Helping Babies Tolerate Tummy Time

When babies spend time on their stomachs, they strengthen upper body muscles, learn head and neck control and develop the coordination that leads to crawling, reaching and rolling over. Babies who don't get enough tummy time can later require occupational therapy and physical therapy, and may develop a flat spot on their head, requiring special corrective equipment. While many parents are aware that tummy time is important, babies themselves often don't enjoy tummy time. It takes a lot of exertion. If your baby protests tummy time, these tips will help you calm your baby and make tummy time more productive. 

Increase Tummy Time Gradually

Start by laying your baby down for tummy time at very short intervals of 10 or 15 seconds each time. Increase the amount of time that your baby is on his or her stomach by a few seconds every day. 

Develop a Regular Routine

Lay your baby down or tummy time at the same time every day, either after a nap or after feeding. If tummy time seems natural and expected for your baby, he or she may accept it more. 

Engage in Tummy Time Together

Lay with your baby during tummy time. Maintain eye contact, and interact with your baby during tummy time. Show your baby toys and cuddle with your baby.

You may even start by holding your baby during tummy time. Lay your baby on your arm, stomach down, with your arm between your baby's legs. As another alternative, you may choose to position your baby on your own stomach. Start in a mostly sitting position, then gradually lay down so that your back is on the floor. 

Use a Towel to Help

Roll a towel and lay it on the ground in front of your baby, then pull your baby's arms forward and lay the hands on the towel, so your baby is positioned somewhat like superman on the ground. This will make it easier for your baby to hold his or her head up.

Start Early

Tummy time can begin right away after birth. Waiting to start tummy time can make your child more intolerant to it later. For optimal results, start tummy time with your infant in the first week of life.

Children who experience motor delays can require interventions later in life. If your child has difficulty with tummy time, or if your child experiences physical or developmental delays as a result of a lack of tummy time, occupational therapy can help. Occupational therapy can help your child develop the motor, play and sensory processing skills necessary to reach their developmental milestones. Speak with an occupational therapist to find out more. 

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