How to get your baby to enjoy tummy time
Does your baby cry at tummy time?
It’s so hard motivating yourself to do something with your baby when they react so badly to it every single time.
Unfortunately your baby really needs you to do this with them. Luckily there are lots of things you can do to make tummy time easier.
Related posts: Fine motor skills activities for babies
Why does your baby need tummy time
The trouble with tummy time is, it’s really important to do it every single day. But many babies absolutely hate it!
The thing is though, your baby really needs that daily tummy time. It strengthens the muscles your baby will need to use for physical skills such as sitting up and rolling over.
When can you start tummy time
Your baby can start doing tummy time from day one!
Start simple, with your baby laying on their tummy, on your chest. You can do this while lying down on the sofa.
When should you do tummy time with your baby?
Be sure that your baby is awake and happy – for example they have fed and been burped.
An overtired baby is less likely to respond well to tummy time!
The NHS suggests babies will benefit from 20 to 30 minutes of tummy time every day. However you’ll need to spread this out over several sessions.
Try to avoid doing tummy time immediately after a feed, as it may cause your baby to bring up their milk.
In the early weeks, simply put your baby on your chest for tummy time. This way you know they are supported on a firm surface and they are more likely to respond well, as they are close to you.
As they get older and are more engaged with the world around them, bring in toys and distractions to help!
Here are some great tips to keep your baby happy at tummy time:
1. Use a mirror
Babies are fascinated by their own reflection. They will gaze at themselves and be amazed that when they flap their arm, their reflection does the same thing too.
A mirror could be propped up in front of them, which encourages your baby to lift their head and exercise their neck muscles.
You could also have mirrors flat on the ground in front of your baby as they get older, this can encourage them to lift themselves up a little more with their arms to look down.
If you just have a simple mirror, you can hold this in front of your baby so they can see it.
2. Put them on your tummy
Babies love being close to you. Lay down on the floor or on the sofa and lay your baby on your tummy and chest.
3. Get an activity gym
An activity gym is perfect for tummy time. The mats tend to be soft, but remain firm which is just the surface you need for this activity.
Many activity gyms will have different textures and colours on the mat to engage your baby so they have plenty to look at while having a fidget around on the floor.
When your baby starts to gear up for rolling over, an activity gym can be great for encouraging this as many have things hanging from above to catch your baby’s attention.
4. Put toys just out of their reach
Get some of your baby’s favourite toys and put them just out of your little one’s reach.
5. Try a rolled up blanket under their armpits
Get a soft, not too large, blanket and roll it up. Pop this under your baby’s chest, so that it sits under their armpits.
Many babies find this more comfortable, especially if they have silent reflux as it keeps them slightly propped up at an angle.
Of course some do not prefer it, so it’s really a case of trying and seeing what works for you.
6. Switch location
If your baby is fussing a lot at tummy time, they could be bored where you are.
Try taking them out into your garden if it’s a nice day and put a blanket down on the grass for them to try tummy time on.
7. Read your baby a book
Distract your baby from getting too upset during tummy time with a book. Hold it up in front of their head, so they need to lift their face up to see the pictures.
8. Try short, frequent sessions
Divide up the 30 minutes of daily tummy time into short two or three minute stints of time.
9. Lie on your tummy too
Get down on the floor with your baby and lay in front of them on your tummy time.
You could also get older siblings to join in as well.
10. Try a new toy
See if something new gets your baby’s attention. It could be something simple like a kitchen utensil, or maybe tapping a wooden spoon against a pan gently to make a sound.
This is another good distraction technique.
11. Hold your baby on your forearm
This is a good position for younger babies and is sometimes called the colic hold. Try doing this sitting down on the floor or a sofa for your own comfort. Make sure your baby’s head is supported.
12. Keep trying new things
Your baby may find a song they love to hear during tummy time, or they might prefer not to have their arms trapped underneath them.
Keep on trying brand new things to see what your baby prefers. Some babies might prefer to have no clothes on during tummy time! See what works for your baby.
13. Accept that some days it just won’t happen
Some days your baby may be fussy from the moment they wake up. On days like this, doing a full 30 minutes of tummy time feels impossible.
Do not panic.
If you miss just one day of tummy time, the world will not end. Your baby will still be able to pick up on all of the crucial physical skills from their exercise on other days.
If they are too upset, for whatever reason, don’t force the issue.
We all have off days where nothing goes to plan. The trick is to embrace it and go with the flow.