Tummy time signifies an exciting time in your infant’s life! It helps to stretch out an infant’s hips and shoulders, improves head control, and helps activate back muscles to get the child ready to sit. Tummy time is also important because it gives your child time without weight and pressure on their developing skull. Being on their stomach allows for learning coordination of movement between the arms and legs, too, to help with getting ready to crawl, climb, and walk!
What To Do If Infant Doesn’t Like Tummy Time
Helping your child to develop tolerance to the prone position can be tough, but persistence is key. Allow your child to fuss a little before you help them out of the position. Consistent practice should lead to increased tolerance, meaning they will start to enjoy being on their tummy for longer. You can also try distractions like using siblings, singing songs, or well-trained pets to help your child enjoy being on their stomach because they get a free show!
Less Obvious Tummy Time Positions
Laying On Your Chest
This position is simple! When you hold your child against you, lay them chest-to-chest. This way, as you slouch down and sink into your couch, your child is getting used to being more horizontal in prone while getting the comfort of your body heat and smell while being held.
Being Held On Your Forearms On Their Tummy
This position can be tricky to get used to for you, but a lot of infants find it fun! Allow one arm and one leg on either side of your forearm with their head close to your elbow and their bottom in your hand. As you become more comfortable, this is a great one-arm carrying that allows your other arm to be free! It also makes for easy butt pats if a child is fighting nap time.
Laying On a Wedge
Always make sure their head is near the top! This position is similar to having the child lay on your chest. It allows gravity to help make their head a little lighter, making it easier for the child to lift their head while on their tummy. It also helps settle their weight towards their hips which will allow for improved weight bearing through their arms and eventually helps with reaching on their tummy as well as rolling.
Placing a Towel at the Nipple Line
We recommend using a small towel, like a clean dish towel or a burp cloth. You roll it up into a towel roll and place it at the child’s nipple line with the arms over the towel roll. This helps to give the shoulders some support while they are developing the strength to hold themselves up.
Don’t Forget Side-Lying!
This is another important position for your baby! Side-lying helps your little one find their hands, learn how to lift their head against gravity, and improves co-contraction of their back and stomach muscles needed for rolling, sitting balance, and crawling. To help your little one attain and maintain side-lying, bring all toys to one side so they look in that direction. Then, help them to roll onto their side. They may need help bringing their arm with them – and that’s ok! Once here, you can help them stay in this position simply by holding on to their hip. If they begin to fuss, let go of the hip and watch them learn how to roll back onto their back or belly.
If you think your child may need physical therapy, request a phone consult with one of our pediatric physical therapists in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Performance Physical Therapy has a team of pediatric physical therapists who can help your child reach their movement and function goals.