This question is a prevalent one that we ask ourselves once we are home and want to follow the rules to the latter. Has your baby refused tummy time? Well, you are not alone.
Tummy time is the act of placing your tot in the prone position to encourage the development of the neck muscles, arms, and trunk muscles and prevent skull deformation while awake and supervised. It is necessary for the baby’s muscle development and especially the upper body muscles.
From a health and wellness standpoint, the earliest days of infancy are among the most important; therefore, finding alternatives to tummy time has never been more vital. These tummy time alternatives are vital in making tummy time fun.
Yes! You read right. There are other alternatives for strengthening the baby’s neck without tummy time, although as your cute one develops, you might still need to find a way for your baby to get some floor time.
It is important to understand why you should establish a tummy time routine for your child. Parents may begin tummy time in kids at any age, from as early as bringing your child back home.
Before we go through the different types of activities that aren’t tummy time yet provide the same thing as tummy time, first, let’s understand the objectives of tummy time.
- This position helps most babies develop strong neck and shoulder muscles facilitating the development of motor skills.
- Tummy time for your young one will help avoid developing flat head spots, i.e., positional plagiocephaly  from always lying on their back.
- Tummy time also allows young babies to develop their sensory absorption, i.e., your babies get to feel the different textures on their arms, hands, chest, and cheek.
- This position goes a long way in letting your infant try out new positions as they try reaching out for things.
- Tummy time position is effective in that as your baby moves and weight shifts. They gain a sense of body awareness.
- Although your baby hates tummy time, this position helps many babies coordinate hand-eye development.
A particular key benefit to tummy time is strong neck development. You may wonder, when do babies’ necks stabilize? When your baby turns 3 months old, their necks start gaining strength and they stabilize.  However, when your 3-month-old hates tummy time, you will need to find ways to make it fun for them to maintain all the tummy time benefits.
Tummy time exercises will help your young one hit their milestones without delay. You can’t help but wonder; should I let my baby cry during tummy time?
Most infants will tend to scream during tummy time to get you to lift them. Without a doubt, this position is not comfortable for them. Your tot tries to lift their head or push up with arms to look around without success.
Your baby will take up to crying during tummy time as they do not feel secure in this position, and most probably, you have not made it fun, but you are just following it as a rule of thumb.
Another thing that will most probably trigger the yells from your tot is that it is still a very new position for them. It would be best to start tummy training them as early as they are born. Slowly but surely, it will become a habit.
Other great alternative tummy time activities and positions will help your baby neck strengthening exercises. Here are ways of how to strengthen baby neck without tummy time:
Is babywearing an alternative to tummy time? Yes! With the right type of baby carrier like the Moby or Boba wrap, to a soft-structured carrier like the Lillebaby Complete All Seasons carrier, parents wearing their babies will also be as effective as your infant spending time on their belly.
Babywearing puts your young one in an upright position, helping develop many of the same neck and back muscles essential in developing your young one’s motor skills.
Babywearing is beneficial for both parents and toddlers as they get to continue and strengthen their bond with the involved touch. It also helps with baby neck exercises as your little one struggles to look at your pretty face and surroundings. If you walk around with the baby, it will also help you get in your exercise and chores.
Baby on Chest
Of course, your infant hates tummy time, but they do not mind lying on you! Lie down flat, or you can use a pillow to prop yourself up. Place your baby on your chest, ensuring you and the baby are face to face where you can have eye contact – seeing your young one’s smile that way will be heart-warming.
Engage children while they rest on your chest, trying to lift them from their underarms. This way, they will also try to maintain that position by putting weight on their arms and keeping their heads raised, strengthening their neck and back.
Prop Child Up
How you may ask? With the arms of your young one stretched in front, provide support with a rolled-up pillow or blankets putting your baby’s chest up. This way, your baby can look around instead of only concentrating on the floor. The incline your child is on gives them joy as they can try reaching out with their arms as they also engage their necks.
Baby On Shins
When your baby hates tummy time, lay on your back and lift your shins perpendicularly to the floor. Carefully place baby on your shins with their tummy down. You can make this fun for them by swinging your knees.
Engage them in this position as you ensure to hold them firmly on their arms and side. You can sway them gently or lift your legs. It will create a flying feeling for your young one, which is exciting, and in turn, enhances your parent-child bond as well.
Place baby face down across your lap. Putting a hand on the baby’s bum will help steady and calm them. You can place baby toys on the floor for the baby to try and reach for them; baby mirrors will also work magic as their reflection entertains your young one. This alternative tummy time position is also great for soothing a fussy baby and burping them.
If your baby screams during tummy time, you can try the alternative of laying them on their side. You have to keep turning them from side to side to ensure they do not lay only on one side.
Put them with their arms in front and baby laying on their side supported with rolled-up blankets or towels behind and under their heads. You can lay beside them and entertain them, so they do not get bored.
This position of front carrying your young one helps them feel safe and secure as they get to interact and learn your face. Lie down or prop your upper body and let your toddler lay tummy down on your lower chest. Engage them in this position by activities that draw their attention.
So your baby doesn’t like tummy time? An alternative is to hold the baby in your arms by positioning one hand under the tummy and between your little one’s legs and carry them stomach down. You can use your other hand to support the baby’s head and neck. Nestle the young one close to your body as it helps them get accustomed.
Baby refuses tummy time, but we know it is crucial. Your child loves suckling. Use the antigravity breastfeeding position!
Tummy minute also works well after baths when you oil the young ones back and diaper change. That one tummy minute after every diaper change will add up to more time by the end of the day without making it too much time.
How To Improve Tummy Time for My Baby?
You can make tummy time more fun and engaging for your young one, reducing the baby cries during tummy time.
- Surround your young ones with their favorite toys: Place their favorite toys in front of them and on their sides, forming a semicircle. As they try to reach for them, they will be engaged, forgetting they are on their tummy. Many parents set up a dedicated play space for this purpose.
- Use of playmats: You can up your baby’s tummy time by the use of play mats. Use eye-catching rugs that will interest your baby as they try to reach specific drawings or toys which are bright colored.
- Get involved: Let your baby lay on their belly and it would help if you also got involved. Talk to your child, lie in front of them, and entertain them with songs, rattles making children not concentrate on their position.
- Prop baby: When the baby is doing tummy time, you can make it more comfortable for them by propping them under the arms with a blanket. It becomes easier for them to move their arms. As they get used to this position, try to wean out the prop.
- Massage baby’s feet: Since toddlers’ feet are ticklish, you can massage them while doing tummy time to distract them.
- Use of different tummy times positions: As earlier stated, incorporating different tummy time positions will make tummy time tolerable. E.g., a diaper change on a non-toxic changing pad might be the best time to do tummy time.
What happens if you don’t do tummy time? The lack of tummy time for your young one will mean your kiddo is not meeting motor skills milestones, has higher chances of developing flattened skull, eye tracking problems, neck muscle imbalance (head tilt) – these are some of the complications your baby might have.
That said, allow your cute one some floor time as it is essential for their development and in your baby’s neck strength. And always remember, it’s back to sleep and tummy to play.
I hope this article is helpful. Does your baby hate tummy time? How do you deal with it? Comment below as we would love to know.