Why Do Babies Hate Tummy Time? — Here’s What You Can Do



A 4-month-old Caucasian baby with light brown hair lying on a colorful play mat during tummy time. The baby has a crying expression, indicating discomfort with tummy time. The background features a cozy, well-lit room with toys and soft furnishings, creating a safe and nurturing environment.

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Many parents find that their babies seem to dislike tummy time, a reaction that can be puzzling and concerning. Understanding the reasons behind this aversion is key to helping your baby grow and develop happily and healthily.

This article will explore the common reasons why some babies resist tummy time. We’ll discuss factors such as physical discomfort, the developmental stage of the baby, and the unfamiliarity of the position. We’ll also offer practical tips on how to make tummy time more enjoyable and beneficial for your baby, including the gradual introduction of tummy time, using engaging toys, and being present to interact with your baby during these sessions.

Whether you’re a first-time parent or simply seeking ways to improve your baby’s tummy time experience, this guide will provide you with strategies to encourage your baby to embrace and benefit from this crucial activity.

Key Takeaways on What to Do if Your Baby Hates Tummy Time

  • Unfamiliarity with the position. Babies spend a lot of time on their backs, so tummy time can feel strange and uncomfortable at first.
  • Lack of neck and shoulder strength. Young infants may struggle with tummy time due to underdeveloped muscles, making it challenging and tiring.
  • Limited perspective and vision. Babies can’t see as much around them when on their stomach, which can be frustrating or boring.
  • Discomfort from gas or reflux. Lying on their tummy can be uncomfortable for babies with gas or reflux issues.
  • Overwhelming sensory experience. The new textures and sensations experienced during tummy time can be too much for some infants.
  • Lack of motor skills. Without the ability to move around much, babies might feel stuck or helpless, leading to distress.
  • Not enough gradual introduction. If tummy time is introduced too abruptly or for too long, babies may resist it.
  • Individual temperament differences. Some babies naturally enjoy tummy time less than others, due to their unique preferences and temperaments.
  • Dislike of being away from parents. Babies who prefer constant physical contact or visual connection with a parent may not enjoy being face-down.
  • It’s important to persist gently with tummy time. Gradually increasing duration and making it a positive experience can help babies grow to accept and even enjoy it.

Why Babies Dislike Tummy Time

Before we address of problem of newborns not liking tummy exercises, let’s first answer the question — why is tummy time important?

Tummy time is an essential activity for babies to develop core and back muscles and upper body strength, and prepare for crawling and sitting up. However, many babies seem to dislike this important exercise, which can be a source of frustration for parents.

Babies Dislike Tummy Time

Physical discomfort : Babies are not used to spending time on their stomachs, and this position can be physically uncomfortable for them. When babies are on their stomachs, their weight is pressing down on their stomachs, which can cause discomfort and make them feel uneasy.

Lack of familiarity: Babies are creatures of habit, and they feel most comfortable in familiar environments. Spending time on their bellies seems hard work, as it is a new experience.

Babies that spend most of their sleep and awake time in a stroller, crib, bouncy seat or car seat may resist doing tummy exercises, at least initially, since they’re not used to the activity.

When babies are on their stomachs, they are exposed to a new environment. They may see things from a different perspective, and the world may seem different to them. This can be overwhelming and cause discomfort.

lack of familitarity

Overstimulation: Tummy time can be an overstimulating experience for babies, which can make them resist it. When babies are on their stomachs, they are exposed to a new environment. They may see things they have not seen before, hear new sounds, and smell different scents. All of these new sensations can be overwhelming for babies, causing them to feel stressed and anxious.

How to Make Tummy Time More Comfortable for Babies

Now that we have explored why babies may dislike tummy time, it’s time to look at ways to make it more comfortable and enjoyable for them. Here’s some of our favorite tummy time tips:

Start gradually : One of the best ways to encourage tummy time and make it more comfortable for your baby is to introduce it gradually.

Start tummy time with just a few minutes of two to three sessions per day and gradually increase the duration. For instance, you can start with three to five minutes and then add a minute or two to each tummy time session until your baby is spending longer sessions on their stomach.

You can even integrate tummy exercises after diaper change or bath time. Lay your baby tummy down across your lap to get them ready.

Start gradually

Comfortable surface : Choose a safe and comfortable surface. Don’t place your baby tummy down on hard surfaces, which can cause discomfort and may discourage them from spending time on their stomachs. Providing a soft and comfortable surface can make all the difference.

A soft blanket or towel can provide a comfortable surface for your baby to lay on during tummy time. You can also use a tummy time mat, which is designed specifically for this activity. If you have an exercise ball lying around, you can use it too!

Use toys and other safe objects : Using a few toys is a great way to help your baby to engage in this important developmental activity. These fun objects can help distract and entertain babies while they build strength in their neck and upper body muscles.

Suitable toys for this exercise include soft, crinkly playsets that can be easily grasped, colorful ones that can be visually stimulating, and playsets with different textures to help develop their sense of touch. Playthings with mirrors or high-contrast patterns can also be very engaging for babies.

Parental involvement: Parents can play a significant role in making tummy time more comfortable and enjoyable for their baby. When parents get involved, it can provide support and comfort for the baby, making them more likely to enjoy the activity.

Get down on the floor with your baby and make funny faces to provide support and encouragement. Be sure to be at eye level and maintain eye contact as you play. Putting a hand or cushion to support your baby’s chest can provide comfort. You can also lie together while talking or watching a toy roll over.

Parental involvement

Alternative positions : If your baby is uncomfortable with tummy time, you can try different tummy time positions and alternatives to get them used to belly down position.

Using a carrier or sling for babywearing can provide a comfortable and familiar environment for your baby to spend time on their stomachs. Similarly, laying your baby on your chest in a tummy-down position can provide a comfortable and supportive environment for tummy time.

FAQs on Baby Hates Tummy Time

Is it normal for babies not to like tummy time?

It is quite common for babies to dislike tummy time initially. Babies spend most of their time on their backs, and this activity can be an uncomfortable and unfamiliar position for them. As a result, they may cry, fuss, or resist being placed on their tummy.

If a baby continues to resist tummy time or shows signs of discomfort, parents should consult with their pediatrician to rule out any underlying medical issues.

What happens if baby doesn’t do tummy time?

If a baby doesn’t do tummy time, it can lead to delays in their physical development. Spending time belly down helps kids build the strength and coordination they need to eventually sit up, crawl, and walk. If a child skips this important activity, it may have weaker neck and upper body muscles, which can result in delays in reaching these developmental milestones.

In addition, babies who don’t spend enough time on their tummy may have difficulty with gross motor skills, such as rolling over or crawling, and fine motor skills, such as grasping objects or manipulating toys.

baby doesnt do tummy time

Is it okay for baby to cry during tummy time?

It’s common for babies to cry or fuss during tummy time, especially if they are not used to face down position. However, parents need to understand the difference between a baby who is simply uncomfortable and a baby who is in distress.

If a baby is crying but still able to lift their head and move their arms and legs, they are likely just expressing their discomfort with the position, and you can try to distract them or with toys, songs, or gentle encouragement.

However, if your baby cries inconsolably, arching their back, or showing signs of distress, they should be immediately turned onto their back.

You need to remember that tummy time should be a positive experience for their baby, and if their baby is consistently crying or showing signs of distress during this activity, they should talk to their pediatrician to rule out any underlying issues.

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