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Why Do Babies Hate Tummy Time?

Why Do Babies Hate Tummy Time?

I remember when my baby was born, I was told to make sure she got plenty of tummy time. But when I put her on her stomach, she would cry and scream until I picked her up. I was confused and worried, wondering why my baby hated tummy time so much. After doing some research and talking to other parents, I learned that many babies dislike tummy time, and there are several reasons why.

A baby lies on a colorful, padded mat, frowning and lifting their head and arms in protest during tummy time. Toys and a mirror are scattered around the mat

For starters, babies may not be used to being on their stomachs. They spend most of their time on their backs, and being on their stomachs can be uncomfortable and disorienting. Additionally, babies may not have the strength to lift their heads or support their upper bodies, which can make tummy time even more uncomfortable. Finally, babies may simply be hungry, tired, or overstimulated, which can make them fussy during tummy time.

Understanding Tummy Time

A baby lies on its stomach, lifting its head and pushing up with its arms. The baby looks uncomfortable and unhappy

As a pediatrician, I often recommend tummy time to new parents as an essential activity for their baby’s development. Tummy time refers to the practice of placing a baby on their stomach while they are awake and supervised. In this section, I will explain the developmental milestones that tummy time helps achieve and the benefits of this activity.

Developmental Milestones

Tummy time is crucial for babies as it helps them achieve several developmental milestones. When a baby is placed on their stomach, they learn to lift their head, which strengthens their neck and back muscles. This strength helps them achieve the following milestones:

  • Rolling over: When a baby has good head control, they can start to roll over from their stomach to their back and vice versa.
  • Crawling: Crawling is an essential milestone that helps babies develop their gross motor skills. Tummy time helps babies strengthen their arms, legs, and core muscles, which are crucial for crawling.
  • Sitting: When a baby has good neck and back muscles, they can sit up without support.

Benefits of Tummy Time

Apart from helping babies achieve developmental milestones, tummy time has several benefits. These benefits include:

  • Preventing flat head syndrome: When babies spend too much time lying on their backs, they can develop a flat spot on the back of their head. Tummy time helps prevent this by encouraging babies to spend time on their stomachs.
  • Improving digestion: Tummy time can help babies with reflux and gas as it puts gentle pressure on their abdomen, which can help relieve discomfort.
  • Enhancing visual development: When a baby is on their stomach, they have to lift their head to see their surroundings, which helps develop their visual skills.

Common Dislikes in Babies

A baby lays on its tummy, frowning and pushing against the floor. Toys are scattered around, ignored. A clock on the wall shows the passing time

As a parent, it can be frustrating when your baby doesn’t enjoy tummy time. However, it’s important to remember that each baby is unique and may have their own reasons for disliking it. Here are a few common dislikes in babies that may explain why your little one isn’t a fan of tummy time.

Discomfort and Frustration

Some babies may find tummy time uncomfortable or frustrating, especially if they have reflux or gas. They may also get frustrated if they’re not able to reach toys or objects they want to play with. To make tummy time more comfortable, try placing a rolled-up towel under your baby’s chest to elevate their upper body. You can also try distracting them with toys or singing songs to keep them engaged.

Lack of Head Control

Babies need to develop strong neck and back muscles to hold their heads up during tummy time. If your baby hasn’t developed enough head control yet, they may find tummy time uncomfortable or even scary. To help them build up their muscles, try propping them up on a nursing pillow or rolled-up blanket. You can also try doing shorter, more frequent tummy time sessions throughout the day.

Unfamiliar Perspective

Babies are used to seeing the world from a horizontal position, so being on their tummy can be a new and unfamiliar perspective for them. They may feel disoriented or unsure of how to move their arms and legs. To help them feel more comfortable, try getting down on the floor with them and showing them how to move their arms and legs. You can also try placing a mirror in front of them so they can see themselves and get familiar with their new perspective.

Tips for Successful Tummy Time

A happy baby lying on a colorful, soft mat, surrounded by toys and a mirror. The baby is lifting their head and engaging with the toys during tummy time

As a new parent, you may be wondering how to make tummy time a success for your baby. Here are some tips that worked for me:

Gradual Introduction

I found that gradually introducing tummy time to my baby was key to success. I started with short, frequent sessions throughout the day, and gradually increased the time as my baby got more comfortable. You can start with just 2-3 minutes of tummy time 3-5 times per day, and work your way up to longer sessions.

Engagement and Interaction

Engaging and interacting with your baby during tummy time can help them feel more comfortable and make the experience more enjoyable. I found that using high contrast toys, mirrors, and other visual stimulation helped keep my baby engaged during tummy time. You can also talk to your baby, sing songs, or make funny faces to keep them entertained.

Comfort and Safety Tips

Making sure your baby is comfortable and safe during tummy time is essential. I found that using a soft blanket or mat for my baby to lie on helped make the experience more comfortable. Additionally, making sure your baby is supervised and never left unattended during tummy time can help ensure their safety.

When to Start and Frequency

A baby lies on its stomach, arms and legs splayed out. It looks uncomfortable, with a furrowed brow and a pouty mouth

Recommended Age to Begin

As a pediatrician, I often get asked when parents should start tummy time with their babies. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), parents can start tummy time as early as the first day of life, as long as the baby is awake and supervised. However, it is important to note that newborns may not tolerate tummy time for very long, so parents should start with short sessions of one to two minutes and gradually increase the duration as the baby gets older and stronger.

Daily Tummy Time Duration

The AAP recommends that parents aim for at least 30 minutes of tummy time per day, spread out over several sessions. This can be broken up into shorter 2-3 minute sessions throughout the day, especially in the first few months of life when babies are still building their strength.

It is important to note that every baby is different and may have varying tolerances for tummy time. Some babies may not enjoy it at all, while others may tolerate it for longer periods of time. As a parent, it is important to pay attention to your baby’s cues and adjust the duration and frequency of tummy time accordingly.

Signs of Readiness and Resistance

As a parent, it’s important to know the signs of readiness and resistance when it comes to tummy time. Here are some indicators to look for:

Positive Indicators

  • Lifting the head: If your baby is able to lift their head up while on their tummy, this is a sign of readiness. It means they have enough neck strength to support their head and can start building more strength in their upper body.
  • Pushing up: Another positive sign is when your baby starts pushing up with their arms while on their tummy. This means they are developing their arm and shoulder muscles, which will help them crawl later on.
  • Engaging with surroundings: If your baby seems interested in their surroundings and is looking around while on their tummy, this is a good sign that they are ready for more tummy time. They are starting to develop their visual and cognitive skills.

Signs of Distress

  • Crying: If your baby cries or fusses during tummy time, this could be a sign that they are uncomfortable or not ready for it yet. It’s important to listen to your baby’s cues and not force them into tummy time if they are not ready.
  • Arching back: If your baby arches their back while on their tummy, this could be a sign of discomfort or resistance. It’s important to make sure your baby is comfortable and not in pain during tummy time.
  • Refusing to lift head: If your baby is not able to lift their head up while on their tummy, this could be a sign that they are not quite ready for tummy time yet. It’s important to give your baby time to develop the necessary neck strength before trying tummy time again.

Alternatives and Variations

Different Positions

If your baby hates tummy time, try changing up the position. For example, you can try placing your baby on their side or propping them up with a nursing pillow. You can also try placing your baby on your chest while lying down and letting them lift their head to look at you.

Use of Props and Toys

Using props and toys during tummy time can help make it more enjoyable for your baby. Place a mirror in front of your baby so they can see their reflection, or use a colorful toy to catch their attention. You can also try placing a rolled-up towel under your baby’s chest to elevate them slightly and make it easier for them to lift their head.