So, your baby doesn’t like tummy time, don’t worry because this happens to the best of us. Tummy time is very important because it’s responsible for building your child’s upper-body and neck strength.
However, not every baby is in tune with the tummy time ideas. Don’t feel overwhelmed or clueless because this guide is here to help you. Like mentioned earlier, most parents have this experience with their children.
Fortunately, you can change that narrative for your child and have them liking tummy time. This is positive considering that it’s a good practice for their health and development in general.
What is Tummy Time?
Like the name already suggests, tummy time is placing your baby on their belly and giving them some time to play and exercise their muscles. It’s a practice that helps children develop necessary muscles to lift their heads, crawl, and eventually sit up right.
Tummy time is best practiced when your child is fully awake and energized to play. This way, you can carefully watch your child trying to raise their head, turn their neck, and crawl, among other activities.
According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, properly supervised tummy time encourages the development of trunk and neck muscles. Moreover, tummy time can also help in preventing skull deformations, which makes an even more important practice for infants.
I Don’t Do Tummy Time with My Baby
As explained above, tummy time requires full-on supervision from parents. So, this isn’t something that you can just leave your child doing on their own. Believe me, it can lead to unwanted outcomes, which can cause you more problems.
Remember, your baby is only strong enough and when tired, he/she may easily fall asleep in that position. This might cause your child to suffocate while asleep if you are not there to supervise the practice.
Therefore, you need to do tummy time with your baby. With you supervising the practice, your child will not only develop their muscles, but also do it safely. So, you have an obligation to be present as a loving parent, which I’d like to think that you are.
But if it’s your baby who doesn’t like tummy time, then we have a few tricks to share with you. Just keep reading.
What Happens if You Don’t Do Tummy Time?
As you have seen, the reason why health professionals emphasize on tummy time is that the practice has benefits for your infant. Building your child’s trunk and neck muscles are some of the significant benefits that tummy time can offer your child.
Moreover, this practice is also essential for developing your child’s mobility. So, what happens when your child doesn’t participate in tummy time?
Well, it’s simple, they get to lose on all the potential benefits that come with the practice. If your child doesn’t do tummy time, then he/she won’t be able to do the following:
- get their head up and look around
- do push up on their elbows
- won’t be able to develop trunk and neck muscles appropriately
The lack of enough tummy time for your child can also lead to Torticollis, which is a condition that involves tight neck muscles or neck imbalance. So as you can see, tummy time is highly essential for your child’s development.
Therefore, you should try your best to ensure that your child gets the appropriate tummy time they need. Remember, not emphasizing enough tummy time for your infant only puts them at greater health risks, and that’s something I assume you don’t want to experience.
With that in mind, let’s now look at the appropriate tummy time duration for your child.
How Often Should You Do Tummy Time?
In total, your child needs about 15 minutes of tummy time every day. Remember, you should offer optimal supervision to your child during the whole practice. The aforementioned period is the best because your child is only young and can take too much pressure.
However, this period will increase, as your child grows older and stronger. Soon, you’ll be able to leave your child on their own when on tummy time practice.
When broken down, the 15 minutes of tummy time each day means that your child will require either two sessions of ten minutes each, or three sessions amounting to five minutes each.
I would like to emphasize on being watchful when your child is still young and has merely developed their muscles.
Why Do Babies Hate Tummy Time?
Parents mostly want to learn more about tummy time when their children refuse taking part in the practice. There are several reasons why your baby doesn’t like tummy time, and they can be frustrating.
Fortunately, there are also ways to ensure that you always come on top when your child fusses over tummy time. That’s understandable considering that it’s more safe for children to sleep on their backs more often because it prevents SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
But as you have learnt, there are also several benefits of tummy time for your child. Thus, children get uncomfortable when they turn to sleep on their bellies as opposed to their norm, which is sleeping face-up.
Most children find their tummy time experience demanding and highly uncomfortable. But because tummy time is essential for your child’s overall muscle development, it’s a necessary practice. So if your baby doesn’t like tummy time, the following section can help you change the narrative for them.
How to Help Your Child Like Tummy Time
As you have seen, tummy time is necessary for all children to develop appropriately. So if your child doesn’t like tummy time, then they’ll be missing out on a lot.
To help you cope, the following tips can get your child get comfortable and used to staying on his/her belly.
- Start Sooner
For anything to be habitual for your infant, you need to start them on the appropriate time. When it comes to tummy time, don’t put it off because you think your baby is too young or you don’t have the time.
First, you need to create enough time to observe your child’s development process. You should be their first supervisor and support, cheering them on to development.
Additionally, you also need to consider the appropriate time to introduce tummy time for your child. According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, infants should start practicing tummy time immediately when they come home from the hospital.
This means that you should start the practice early for your child, while he/she is only a few weeks old. When you do this, you’ll create a routine for them to follow and they won’t fuss about tummy time as they grow older.
However, infants only require 2-3 minutes of tummy time a day when they are only a few weeks old. As they grow older and stronger, then it becomes easier to switch into the standard 10-15 minutes of tummy time each day.
- Be Present
Keeping your baby company during the entire tummy time session is important for your child. It helps children get distracted from the uncomfortable feeling of staying on their belly and facing down for their first time.
To encourage them, you can also lie down on your belly as well with your child. This will not only distract them but it will also make your child see tummy time as a fun experience.
You can either start them with a mat on the floor or on their bed. Besides distraction and making the experience fun for your child, supervising your child ensures that they stay safe on their belly.
Being present ensures that you pick up your child once they have had enough of the experience. Moreover, you also prevent suffocation risks if your child suddenly sleeps while on their belly.
- Make it Fun
The level of fun your child experiences when on a certain practice determines how long he/she can partake in the practice. Moreover, it can also determine their willingness to do it again.
When it comes to tummy time, most children don’t really look forward to the experience especially during the early stages. This is where you come in to make the whole experience fun and entertaining for your child.
For instance, you can place a toy your child likes slightly far from them and have him/her try to reach it while lying on the belly. Moreover, you can also take your child to a baby gym, which is designed specifically for your child to develop their muscles.
Whichever way you choose, you are the best supervisor to make tummy time fun for your child. So, try to make tummy time fun for your child the best way you can without making it seem like hard work for them.
- Place a Mirror Facing Your Baby
Having a mirror in front of your child and seeing their reflection while on his/her belly is another way of making tummy time fun. This will excite your baby because he/she will have another baby facing them while on the floor.
With this move, you have to ensure that it’s a non-breakable mirror to avoid potential injuries for your child.
- Add Props for Your Baby
To help your child experience a productive tummy time, you can add a towel below their chest. When you do this, ensure that the arms stretch out in front and you can use a pillow instead of a towel.
This will provide support to your child as he/she continues to develop neck and back muscles. Adding props such as a towel or pillow to your child also ensures that you increase their mobility when they are on their belly.
- Watch Your Child
Lastly, you need to tune in and watch your child during the entire tummy time practice. You need to understand that it takes time and a lot of practice for your child to develop reliable muscles and mobility capabilities as well.
Eventually, your child will grow stronger and use their newly developed muscles to roll and shuffle different things while on the floor. Tuning in and watching your child throughout the entire tummy time experience also gives you a chance to learn more about them.
For instance, you’ll be able to understand what your child likes and doesn’t like while partaking in the practice. This way, you’ll create an enabling environment for your child for an effective tummy time experience.
Alternatives to Tummy Time
If you can’t seem to convince your child into liking tummy time, there are other alternatives that can still help your child achieve the same benefits.
- Side Laying – This is a great alternative to tummy time because it helps your child exercise, and develop muscles on both sides of their body. Ensure that your child’s arms are facing in front to provide them support. You can also lay down and face them to make the experience more fun and stable for your child.
- Lap Laying – With this approach, you should place your child across your lap and hold them while patting them. Your child will have fun trying to see you and he/she will feel more close to you as opposed to when they are on their belly.
- Tummy to Tummy – If your baby doesn’t like tummy time completely, try mixing it up with the tummy to tummy experience. Your child already likes spending time with you and this will be more like bonding, while your child develops their muscles.
- Hold Tummy Down – This is more like lap lying because your child will feel more close to their caregiver. With this approach, you can support your child with your arms and carry them while facing down. This will have a great impact on your child’s upper-body strength.
So, I hope that this guide helps you cope and change the narrative if your baby doesn’t like tummy time. First, it’s completely normal for your child to resent the idea especially in the early stages.
The good news is that there are several ways to make the experience fun and comfortable for your child. Employ the above-explained tips on how to make your child comfortable throughout the entire tummy time practice and you’ll get effective results.
Remember, this practice takes time and optimal supervision for your child to reach the needed milestones. So, ensure that you keep your child company and provide for any necessities that your child may need.