5 Tricks to Keeping Your Baby Happy During Tummy Time

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Tummy Time.

Screaming. Fussing. Lots of face-planting. In my household, this activity is more commonly known as baby torture.

I’m so tired of talking about tummy time. I hate it. My baby hates it. And if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re in the same boat.

I understand the importance of laying your baby down on his tummy. It helps to build that upper body/back strength so he can crawl, he gets to practice pushing off of things with his legs so he learns to move, and he gets used to shuffling those chubby thighs (god bless ’em) under his even chubbier belly. In short, it’s all about setting your baby up for mobility.

The reasoning behind tummy time makes total sense. However, my baby HATES it which makes me hate it, too. Therefore, I find it hard to enforce. See, I not only am a stay-at-home mom but I work full-time from home, too. The only way my baby boy is the slightest bit okay with tummy time is if I am down on my tummy with him. And even then, I’m lucky to get five minutes out of him before all hell breaks loose.

At my last pediatric appointment, the doctor told me that my son should be practicing his tummy techniques for HALF OF THE TIME THAT HE IS AWAKE. Insert blank stare here. My first thought was how unrealistic is this woman? I bet she didn’t do tummy time half of the day with her babies. My second thought was how can I do my job if I am spending half of my day on my tummy with the baby? No way that a day care would be this attentive to tummy time. However, after the shock of that statement wore off, I came to realize the point that she was trying to make…tummy time should be done more often than I was doing it.  So the question became, how can I set my baby up for success while still getting work done? Finally (after lots of trial and error), I’ve come up with a few successful tricks for making a fussy baby not-so-fussy during tummy time:

1. Give that kid a mirror. Every time my baby spots himself in a mirror it brings an instant smile to his face (he’s vain like the rest of us). He loves to look at himself, to talk to himself, and to see every expression that crosses his face. This mirror will keep him occupied for hours…or maybe just a few minutes!

2. Think high. Place an object by baby that he will have to look up to see (not too high of course) or hang one from his play mat. The high object will draw baby’s eyes (and head) upwards which encourages him to tilt to one side. Before you know it, wallah! your baby might just roll over all by himself. Isn’t that the point anyway?

3. Make noise. Whether you lay an overpriced piece of crinkly fabric within babies reach or you lay a sheet of wax paper instead, the noise that your kiddo can make with an object like this is super fun for him! Not only will he be working on limb movement and hand-eye coordination, but he will begin to learn cause and effect of his actions as well as explore new sounds!

4. Lay down a burp cloth. There is nothing more disgusting than a pile of spit up sinking into the depths of your carpet. Think you wiped it all up? Wait until you’re up for a midnight feeding and the carpet squishes between your toes. Cringe worthy. The burp cloth serves double duty, really. It’s a much nicer place for baby to lay his head when his neck gets tired and not only is it softer, but I like to think of it as a barrier between the carpet chemicals and him. An extra bonus: the colorful patterns will help keep baby’s attention.

5. Interact. Now, I know this post was meant to be all about what to do for baby so you didn’t have to be face to face during tummy time. However, I find that encouraging sounds from a familiar voice and an occasional back rub help him to stay happy longer. If you have more time to spend with your baby, try placing your hands under his feet and let him learn to push-off. This shows him that he will soon be a moving machine!

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