10 Tips for Babies Who Hate Tummy Time

Does your baby protest every time you lay him on his tummy? It can be so hard to watch your precious baby scream when you’re just trying to do what the doctor recommended to avoid torticollis and to improve neck muscle strength. Early intervention has been an invaluable asset in working with my premature daughter, and I learned some great tummy time tips to help make this time a little less miserable.

Great tummy time tips for getting your baby to tolerate tummy time!

Lay your baby on mom or dad’s chest.

What better motivator is there for your little one than to let them practice tummy time on mommy’s (or daddy’s) chest? Lay flat on your back, either on the floor or on the bed. Lay your baby belly down on your chest and shower them with kisses and praise while they work!

10 Tips for Babies Who Hate Tummy Time #tummytime #parenting

Go sledding.

I pulled my daughter around on a “sled” (just a large, flat piece of cardboard. Actually, a tri-fold board would be perfect!) and slowly pulled her all over the floor to make it fun.

Put mirrors in front of the baby or have baby lay on a baby safe mirror.

Babies love looking in the mirror, not realizing it’s their own reflection. This can be a fun distraction.

Keep your voice excited and avoid pity.

If you let pity show in your voice, then you’re portraying to your baby that they are right, this is a terrible task! Use a light-hearted tone and talk to your baby.

Try getting down to their level.

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip. If you get down on the ground with your baby, they will feel less isolated and see it as fun time with mommy or daddy.

Drape baby over a stuffed animal.

This was another last resort that worked for us. Olivia got a Flip Pet as a gift and she liked cuddling with it and laying on it. I decided to use that momentum and drape her over the stuffed animal. Other ideas include a Boppy, a folded towel, or a pillow. With all of these, this should be heavily supervised.

Use bribery motivation.

I only let my daughter play with my phone or watch nursery rhyme youtube videos when she’s doing tummy time. Find something that your baby loves and limit it, bringing it out for special occasions such as when your baby hates doing tummy time.

Place your baby on their tummy for a few minutes every time you put them on changing table.

This was a tip from my daughter’s early intervention special instructor that I found useful. You can do it anywhere from a minute or so to start to a few minutes every time you change their diaper. This gives you short, but frequent, tummy time practice spread out throughout the day. (Coincidentally, this makes tolerating the upset a little easier too). Then just flip them back onto their back and change the diaper! If the diaper is a doozy, do it in reverse!

Count down so they learn the end is coming.

Your baby may not understand right away, but use the same key phrases such as counting down from five to one. My favorite was saying the same set of phrases every time:

  1. “You’re doing great!”
  2. “Just a little longer.”
  3. “Almost done!”
  4. then, “All done!”

After a few times, I could tell she understood for the most part, as she’d settle down when I said “All done!”

Make it fun for you!

Ok, this last one is more of a bonus. It’s hard to hear your baby cry, knowing you caused it (but it’s well worth it, mama!). When my daughter was born, there was this trend going around of taking a picture of your baby naked on their tummy with a peach over their bum. It was SO adorable, I just had to do it. Take a fun picture that you can look back on and smile when the stress is getting you down.

Obviously, what works for some people will not work for others. Pick and choose, mix and match and find what works best for you and your precious baby. Remember the benefits of tummy time and that it will get easier. Before you know it, your baby will be on the way to crawling!

What worked for your baby to make tummy time more tolerable? 


  1. Both of my boys hated tummy time, but they loved laying on our chests. Also when they were really little i would carry them gently laying on their tummies on my arms, It was a great way to help them get used to the idea. Also the dog sometimes would lay down and watch them while they had tummy time. They both love looking at the dog and liked getting her attention as well.

  2. Tummy time wasn’t too bad for my son once we started encouraging him and putting his favorite toy in front of him. Whatever works !

  3. My kids always loved tummy time . But have seen many moms struggling with this issue. I loved your tips you shared here.

  4. wow these are great tips and both my kids hated tummy time too! i wish i had known some of these before!

  5. Great tips especially love the sled and stuffed bear idea. My daughter hated tummy time and we ran out of ways, I’ll have to keep this in mind for #2.

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