Baby Hates Tummy Time: How To Avoid Going To The Dark Side

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Baby Hates Tummy Time

My baby hates tummy time!

Unprepared parents

If you reach this point, it’s a painful (long) way to snap out of it.

I am going to tell you today what NOT to do to hit this “milestone”.

While several articles provide suggestions on how to handle this situation, my piece will take a different approach.


Because I am a big fan of prevention over treatment, in everything.

I can tell you from personal and professional practice that is 10x easier to prevent a problem than to fix it.

By incorporating concrete examples based mostly on DON’Ts, you will gain better insights into potential pitfalls associated with tummy time.

The following article aims to equip you with the knowledge on what not to do, ultimately ensuring a more enjoyable and beneficial tummy time experience for all parties.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not bulletproof.

In the end, we are dealing with babies (human beings) that are unpredictable, like most of us.

However, they can be persuaded with the proper approach.

Some babies might dislike or even hate tummy time no matter what.


I tested the concept I am about to explain below with 9 friends willing to listen, and I had a 100% success rate.

In this article, we will discuss mistakes to steer clear of such as:

  • ignoring your baby’s cues
  • failing to create a comfortable and engaging environment
  • insisting on tummy time when the baby is unprepared

Let’s delve into what to avoid before and during tummy time to prevent babies from reaching the point of despising this essential activity.

Additionally, we’ll explore practical solutions, preventative measures, and tools to ensure that tummy time remains an essential and enjoyable routine for both you and your baby.

Understanding Tummy Time

Although, already explained in Top 25 Toys For Tummy Time and related articles, let’s have a quick summary about tummy time.

Importance Of Tummy Time

Tummy time is a crucial activity for babies as it helps them develop neck, shoulder, and upper body strength.

It is also crucial for preventing the development of flat spots on the back of the head (known as positional plagiocephaly).

Additionally, tummy time encourages your baby to explore their surroundings and develop motor skills such as crawling and rolling over.

Recommended Duration And Frequency

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), tummy time sessions should start as early as possible, ideally when your baby is a few weeks old.

Sessions should be short and sweet.

Two to three sessions a day for three to five minutes at a time.

As your baby gets older and stronger, you can work up to 20 to 30 minutes of tummy time a day.

Why Do Babies Hate Tummy Time?

They don’t.

At least that is my conclusion after reading tons of related written materials and talking to more than 50 parents.

How parents introduce and carry out tummy time is critical in determining whether a baby will enjoy or start to dislike it.

Practical example:

Someone wakes you up at 3 AM and asks you to do a physical task you have never done before for which you don’t have yet the strength to do.

No matter what that task is, if this happens repeatedly you will hate it and most likely refuse to do it.


Therefore, don’t be that person and keep reading.

7 Reasons Babies (Might) Hate Tummy Time

The most common reasons why a baby hates tummy time include:

  1. Abrupt introduction of the process
  2. Lack of a comfortable environment
  3. Initial too-long sessions (“less is more”)
  4. Boredom or lack of engaging stimuli (toys or tools)
  5. Uncomfortable positioning or lack of support
  6. Lack of parent (adult) engagement
  7. Frustration with limited movement abilities

We gonna tackle all of these issues below rest assured.

Abrupt Introduction Of Tummy Time

Don’t jump on it!

Don’t engage your baby in tummy time all of a sudden.

The sudden and unplanned initiation of tummy time in infants is the NUMBER ONE under the sun reason to reach the point when a baby hates tummy time.

It can be overwhelming for the baby and cause discomfort, resulting in a negative association with tummy time.

It is important to gradually introduce tummy time and create a comfortable and safe environment to make it an enjoyable experience for the baby.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Rush Progression

One of the key aspects of making tummy time enjoyable and beneficial for your baby is to focus on gradual progression.

By approaching tummy time with a focus on what to avoid, we can help prevent your baby from developing a hatred for this crucial developmental activity.

This section will elaborate on two additional topics: avoiding long sessions and introducing new challenges all in.

Avoid Long Sessions

It’s essential to start tummy time with brief sessions, as expecting your baby to spend extended periods on their tummy right away can lead to frustration and discomfort.

Instead, aim for sessions that last only a minute or two at first, gradually increasing the duration as your baby becomes more comfortable and adept in this position.

By doing this, your baby will develop the necessary strength and skills for tummy time at a manageable pace, reducing the likelihood of negative associations with the activity.

From day 1, use the doctor’s approach and always tell your baby what is going to happen and what is happening.

This approach should become a habit and you shall not have any issues with your baby engaging in activities or later on, eating food that most kids don’t.

I am talking about you broccoli!

Scout’s word!

Don’t Introduce Multiple Challenges

Don’t be tempted to get your baby to do everything that you saw online or in other families.

Rome was not built in one day!

First, your baby needs to get accustomed to tummy time.

Then you can slowly introduce new challenges to keep your young engaged and help him or her continue developing their motor skills.

Avoid overwhelming them with too many challenges at once and introduce a new one once he mastered the previous one.

The same is true for toys.

Don’t land your baby in a sea of toys.

Gradually incorporate new toys, textures, and experiences during tummy time sessions to keep them interested and motivated and to avoid overstimulation.

Some ways to do this include:

1. Providing various textures for your baby to feel and explore

The Lovevery Play Gym comes with all of that under one umbrella.

Another idea is the High Contrast Toys for which I have a dedicated article.

2. Adding age-appropriate toys to the tummy time area

By doing so, you will encourage your baby to reach for and interact with them.

One such toy that proved very effective for many parents and babies, also one of my favorites, is Flappy the Elephant.

Nonetheless, whatever tummy time toys you decide to bring, they should come slowly, one by one, and not in bulk.

3. Incorporating tummy time mirrors

As babies love to look at their reflections, you can provide an additional source of stimulation during tummy time with this unique tool.

You don’t know what a tummy time mirror is?

Here is the article about the magic of The Tummy Time Mirror where you can find how important this toy is and also options to pick from.

By not rushing the progression of tummy time and gradually introducing new elements over time, you can help ensure that your baby remains engaged and positive.

Thus, reducing the chances of them developing a dislike for it.

Lack Of A Comfortable Environment

Don’t just grab your baby and force him into some unprepared surface for the sake of the tummy time.

This is not just to tick off one task of your already busy schedule.

Ensuring your baby has a comfortable environment during tummy time can help prevent them from developing a dislike for it.

By making a few simple changes, you can make tummy time an enjoyable experience for both you and your baby.

Here are some tips on what to avoid and what to consider when setting the stage for tummy time sessions.

Choosing And Preparing The Right Surface

Don’t place your baby on surfaces that are too soft, which can make it difficult for them to lift and support their head.

Instead, opt for a firm, level surface, such as a play mat or a blanket on the floor.

This provides a stable base for your baby while giving them enough cushion to feel comfortable.

It’s important to select an appropriate surface for your baby’s tummy time.

If you need help here, my article about the Top 12 Non-Toxic Play Mats will give you a solid starting point.

If you are looking for a versatile play gym, I can’t recommend enough Lovevery’s Play Gym.

This gym has been on the market for a long time and you can find out in my article if Lovevery Play Gym is still worth it.

Don’t restrict tummy time to just one area.

Feel free to experiment with various locations in your home.

However, always ensure the area is safe and free of hazards such as sharp objects, small items that can be swallowed, and cords or strings that can cause entanglements.

Minimizing Distractions

While babies are often curious about their surroundings, too many distractions can make it difficult for them to focus on tummy time.

To make the experience more enjoyable and avoid the point when your baby hates tummy time, limit the number of toys and visual stimuli around your little one.

Instead of overwhelming them with numerous colorful toys, provide one or two easy-to-grasp, age-appropriate toys that encourage them to lift their head and engage in play.

If you are lacking ideas, my article about Crochet Rattles will put you on the right track.

Or the one about the Baby Rattle can fit right in.

Another aspect to consider is the level of noise in the environment.

Loud noises can be distressing for babies and might negatively affect their tummy time experience.

Try to maintain a calm atmosphere with soft, soothing background sounds or music.

DO NOT EXPOSE your baby to loud TVs, cellphones, or other electronic devices during tummy time.

Remember that the key to a successful tummy time session lies in creating a comfortable, safe, and engaging environment that fosters your baby’s development.

By choosing the right surface, minimizing distractions, and being attentive to your baby’s needs, you can help prevent your baby from developing a dislike for tummy time.

Bad Timing

Don’t randomly do tummy time whenever you feel comfortable or you have time.

Being mindful of the timing during tummy time can play a crucial role in preventing your baby from developing a dislike for it.

Understanding when to avoid tummy time and considering your baby’s alertness and mood can greatly influence their experience.

So do tummy time when YOUR BABY is comfortable.

Let’s explore this idea more.

Avoid Tummy Time Immediately After Feeding

The biggest NO-NO.

DO NOT engage in tummy time right after feeding your baby, as this can lead to discomfort, reflux, or even vomiting.

This is a highway toward the point when a baby hates tummy time.

Instead, wait for about 30 minutes to an hour after feeding before starting tummy time.

This allows your baby to digest their meal and feel more comfortable lying on their tummy.

Don’t Ignore Baby’s Alertness And Mood

Don’t ignore your baby’s state of mind and body.

Pay attention to your baby’s alertness and mood before initiating tummy time.

If your baby is tired or fussy, it’s best to postpone the session until they are more settled and alert.

Below are some examples you can relate to regarding the perfect moment:

  • When your baby is well-rested and calm, like after a nap (but not hungry)
  • When your baby is in a good mood

Observe your baby’s cues and adjust the session accordingly.

If they start showing signs of distress or fatigue, take a break or try again later.

Being proactive about the timing can significantly improve your baby’s tummy time experience and they will associate this activity with positive feelings.

Remember, patience and flexibility are key in ensuring a positive outcome for both parents and their little ones.

Lack Of Parent Engagement

One of the key factors in making tummy time an enjoyable experience for your baby is to actively engage with them during the process.

If your baby hates tummy time, it’s a long way back, so avoid this as much as possible.

Some parents put their babies on the floor and expect them to take over.

It’s like when you start a new job without onboarding.

Pretty sure you know the feeling so don’t do the same to your baby.

Getting On Their Level

An essential aspect of engaging your baby during tummy time is getting on their level and interacting with them face-to-face.

You may be tempted to multitask.

Don’t become distracted by other tasks, as your absence and lack of attention will lead to your baby feeling isolated or disinterested.

Make eye contact, smile, and use gentle touch or soothing words to encourage them to remain in the tummy time position.

Hold toys for them or in front of them until they can do so.

Encourage them and talk to them constantly during the process so they feel you’re there 100% for them.

It is also important not to force the position on them if they are upset or frustrated.

Ease them into tummy time gradually and follow their cues to determine when they have had enough.

Offering Breaks And Comfort

It’s important not to force tummy time for long periods, as this can lead to frustration or resentment.

And shortly to a point where the baby hates tummy time.

Instead, offer regular breaks, especially if your baby becomes fussy or starts crying during tummy time.

Shortening tummy time sessions and spacing them throughout the day can make it more bearable for your little one.

During these breaks, provide comfort to your baby by holding them, rubbing their back, or singing soothing songs.

This will reassure them that tummy time isn’t meant to be a distressing experience, and they can rely on you for support.

Remember to follow these guidelines when introducing tummy time to your baby:

By being attentive to your baby’s cues and providing support, you can create a positive tummy time experience and prevent them from disliking the activity.

Using Toys And Mirrors

Introducing toys and mirrors during tummy time can be beneficial in capturing your baby’s attention and avoiding the point when your baby hates tummy time.

However, it’s crucial not to overwhelm your baby with too many toys or distractions that could cause overstimulation.

Can’t stress it enough, LESS IS MORE.

Instead, focus on using a small selection of visually interesting and age-appropriate toys, gradually rotating them to maintain your baby’s interest.

My article about the Top 25 Toys For Tummy Time will give you plenty of ideas to pick from.

Keeping your baby engaged during tummy time can be achieved by:

  • avoiding overstimulating distractions
  • using toys and mirrors wisely
  • being present to interact and provide comfort

By following these guidelines, you can help ensure that your baby develops a positive association with tummy time and avoids the potential for disliking the activity.

Uncomfortable Positioning Or Lack Of Support

When introducing tummy time to your baby, it’s important to recognize and respond to their cues to ensure a comfortable and positive experience.

By being present and aware, you can prevent reaching the point where your baby hates tummy time.

This will also allow you to identify if your baby has a positioning issue or needs additional support.

Rotate your baby through different positions to identify what works for them and whatnot.

Be creative!

All tummy time counts.

Reading Body Language

Observing your baby’s body language can help you identify signs of discomfort or distress during tummy time.

Pay attention to their facial expressions, movements, and fussiness.

For example, if your baby is kicking their legs or flailing their arms, this could indicate that they’re not comfortable in their current position.

Adjust their position or try different surfaces to make tummy time more enjoyable for them.

One good way of doing that is by using a tummy time pillow or a prop.

In the article dedicated to Tummy Time Pillows, you can read more about this wonderful tool that can easily become a toy.

Avoid Accidents

Monitoring your baby during tummy time is crucial for their safety and well-being.

While tummy time is an important activity for a baby’s development, it’s important to remember that babies are not able to control their movements or protect themselves from harm.

As such, parents need to monitor their baby closely during tummy time to prevent accidents.

One of the most important reasons to monitor a baby during tummy time is to prevent suffocation or choking.

Babies who are placed on their stomachs may be at risk of suffocation if they are unable to move their heads or neck to clear their airways.

Another reason to monitor a baby during tummy time is to prevent falls or other accidents.

Babies who are not yet able to roll over or sit up independently may be at risk of falling or getting injured if they are left unattended during tummy time.

Finally, monitoring a baby during tummy time can help create a positive experience for both the baby and the parents.

If a baby has an accident during tummy time, this will create a negative association with this critical activity.

In the future, the baby will refuse it to (naturally) avoid the pain coming with it.

Additionally, parents who can bond with their baby during tummy time can create a positive and nurturing environment that can help strengthen the parent-child relationship.

In conclusion, monitoring a baby during tummy time is essential for their safety, well-being, and development.


Is It Normal For Babies Not To Like Tummy Time?

At the very beginning, it’s expected for babies not to like tummy time.

As they develop and gain strength, their discomfort usually subsides.

To avoid reaching the point when a baby hates tummy time, you already have a lot of solutions above.

What To Do If My Baby Hates Tummy Time?

First, I hope that you reached this article in time and your baby doesn’t hate tummy time.

In case you didn’t, I need to give it to you, it will take additional effort and consistency to overcome it.

That may be for sure.

An entire article can be written about this topic (and probably I will after I will find some real experiences of people getting over it).

If your baby hates tummy time, here is a suggestion though.


My Baby Hates Tummy Time And Rolls Over

If your baby hates tummy time and starts rolling over in an attempt to escape the activity, remain patient and gently guide them back to their tummy.

You can also engage them with toys, make funny faces, or sing songs while they are in the tummy time position to make the experience more tolerable and appealing.

Remember, the key is consistency and patience to build a positive association with tummy time and help your baby develop essential motor skills.

Should I Let My Baby Cry During Tummy Time?

You should avoid letting your baby cry (excessively) during tummy time.

If they reach this point if better to take a break or do something else that they enjoy.

Do not try to distract them just for the sake of keeping them on their tummy.

It’s not gonna work.

However, do not immediately pick them up, as it could create an association about tummy time being an unpleasant activity.

Try to have a conversation with them about what makes them unhappy or if they need something to make them feel better.

What Happens If The Baby Doesn’t Do Tummy Time?

Tummy time is essential for developing various skills, including neck and upper body strength, motor skills, and coordination.

If your baby does not engage in tummy time, he or she may experience delays in meeting these developmental milestones.

Also, by constantly keeping them on their back they can develop flat head syndrome or torticollis.

When To Seek Professional Help

If your baby continues to struggle with tummy time despite the numerous tips and strategies mentioned in this article, it’s essential to seek professional help.

In some cases, an aversion to tummy time may indicate an underlying developmental issue or physical problem that needs addressing.

Here is a list of red flags that may warrant seeking professional help:

  1. Difficulty lifting their head, even after several weeks of consistent tummy time practice
  2. Uneven movement or strength on one side of the body
  3. Excessive fussiness or crying that persists even with gradual increases in tummy time
  4. Delayed development in other areas, such as rolling, sitting, or crawling

If you notice any of these signs, please discuss your concerns with a pediatrician who can guide you on further steps.

A professional can also determine if early intervention services or physical therapy may be necessary.

Key Takeaways

Before we wrap it, let’s have a quick summary of what we’ve learned today to avoid reaching the point when a baby hates tummy time.

An essential aspect to keep in mind is not to rush the process.

Gradually increase the duration of tummy time sessions.

Pushing your baby to spend too much time on their stomach before they are ready may lead to resistance and negative associations with the activity.

The second thing to avoid is forcing your baby into tummy time when they are overly tired or hungry.

Make sure to choose a time when your little one is well-rested and not fussy, as this increases the chances of a positive tummy time experience.

Furthermore, always ensure that your baby is closely monitored during tummy time.

Providing them with engaging toys, as well as offering physical and emotional support, can help create a positive environment for your baby.

I hope I have given you enough information so you don’t reach the stage of “Help! My baby hates tummy time“.

If you have any questions, tips, curiosities, or experiences to share, please use the comments section below.

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