6 Reasons Why Your Baby Hates Tummy Time and What To Do About It

Wondering why your baby hates tummy time? You’re not alone. 

There are a lot of frustrated and worried new moms and dads out there who are struggling to make their little ones do even 2 minutes of tummy time.

Some have 6-month-old babies that still can’t do tummy time without crying and shrieking the entire time!

If you have an infant that hates tummy time, then this article is for you!

Here you’ll find various reasons why babies hate tummy time and what you can do to make them do at least a little bit of it.

But first, let’s check the benefits of providing tummy time to a newborn.

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Why Is Tummy Time Important?

Tummy time is important primarily for meeting developmental milestones. 

Some babies need to exercise their neck muscles through tummy time, so they’ll be able to roll over independently, start crawling, sit up, etc.

It also helps with certain conditions such as torticollis and flat head syndrome.

Related Article: When to Start Tummy Time (Ultimate Tummy Time Guide)

Why Your Baby Hates Tummy Time

  • Because of reflux

Infants with reflux hate being on their tummy, as it’s very uncomfortable and at times painful for them.

It can also lead them to spit up a lot or even vomit multiple times a day, especially if tummy time was done immediately after a feeding.

  • Because their basic needs are not being met

Your baby might be feeling tired or hungry or might need a diaper change and isn’t in the right mood for tummy time.

  • Because of physical limitations

They might have flat head syndrome, hypertonia, or torticollis, conditions that make tummy time difficult for your little one. 

  • Because they’re preemies

It’s normal for premature babies to have trouble with tummy time, as they were used to being on their backs for prolonged periods.

  • Because they’re bored

Some babies want more stimulation than others and just get bored faster.

  • Because their environment is not comfortable

Maybe it’s too cold or too hot in the room. 

Maybe the blanket they’re laying on feels too scratchy. 

Maybe the toy they’re playing with is too overwhelming for them.

What To Do When Baby Hates Tummy Time

Find the right timing

It might be tricky to tell at first but try looking for that sweet spot where your baby isn’t hungry or sleepy yet and is more accepting of tummy time.

You can try doing it right after they wake up, or before or after a diaper change or bathing.

Do it quickly, initially

Try doing it for just 10 seconds a day, then gradually increase it to 30 seconds, then to a minute. 

Then do it several times a day.

This is actually the best tummy time tip for babies with reflux.

Place baby on your chest

This is quite possibly the best position to do tummy time, especially if done skin-to-skin and right after giving birth.

You’re basically making your newborn get used to it the minute they’re born!

Roll baby in and out of tummy time

Place them on their back on the couch or a play mat, then roll them into their tummy. 

Then before they could react, quickly roll them back again to their back.

It’s a distracting yet fun tummy-time activity for your little one!

Do it again and again until they can do tummy time longer.

Put them in a comfy environment

Make sure that it’s not too cold nor too hot in the room, and the crawling rug or towel they’re on is not scratchy and such.

Hold them in a burping position

After burping them on your lap while laying down on their tummy, make them stay in that position for a few seconds longer.

Massage their back, and their feet and just distract them, so they can do tummy time longer.

Give them something to do

Distract them further by giving them tummy time toys to hold and play with, mirrors/ books, and family pictures to look at.

Help them lift their head

Put a rolled-up towel/ blanket or baby lounger, to prop them up, to make tummy time easier for them.

Make it fun

You can join your baby on the floor or let other siblings or family members entertain them!

You can also introduce new toys such as:

Or new tummy time positions – lay them across your lap, on your leg on the floor, on a gym ball – etc.!

Check out more fun tummy time ideas for babies here.

Distract them more

Try patting or jiggling their butt, give them a back or foot massage, and such, to further distract them, making them do more tummy time.

Or change locations! 

If you can see that they’re getting fussy on say, their playpen in the living room, get an outdoor playmat, and do tummy time in the garden.

Alternatives to Tummy Time

  • Try babywearing

Babywearing can be a great tummy-time alternative!

But it still can’t replace the benefits of laying down on the floor or your chest.

But again, it does put your baby in a position where they can exercise their neck muscles and more.

And carrying your baby also helps with reflux!

  • Do football hold-style

Watch at the 1:42 mark and see how to carry your baby football-style

Always remember to support their head and shoulders when doing this position.

  • Try side-lying

Make your baby lay on their side, instead of their tummy. 

This still exercises their neck muscles but remember to prop their back with a towel or blanket.

And also support their head with a small pillow.

Make them do this initially for just 10 seconds or so then place them on their tummy. Then gradually make them do it longer.

FAQ: Baby Hates Tummy Time

What do I do if my baby hates tummy time?

If your baby hates tummy time, you can try distracting them with toys, changing their tummy time position, putting them in a different place, or making them do it initially, for only a few seconds a day.

Is it normal for babies not to like tummy time?

Yes, it’s normal for babies not to like tummy time. 
Some of them might have reflux, making it uncomfortable to do tummy time.
Others might have some physical limitations. 
Or they’re bored or their environment is a little bit uncomfortable to do tummy time in.

Do you let your baby cry during tummy time?

No, it’s better not to let your baby cry during tummy time. 
Forcing them to do tummy time will make them associate it with uncomfortable and unpleasant feelings. Making them do less tummy time!

Takeaway on Baby Hates Tummy Time

The best position for a baby who hates tummy time is on your chest.

They love cuddling and being close to you, and even if they just do it for a few seconds before they start screaming bloody murder, hey at least they were able to do it!