“My baby hates tummy time!” is a commonly heard statement from parents of infants. No one likes to feel like they’re forcing their baby to endure physical discomfort.
Let’s reframe tummy time and see if we can make it a better experience for everyone.
There’s no pressure behind getting a certain number of minutes of tummy time a day.
Let go of the idea that tummy time is homework for babies. That way of thinking can produce stress for parents.
Remember that any time not spent on their back is considered tummy time until they are really comfortable lifting their head using their back and chest muscles. So time your baby spends on a parent’s chest, during which they practice lifting their head is “tummy time”.
We also consider the time spent in a carrier, nursing, and feeding, using core strength, time invested in the same muscle development as tummy time.
Tips from Monti Kids families on making tummy time work for them:
- Get down on the floor with your baby, also on your tummy, so that they see you when they lift their head.
- Hold up toys or contrast cards to capture your baby’s interest.
- Position a floor mirror next to your baby.
- Sing or talk to your baby when you turn them on their front.
- Do it frequently, such as after a diaper change, turn baby over for just a few seconds.
- Place baby on your knees looking out into the room for a change in perspective.
WATCH: Tummy Time Tips from Monti Kids
Another way to think about your baby’s reaction to tummy time that might ease your mind is that when they grunt and struggle, it doesn’t mean they are unhappy.
Engaging their developing muscles is a workout! Think of the sounds you make when you do push-ups or lift a heavy object. We build strength when we work at it.
Let your baby become accustomed to the feel of the pressure on their stomach, arms, and legs when they lay in this position. If they really fuss or cry, tell them that you hear them and gently roll them from tummy to back and continue to play on the floor.
When to Start Tummy Time
Because every baby and their development is unique, there isn’t a magic age to start tummy time. Observing when your baby has longer periods of alertness will be your first sign that they will be ready to play and exercise – this could be as early as two weeks or closer to a month depending on your baby. Before then, enjoy the time spent together nursing and cuddling knowing that these times will also support tummy time development.
What to Look for in a Tummy Time Mat
When choosing a mat for playtime, there are a couple of things to consider. First, making sure it is soft enough to catch a “heavy head” when your baby gets tired, but not so soft that it becomes a safety hazard. Next, making sure it is made of a material that can easily be washed either with a quick wipe with a damp cloth or in the washing machine.
Finally, we recommend choosing a mat with muted colors and simple patterns that will allow it to fade into the background and not be a distraction to your baby’s play. Other Monti Kids families report that the rugs made by Little Nomads as well as Ruggable have been great options for their play spaces and babies.