How to get Baby to Enjoy Tummy Time

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6 Simple Tips to Get Baby to Love Tummy Time

So you’ve been told that you need to do tummy time with your baby. What is tummy time? How do you do it properly? And most importantly, how do you get your baby to actually enjoy their tummy time? I’ve rounded up all the important information on tummy time for you here. Including some great tips on getting baby to actually enjoy tummy time. Read on to find out how to get started.

What exactly is Tummy Time and why is it important?

Tummy time, as the name suggests, is time that your baby spends on their tummy while they are awake and under supervision. That last part is critical as due to SIDS risks, babies should not be left on their tummies unsupervised. You should always be lay your baby down on their back to sleep, not their tummy.

Due to these recommendations, babies don’t spend nearly as much time on their tummies as they did 30 or 40 years ago. As such, babies develop flat spots on their heads (known as positional¬†plagiocephaly) from laying for too long on one spot of their head more frequently than they did when they spent more time on their tummies. Getting quality tummy time switches up the position, which can reduce the risk of developing those flat spots.

Additionally, a lack of tummy time can cause baby to have underdeveloped head, neck and shoulder muscles and motor skills and can delay motor development. Tummy time can help to bridge these gaps to reduce the risk of some of these issues.

How often and how long should you do tummy time?

Think of tummy time as your baby’s first foray into exercise! Your little one can begin practicing tummy time in short bursts from the time they come home from the hospital and can continue until they’re crawling away.

Start with small increments of just a few minutes at a time. Repeat this several times a day, building up to 15 minute sessions several times a day. As baby grows, they will be able to tolerate longer stretches on their tummy. You’ll be aiming to hit an hour of tummy time by the time your baby reaches 3 months of age. Remember that baby should always be supervised while doing tummy time.

By doing lots of quality tummy time with your baby, you’ll be giving them a great foundation to hit critical milestones such as pushing-up, rolling over and crawling.

My baby hates Tummy Time. How do I get them to enjoy it? (Or at least not cry through it)

It’s a very common reaction for infants to dislike tummy time. Until they have the necessary strength to lift up their head, they are awkwardly stuck in one place face down. Here are some of my best tips to keep baby happy (or at least moderately content if your little on is particularly fussy) during tummy time:

Try some tummy-to-tummy time

I find this tip particularly helpful for newborns who strongly dislike tummy time because they don’t yet have the strength to pick up their head. Who can blame them for hating laying on the floor when they can’t really turn their head to look at anything yet? Try putting baby directly on your tummy / chest so that they are face-to-face with you. Always remember to hold them securely so that they don’t tumble off.

As an alternative, you can also try laying baby across your lap and soothing them by tapping or rubbing their back during tummy time.

Add some entertainment

One of the best ways to keep baby happy and content through Tummy Time is to keep them entertained and distracted. At this point in their life, you’re probably one of their very favorite toys! You can try laying or sitting in front of baby and playing with them.

We purchased this tummy time mat to keep my son entertained. It fills up with water and has little fish floating around that he could play with. There are tons of toy mats and other toys designed for use during tummy time. Usually anything with a mirror makes a great option as babies love looking at human faces (especially their own).

Tummy time on a play mat
Tummy Time on a play mat

Use a Pillow as a Prop

Another great way to avoid baby from being face-down in the floor, is to prop them up with a small pillow or boppy under their chest. Make sure you stay close in case they move and start to topple over. Once your baby is a little more used to tummy time, you can then test out removing the prop.

The Play Gym by Lovevery

Timing is Everything

With babies, I’ve found timing can be everything. I used to joke that my little girl was a bomb that reset after every nap and feeding cycle. Try to do tummy time when they are in their best mood. Likely right after they wake up from a nap.

Start slow

Tummy time will be more tolerated by baby if you slowly build up to it. Most babies don’t enjoy it as first simply because they can’t see anything that is happening around them. They yet aren’t strong enough to push themselves up and look around. But that’s the point of tummy time…to get them to that point! So start with just one or two minutes at a time. Repeat that process several times a day. Each day you can add 10 secs or so to work on building up.

Switch things up

Another great way to keep your baby engaged is to rotate through some of the suggestions offered in this list or to try tummy time in new locations. Try involving siblings or cousins. Try taking tummy time outdoors if the weather is nice. Or even try tummy time in different rooms throughout your house. The change in scenery could be just enough to distract your little one through their tummy time session.

Thanks for stopping by! If you enjoyed this post you may also want to check out my post on the 5 Best Baby Bottles for Breastfed Babies. Please subscribe to my mailing list for fresh new content each week.

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