Tummy time is essential for a baby’s development. It builds their stamina and upper arm strength.
This could be a favorite activity for many babies; they enjoy continuously pushing on their hands while their legs wiggle out of excitement.
But all babies are not the same, so while many may enjoy a good tummy time, yours may be the opposite.
Getting to realize that your baby hates tummy time can cause a little panic because this may sometimes mean something deep, but it is more common than you’d think.
What is Tummy Time?
Just as the name implies, it is a time when babies are placed on their tummies instead of their backs. It could be between 2 to 5 minutes daily for newborns but would gradually increase with their ages.
Why Babies Need Tummy Time
Tummy time is like a workout for babies where they’re placed on their tummies under the watch of an adult.
When placed in this position, babies try to push their bodies up with their upper arms.
This mini exercise helps to build their stamina and strengthen their neck, back, shoulder muscles, and head. And also makes things like rolling over, sitting up, crawling, and eventually walking easier.
Tummy time is important such that aside from building their body strength. It also reduces the risks of positional plagiocephaly, also known as the flat head syndrome, which occurs when a baby’s head flattens in a particular area due to being placed on their back.
Ideally, placing babies to sleep on their backs is the best position to avoid any occurrence of SIDs, which is why tummy time is necessary to balance out the number of hours they spend on their backs.
Why Do Babies Hate Tummy Time?
As earlier stated, tummy time is like a mini exercise for babies, and just like adult exercises, it is important but not always fun to do.
Aside from not being a fun activity, there could be other reasons like those mentioned below.
He Is Used To Laying On His Back
Your baby may have gotten used to months of being placed on his back, and easily adapting to laying on his tummy will cause a lot of difficulty for him in the first few weeks of introduction.
Discomfort is one common reason for everything your baby is protesting. If your baby is uncomfortable during nap time, it will most likely not enjoy nap times, and if it is uncomfortable during bath time, it will hate bath time.
This is the same for tummy time; if your baby is not placed comfortably, it could be a possible reason he protests against it.
Your baby may also hate tummy time if it lacks the upper arm strength to push or can’t lift its head or push up with its arms to look around.
Baby Hates Tummy Time: What To Do
Knowing the benefits of regular tummy time, it will be a cause of worry for you to realize that your baby hates tummy time, seeing that it will help him to accomplish other milestones of his first year.
As worrisome as this could be, rest assured that it is normal and common for a baby to hate tummy time.
If you have a baby that hates tummy time, there are certain things to do to improve his experience and hopefully make him enjoy tummy time.
1. Schedule the Tummy Time
Creating a schedule for everything makes it easier to achieve. Create a favorable schedule that targets specifically your baby’s happy moments.
Bringing up tummy time when your baby is hungry, tired, sleepy, or irritated will easily make him hate tummy time. Whenever he is in a good mood, the target is to place him for tummy time.
2. Place the Baby on Your Chest
This is an excellent way to get your baby to enjoy tummy time. Place your baby on your chest while facing you.
Alongside making your baby get used to tummy time, it’s a great way of bonding since he will mostly be staring into your eyes.
This is not just a great way to build his physical strength but also to make his mind alert and more conscious of your presence.
3. Distract the Baby with An Activity
It could be a toy or music, find something that catches his fancy and distract him with it. Drop a toy for him to fidget with, or use music to engage his mind while you perform for him.
This way, he’d be too distracted to notice that he’s spending time on his tummy and eventually get used to staying in that position.
4. Keep Your Baby Company
Babies generally love attention. They always want to be the center of attention and may get jealous when they see you engaged with other things.
He’d be reluctant to continue if your baby is placed on his tummy while he watches you move busily about.
Join your baby on the floor during his tummy time; aside from having your attention, it will be exciting to do the same thing you’re doing.
Leaving your baby alone during tummy time is unsafe, and the best way to watch and encourage him is to join in his tummy time.
5. Help Them Raise Their Heads
Tummy time isn’t so fun for babies because they can’t lift their heads to see what’s in front of them yet.
To help ease your baby’s frustration, place them on an incline or roll a small towel or blanket under their chest to see more clearly. This way, they won’t be completely facedown.
6. Spice Things Up
Find out what your baby enjoys and incorporate them into his tummy time. It could be things like a massage, gentle tickles, or lullabies, including it to spice things up while he’s placed on his tummy.
When Can You Start Tummy Time?
Experts have encouraged parents to start tummy time immediately. Immediately, it means in the first month of their birth, only scheduling it into different time ranges for different months.
Lay on your back and place him on your tummy for about 2 to 5 minutes daily before changing his position. This way, he gets used to tummy time easily. For newborns, tummy time could be just like napping on their tummies.
By this time, your baby is used to laying on his tummy but only for a short time daily, increasing the number of minutes he spends in his tummy.
You can do this by breaking it into sessions; for instance, the first session lasts for 5 to 10 minutes before taking a break, followed by the second session.
From 2 months and above, start encouraging your baby to move his body when placed on his tummy. Place his favorite toys on either side of his sight to encourage him to move his body.
How Long and How Often?
Aim to complete 2-5 minute chunks 8-10 times a day in the first month and at least an hour throughout the day by month three.
What to expect:
- A newborn won’t push through their arms yet, with elbows tucked in near the sides and fisted hands near their faces
- You will notice your baby’s wobbly head jerking up to look for you for a brief period of time
- The baby may fuss on the stomach. It’s okay, but don’t give up! To give your baby variety and also get them used to tummy down, try switching between all of these positions.
- Your baby may spit-up. So avoid tummy time right after a feeding to avoid spitting up.
To keep track of your child’s skills and progress, use this milestone checklist, and always consult with your pediatrician if there are concerns about your child’s motor development.
Early detection and prompt intervention by a licensed Occupational Therapist or Physical Therapist can help prevent some of these delays and disorders.
Best Positions For Tummy Time With A Newborn
1. Keeping Baby on the Chest Or Upon the Shoulder
Put your baby on your chest or up on your shoulder while sitting in a reclined position, on a couch/bed with pillows propped behind you, in a reclined position.
2. Placing Baby across Your Lap
Placing a baby across your lap with something to look at (books, black-and-white pictures, a sibling playing) is a good idea. In this position, the baby is working hard when looking at things such as light, sounds, or people.
This is a great position to sing to a baby or rub their backs gently. You can make it easier on the baby by keeping one foot flat and lifting the leg on which the baby’s head is resting by resting on the ball of your foot.
This slight incline makes it easier for the baby to lift its head. As a bonus, this is an excellent position for a gassy baby.
3. Placing Your Baby across Your Body
Place the baby across your body, face out. Some refer to this as a football hold or sleeping tiger pose.
Whatever it is, this position is cute and functional for both parent and child. The change in position benefits the baby’s sensory system. The ability to move with support benefits both the nervous and muscular systems.
The baby should be placed across your forearm and against your body. With your other arm, support the baby. This is a fun way to hold the baby in front of a mirror while still talking to her and engaging with her.
Gently place your hand’s heel under their belly. This increased pressure may aid in the removal of some of the gas bubbles. This is also an excellent position for a gassy infant.
4. Lying Close To Your Baby on the Floor
Lay very close to your baby on the floor, talk to them, and encourage his head to turn to look for you. Make large facial expressions and speak in a calm, encouraging tone to attract attention.
5. Side Lying
Place your baby on their side on the floor. Place a rolled towel, blanket, or pillow behind the back to keep the baby on their side.
Then, no more than 3 feet away from your baby, lie down on the floor. You can sing, act silly, or play with a toy.
Your baby will benefit from this position because they will be able to exercise both the front and back muscles of the body.
6. Tummy Time with a Nursing Pillow
Place your baby on a nursing pillow, arms close to the body. In front of them, place a mirror, a black and white toy, or a picture.
You can also try talking or singing to your baby while lying on the floor in front of them.
This is a great position for the baby to start working out those neck muscles, but always keep a close eye on the baby to ensure his safety.
Occasionally, turn his head to the side to breathe properly, and never leave your baby in this position unattended.
Is It Ok To Let My Baby Cry During Tummy Time?
If your baby only cries when placed on her belly on the floor, it doesn’t help if you let her cry.
We recommend you try other positions, such as carrying the baby in your arms or on her belly as you walk around the house. Spend time chest-to-chest with your baby while lying on your back.
Can Lack Tummy Time Causes Developmental Delays?
Tummy time helps children develop important cognitive and physical skills.
Mothers who do not give their babies enough tummy time may notice delays in their children learning to crawl properly. These delays can impact the child’s learning as they get older.
What Will Happen If My Baby Doesn’t Do Tummy Time?
If your baby doesn’t get enough tummy time, it may take him longer to develop certain motor skills.
For example, he may develop core strength, coordination, and balance more slowly, and it may take him longer to develop related skills such as reaching and crawling.
What If My Baby Doesn’t Lift Her Head During Tummy Time?
If your baby can’t hold his head steady by the age of 4-month, you should speak to your pediatrician.
As for what’s next in terms of milestones department? Your baby will have flexed the set of muscles she needs to master various skills, most notably sitting up, once she has had plenty of practice with tummy time.
When a baby hates tummy time, it could mean that it may take him longer to start rolling over or sitting upright because tummy time is what prepares him with the strength to do those.
But a baby doesn’t just hate anything without reason, and these possible reasons why your baby hates tummy time have been stated.
The best way to identify the reason for your baby detesting tummy time is by observation.
It may be a normal thing for him to hate tummy time in the first weeks, but if it doesn’t show signs of stopping anytime soon, practice the suggestions above, and before you realize it, tummy time will be his favorite thing to do.