My Baby Hates Tummy Time! Here’s Why! PLUS 15 Tips & Tricks

By Paula McLaren •  Updated: 03/05/21 •  9 min read

​​So… your baby hates tummy time? Well, 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 towards sitting up. 

However, if you’re reading this article… Then you are well aware that it is also one of the most frustrating parts of baby’s day! 

BUT, there are many ways in which you can encourage your baby to enjoy tummy time and make it a fun part of their routine.

Why Does My Baby Hate Tummy Time?

Have you ever wondered why babies hate tummy time?

Well, here’s the SECRET… It is because they are not used to seeing the world from that angle!

They would much rather be looking at the world with their faces up when it is far easier for them to see what is going on around them!

But 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. 

Babies who spend more time practicing 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. 

Here are my top hacks and ultimate tips for helping your baby get through this tough stage a little bit faster!

When Should We Be Doing Tummy Time?

Timing is crucial when it comes to tummy time. In particular: 

Little and often is best to begin with and even your newborn can start tummy time by lying on your chest and looking up at you for short periods of time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies begin tummy time the very day they come home from the hospital.

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

As your baby gets older, tummy time sessions can 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.

Also, ensure that you never do tummy time after a feed… your baby will be very uncomfortable if you do!

So, How Do I Get My Baby To Like Tummy Time? My Top Hacks!

There are things you can do to make tummy time more interesting and appealing for you baby. 

Make It Fun

Put your baby on a colorful blanket, put interesting toys around them at eye level or use a tummy time mat to make this more interesting and encourage them to reach those all important milestones.

Choose Your Timing

Make sure your baby is wide awake when you put them tummy down. It is hard work learning to lift your head so it is important that your little one is full of energy and not feeling tired.

Change Location

Tummy time does not always have to happen in the same place. You can give it a go when you are changing their nappy, on your bed or in different rooms around the house so they have different things to look at.

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. Get down on your tummy, make eye contact and play with them!

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.

Introduce A Mirror

Babies love mirrors and placing a non breakable tummy time mirror one in front of your baby when they are on their stomach is a brilliant way of giving them something fun and intriguing to focus on.

Use A Tummy Time Book

There are some great tummy time books out there especially designed to be propped up and to grab your baby’s interest and get them lifting their head and shoulders. 

Place A Toy Just Out Of Reach

Placing a toy just out of your baby’s reach when they are on their belly will encourage them to try and get those muscles working and reach the toy.

7 Tummy Time Tips And Tricks For Even The Fussiest Of Babies

These are my Top 7 Top Tummy Time Tips to get ANY baby loving being on their front! And no, I’m not kidding! These will be your life savers for even the fussiest of babies!

7 Tips for Babies who hate tummy time!

1. Little And Often Is The Key

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 books for them to focus on.

3. Have Lots Of Toys On The Floor

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

4. 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.

5. Increase Tummy Time Very Slowly

Take it slow. If you 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.

6. 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.

7. Be Creative

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. Place them face down over your lap when you burp them or are wrapping them in a towel after bath time. 

Baby Hates Tummy Time: FAQs

Here are 3 of the most common ‘Baby Hates Tummy Time’ Questions that are constantly popping up and being asked!

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

Face-to-face time is as important as tummy time and will help your baby develop those all important neck muscles. If you baby hates tummy time ensure that you are having some face to face time every day.

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.

What Are Some Alternatives To Tummy Time?

If your baby is resisting tummy time to the point that you are not managing to get them used to spending time on their tummy, then there are other things you can do to help strengthen their neck and shoulder muscles.

Hold your baby in the upright position against your chest and support their necks gently. Lay them across your lap when you are burping them, carry your baby in the face down position along your arm or lay them on your tummy face down.

All of these positions can be used as alternatives to tummy time! So do not worry if baby is really hating being on their tummy. just start with these positions and gradually work up to being on their tummy.

 If I haven’t answered your question, be sure to drop me an email at [email protected] and I will personally get back to you with an answer!

If you enjoyed this post and know other parents who would enjoy this content, be sure to give it a share! 

On a side note, if you’re looking for products for your little one’s tummy time sessions, and you’re not sure where to begin, be sure to check out my Parenting Toolbox.

It is full of all my favourite products which I’ve tried to ensure are all non-toxic, eco friendly, sustainable and, of course, they’re all baby proof! Including tummy time mats and mirrors!

Do you have any blog recommendations that you’d like me to write about? Drop me an email [email protected] and let me know!

I love hearing from you!

Thank you for your continued support!

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.