Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Making ‘tummy time’ easier

You may have heard that “tummy time” can help build strength and prepare infants to do things like push up on their bellies, sit up, crawl, and eventually stand.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s important to play and interact with the baby while he or she is awake and on the tummy two to three times each day for about three to five minutes beginning on their first day home from the hospital. You should add more time as the baby shows he or she enjoys the activity.

But what if your baby acts fussy or isn’t enjoying it?

“Since babies spend so much time on their back, when they get on their tummy they may feel a little bit uncomfortable and out of balance,” said Mary Reid, OTR, developmental and feeding specialist in the neonatal intensive care unit at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital. “Some babies experience discomfort and increased spitting up if their tummy is full.”

Reid, who also provides early intervention for infants from birth to three years to promote achievement of developmental milestones, offers some tips for helping your baby with tummy time:
  • A good way to start may be to have the baby lie on your chest when you are sitting in a reclined position.
  • Babies that spit up frequently may be more comfortable when supported with the head and upper body elevated.
  • Spending time face to face with your infant is very motivating and will encourage lifting the head to look up.
  • Support the baby’s elbows under shoulders and hands together under their face can help reduce irritation from bumping his or her face on the floor and provides improved stability.
  • If you roll up a bath towel and place it under the shoulders, this can help shift their weight to get the leverage they need to lift the head.
  • Close proximity of the hands to the mouth may also help the baby self console.
  • Placing you hand over the hips can help improve that weight shift necessary to help them lift the head.
What has worked for you and your infant?


  1. Bethany EricksonMay 11, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    John really didn't like tummy time at first - but we started giving him things to look at, too, about six inches away from his face. I would rotate different brightly colored toys on different sessions, but really, his favorite is a makeup mirror that I had his daddy pick up at the dollar store. He loves looking at "the other baby."

    His other favorite thing to look at during tummy time? Me. So occasionally I'll get down there and lay with him, and we just talk!

  2. Nothing has really worked for Ian. He was premature by 3 months and would regularly get tummy time in the NICU, but once we got home tummy time became a chore. He fusses, screams, kicks and shakes his head. We try laying him on my chest reclined and it still makes him mad! (And everything else that has been suggested!) Any tips on how to get an extremely difficult baby to enjoy his tummy time?