10 Tricks You Must Try If Your Baby Hates Tummy Time!

By Paula McLaren •  Updated: 04/19/22 •  9 min read  •  Baby » Baby Development

​​We all know that tummy time is a really important exercise for young babies…

It teaches them to strengthen their neck muscles so that they can lift their heads and look around, which is the first step toward sitting up and eventually crawling, standing and walking. 

However, if you’ve clicked on this article… Then your baby hates tummy time and you are at a loss as to what you can do to help them!

Well, the good news is that there are many ways in which you can encourage your baby to enjoy tummy time and make it a fun part of their routine without any tears!

And even if you are at a complete dead-end, there are alternative activities to try!

So let’s get started!

Tummy Time For Babies Who Hate It

As I briefly mentioned earlier, the whole reason why we put our babies on their tummies is for them to strengthen their neck and shoulder muscles in preparation for rolling over, sitting and crawling. 

And babies who spend more time practising these skills tend to do better later on as toddlers, so it’s really important that your baby gets plenty of practice during this stage of development

Now, this article is an in-depth guide to helping babies who hate tummy time learn to love it.

However, if you prefer to watch videos instead of reading posts, here’s a quick video I made about tummy time and how to encourage even the fussiest babies to engage in tummy time and its alternative activities!

And for those of you who enjoy a good ol’ juicy blog post, here’s a more in-depth read explaining how to make tummy time and its alternative activities fun for all babies!

When To Start Tummy Time

I do not believe in giving exact times for baby activities as every baby is different and will be able to do as much as they can…

However, when it comes to tummy time, little and often is best, and even your newborn can start tummy time by lying on your chest and looking up at you for short periods of time.

From there, you can work on moving to the floor and gradually building tummy time up to about 15 minutes a day in 2-3 sessions depending on how your baby reacts to being placed face down. 

As your baby gets older, tummy time sessions can then become longer.

Make sure that you pick a time in the day when your baby is not too tired as then you have more chance of them embracing the activity and ensure that you never do tummy time after a feed your baby will be very uncomfortable if you do!

10 Tricks To Try When Your Baby Hates Tummy Time

So now we know the basics of timings for tummy time, we can begin to address the issue of your baby not wanting to do tummy time!

Again, this a not uncommon and many babies take a while to learn to enjoy tummy time.

So here are my top 10 tips to help your baby learn to love tummy time!

10 Things To Do When Baby Hates Tummy Time

1. Little And Often Is The Key

As I mentioned earlier if your baby hates tummy time then make sure that you are introducing it little and often.

A lot of short periods in the tummy position several times a day will gradually get them used to looking at the world from this perspective.

2. Create A Book Wall

Make tummy time interesting by making a wall of tummy time books for them to focus on.

These books are ideal because they can be propped up to grab your baby’s interest and get them lifting their head and shoulders!

My Favourite
Taf Toys Koala Infant Tummy Time Flip-Book With Baby-Safe Mirror

This beautiful flip-the-page tummy time book will keep your baby's attention during the entire play session! With high contrast colours, a baby-safe mirror and lots of wonderful pictures on every page, it is perfect for every tummy time session!

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3. Have Lots Of Toys On The Floor

Putting lots of interesting toys on the floor around them when they are spending time on their tummy will distract them from feeling uncomfortable and motivate them to develop their fine and gross motor skills.

Tummy time mirrors and soft toys are the ideal toys to start off with.

Our Pick
Sassy Tummy Time Floor Mirror | Developmental Baby Toy

We all know the importance of tummy time and there is no better way to keep your baby engaged during this essential activity than with a tummy time mirror. This one from Sassy is sturdy but soft and has a large good quality mirror that is guaranteed to grab baby's attention. It also comes in a black and white colourway.

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4. Use A Prop

Some babies find a tummy prop helps in the early days of tummy time.

You can use a rolled towel or blanket and put it under the chest with their arms out in front.

Muslin Baby Towel Super Soft Cotton 2 Pack (40 x 40 inches) (White)

Made from 6-layers of pure cotton, this thickening design makes these towels incredibly soft, comfortable and moisture absorbing. Hypoallergenic, breathable, durable and reusable, these towels are perfect for use on baby's delicate skin in every situation!

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5. Get An Activity Gym Or Tummy Time Mat

Another great tip for when your baby has to spend time on their tummy is to place them on an activity or tummy time mat. Different textures and patterns to look at will help them get used to the tummy time position.

Baby's First Tummy Time Mat
Bright Starts Tummy Time Prop & Play Activity Mat - Polar Bear

With this cushioned tummy time mat, your little one will have the cosiest space to support all their wiggles and kicks. Including a cute prop-up pillow, plush seal, baby-safe mirror and silk tags, this adorable mat will help every newborn love tummy time!

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We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

6. Increase Tummy Time Very Slowly

Take it slow! If your baby is struggling with spending time on their tummy then build up the time spent on their belly gradually.

Start with a minute or two a day and gradually increase to longer periods several times a day.

7. Lie Tummy To Tummy

Laying your baby on your tummy can often help reluctant tummy timers.

Being in contact with you may make it easier for them to adjust to being in this position and looking up to you will make them feel safer and secure.

8. Be Creative With Locations

Put your little one on their tummy whenever you can during normal daily activities.

You can put them briefly on their tummy before or after you change their nappy.

Or you can place them face down over your lap when you burp them or are wrapping them in a towel after a bath before bedtime

9. Get Down To Their Level

Having you down on the floor with them will be a great motivator for your little one to lift their head and take a look around.

Get down on your tummy, make eye contact and play away!

10. Offer Alternative Activities That Develop The Same Muscles

If your baby is truly hating tummy time and none of the above tricks have helped, you can offer them alternative activities to help them develop the same muscles.

These activities include holding your baby in the upright position against your chest and supporting their necks gently. This will allow them to gaze at the world from the comfort of your arms.

You can also lay them across your lap when you are burping them or even carry your baby in the face-down position along your arm when you are walking around the room.

All of these positions can be used as alternatives to tummy time, so do not worry if your baby is really hating being on their tummy, just start with these positions and gradually work up to more traditional tummy time activities.

My Baby Hates Tummy Time And Is Getting A Flat Head. What Do I Do?

If you notice your baby is developing a flat head, there are several things you can do.

Of course, tummy time is the natural opposite of being on their back, however, if your baby really hates tummy time, you will need alternatives.

Therefore you can engage your baby in face-to-face time.

Face-to-face time is as important as tummy time and it will help your baby to develop their neck muscles.

Support your baby in front of you, face-to-face and engage in direct eye contact.

If they are happy and settled they will follow your eyes to the side and while keeping eye contact, they will turn their head to see you. 

What Happens If You Don’t Do Tummy Time?

If you decide not to let your baby have tummy time it may slow their development with regards to rolling, sitting and crawling.

We have to remember that before it was realised that infants are safer sleeping on their backs babies spent a lot of time on their tummies.

Now we have to make special time for them to develop the muscles necessary for their natural physical development and to avoid flat head syndrome.

But I hope that with the 9 tricks I have shared with you today, there will be no need to run these risks as your baby will be loving tummy time in no time!

I hope you enjoyed this post and are now planning what you’re going to do next time you try tummy time with your little one!

If you have any more questions about your baby hating tummy time or if you have any blog recommendations that you’d like me to write about, then please drop me an email at [email protected] and let me know!

Thank you for your continued support and until next time, with love and support, Happy Parenting!

Paula McLaren

Paul Mclaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the child care industry as a Norland Nanny since 1982. Since then, her mission has been to help parents become the best they can possibly be. And each year, she continues to help more families understand their child's development, the trials and joys of parenting and of course, how to care for their little ones.

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