ll also use more eye muscles if they have things to look around at.

Mirrors: Place a baby mirror (one that isn’t breakable) in front of your baby, so they can see their face. Move the mirror around them, so they have to look around to see themselves.

Black & White Photos: Babies are drawn to high-contrast, black-and-white images. Either place multiple images around your baby or hold one and slowly move it around to see if they’ll follow the image with their eyes or head.

Sensory Activities: Water play mats, musical mats, no-mess finger painting mats, and other types of toys where babies reach for and move around items will bring more fun to tummy time and might encourage them to hold themselves up for longer.

Roll baby into and out of tummy time

If you start to see your baby becoming frustrated, don’t be too quick to stop tummy time completely. You can roll your baby into tummy time to still get some short moments of exercise and then roll them back before they get upset.

Support them with a towel

If your baby seems to be struggling with tummy time, try placing a rolled up towel under their chest/armpits to ease the strain a little bit. This way they’ll have some extra mobility which might make tummy time more bearable. As they get stronger, the towel can be lowered or removed.

Tummy Time Safety Reminders

Back to sleep, tummy to play

While being on their tummies is great during playtime, babies should always be placed on their backs to sleep to reduce the risk of SIDS. 

Always supervise during tummy time

Be sure to always supervise your baby during tummy time. You’ll need to be watching to make sure they stay safe and don’t fall asleep.

Final Thoughts on Tummy Time

Tummy time is a great time to bond with your baby and watch them meet exciting milestones. With these tips and tricks, your baby should be more accepting of this exercise in no time! And soon enough, they will be rolling, sitting up, and crawling all on their own with their newly developed muscles thanks to consistent tummy time.

Tags: Parent's Corner