Overcoming the Dreaded Tummy-Time

As a brand-new mom, I was torn between wanting her to be a successful crawler and mortified at listening to my poor baby cry.

From the very first time my daughter was placed on her stomach, she hated it. She would scream and cry and whine. As a brand-new mom, I was torn between wanting her to be a successful crawler and mortified at listening to my poor baby cry. I googled everything, and I discovered I was not alone. Turns out, some babies just don’t like to be tummy down. The reasons ranged from they are uncomfortable in that position, the view scares them, they feel alone, and they could be dealing with reflux. I think my little one’s problem appeared to be a mixture of discomfort and reflux.


I tried everything from laying out fun toys for her to look at, talking to her, putting her in comfortable places like the couch instead of the floor, switching around her view from the crib to the changing table, to the floor to the couch and so on. I even got down on my own tummy with her and would act all excited and tell her how proud I was of her.

My baby is currently five months now and is still not a fan of being tummy down, but with these tips I was able to get her to enjoy up to ten minutes on the floor.

Short Intervals
In her first week I set my baby on the floor on her stomach. I learned immediately that she despised it. So, I literally started with seconds and worked my way up to minutes. If she fussed a little bit I would distract her and talk to her. When she had enough I would pick her up.

Cuddle Time
In the beginning, I couldn’t get my little one to relax on the floor or the couch, so I started tummy time across my chest. This counts as time on their tummy and it’s great for bonding. Just be careful not to fall asleep. Once she could spend a decent amount of time laying on me, I transitioned her to the couch.


Multiple Times a Day
I started with twice a day and then slowly worked my way to three to four times a day for a few minutes each. Again, I would get down with her and let her know that I was right there with her.


Get excited with your baby and praise them. When they pick their head up, clap and cheer. When they start pushing themselves up off the floor, make it a party. Yes, I know, it kind of sounds like you’re training a dog, but believe me, babies love it when you get excited.

Make it Comfortable
Put your baby somewhere soft like your bed or the couch, or a nice comfy rug. They’re building strength so sometimes they’re head will plop down hard. A head thump does not go well with an already fussy baby. You could also try propping their head up with a pillow to get their face away from the floor.


Make sure to put baby on their tummy every day. The more they get use to being on their tummy the better it will get for them.


Make it Fun
Use an activity mat or set out toys. This is a great way to distract them and is especially helpful once they have perfected their reach and grasp.


Get Them Naked
If your baby is anything like mine, then they love hanging out in just their diapers. My little one started to protest clothes as soon as two months. I found that when I placed her on her tummy in just her diaper, she appeared to enjoy it a little more.


Give Them a Break
Don’t wait until baby is screaming at the top of their lungs. Once your baby starts to fuss, and you can’t distract them, pick them up or put them in a position they are most comfortable.

Don’t Force It
If your baby is still refusing tummy time, don’t force it. As baby’s head becomes more stable, try holding them up right. This helps build strength without having to lay on their tummy but don’t forget to support their head if it’s still wobbly. (If you are nervous about holding baby upright, start by laying baby on their back. Grab on to their hands and slowly and carefully pull baby up less than an inch of the ground. If baby can not lift their head up on their own than baby does not have enough strength. You can also practice this as baby develops strength and pull baby up a little higher each time.)


Once they master holding their head up you can start practicing sitting with baby on your lap. As they build core strength you can begin to prop them up between your legs or with a Boppy pillow. When they get better at sitting, they can push off and crawl from there. This is the strategy I am focusing on with my little one. She prefers sitting much more than being face down.

If you are concerned about your child’s development, please reach out to your pediatrician.

If you have any unique or helpful tips that worked for your little one, feel free to comment them below.


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