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Tummy Time Baby Play Tips

Learn why tummy time matters, and how to encourage tummy time when your baby hates spending time on their stomach. You might also like this post featuring 10 ways to help kids adjust to a new baby.

Learn why tummy time matters, and how to encourage tummy time when your baby hates tummy time.

My youngest daughter Anna HATED tummy time. This is the face she gave me when we worked on it. Half the time I would give in and pick her up. How can you not, with this face?

Anna's opinion of tummy time

Why Is Tummy Time Important?

It’s tempting to cancel tummy time altogether when you have a baby who feels like this about it!

But lying on their stomach is good for babies. It helps them build muscles.

Over time, spending time on their bellies helps babies learn to hold their head up, and then put their weight on their arms.

It’s the starting point for learning other important skills, like learning how to roll over and crawl.

As babies get better at tolerating time spent lying on their stomachs, they can explore the world around them.

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Tips for Helping Babies Who Don’t like to be on their Tummies

Johnny helps his baby sister with tummy time

Get Down At Their Level During Tummy Time

Five-year-old Johnny knew that Anna is needed to spend more time on her tummy, and he made it his mission to make it fun for her.

Johnny understands about practicing to learn skills – he spent hours and hours working on speech. These days people comment on how beautifully he speaks, but it’s a skill he worked hard to develop!

Give Babies Something to Look At

Johnny got right down on the floor with this baby sister and found fun things for her to look at – like his birthday crown from school!

If you aren’t lucky enough to have a five-year-old in the house, try baby play floor mats like this fun baby play water mat.

Don’t want to buy yet another baby toy? That’s fine! Just spread some of your favorite baby toys on the floor around the baby.

Use Humor to Make Tummy Time Fun

My son did silly things to make her laugh. He also varied the ways he entertained her to keep her distracted from the fact that she was doing something she really doesn’t like!


Anna never did learn to love lying on her belly, but – thanks to my son’s help – she tolerated it, building the muscles she needed to roll over and learn other new skills.

This is just one of the ways in which it is easier to raise four children than one…

What are your top tips for helping reluctant babies tolerate tummy time?

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MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

15 thoughts on “Tummy Time Baby Play Tips”

  1. My daughter was the same. She did not love tummy time at all and winter made it more difficult. But, then I made it a point to have her engaged in other things during tummy time.

  2. Varya @ littleartists

    Adorable! Miss A loves her tummy time and she is a tummy sleeper. Tummy time doesn’t only help their muscles to get stronger but helps them unwind and stretch properly from all the sitting up and laying down!

  3. So sweet! I love that Johnny is so involved with helping Anna and these photos are so precious. Both Anna’s face in that first one and her interaction with Johnny in the others. What a great big brother she has.

  4. Ha ha! I remember that! And the third one was so much easier too because the 2nd one would get down on the floor with his veggietales plush animals and act out stories. Anna’s eyes are just beautiful!

  5. I never ever did tummy time with Otis…from what I read they don’t really need it if you hold them and they have a chance to work their neck muscles. I am so bad and cannot listen to an unhappy baby.

    Anna is so cute with her chubby cheeks! it’s so fun to see how much she looks like your other kids!

  6. Hear hear! I love it how older siblings will spontaneously help younger ones where they see a way they can.

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