Card image cap

If you’re asking yourself, “Why does my baby hate tummy time?” you’re not alone. It’s incredibly common for parents, especially first-time parents, to feel a sense of guilt when their baby hates tummy time. If your baby cries up a storm, rest assured it’s common for babies to feel this way. Before we get into why babies are prone to crying during tummy time, let’s break it down and look at what tummy time is.

What is newborn tummy time?

Tummy time is when you place your baby on their stomach to play while supervised. This helps strengthen the growth and development of their muscles, including their neck, shoulders, back and hips. Their muscle development is essential for all those exciting moments parents want to be a part of, like their bub’s first roll, crawl, the first time they sit or stand, and even their first precious steps. Needless to say, not all babies are fans of tummy time!

Why does my baby hate tummy time?

Just like we as adults don’t always respond well to change at first, if your baby hates tummy time and rolls over, it could be because lifting their head is difficult. Their neck muscles have not fully developed, making it quite challenging for your bub. Think of it this way, if you went to the gym for the first time and tried lifting the heaviest dumbbells, you would struggle. By setting a more achievable goal, you’re more likely to succeed. The same goes for your bub!

While giving up on tummy time might be tempting to stop your little one from crying, it’s not the right solution. We’ve put together a handy list of strategies to help make tummy time a fun and achievable experience for your baby and yourself.

Top tips if your baby hates tummy time

Starting tummy time in your newborn’s early days will better your chances of integrating it into their everyday routine more easily. That said, it’s never too late to start!

If your child isn’t a fan of tummy time, do not fret. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Tummy time doesn’t have to be the traditional method of having your bub lay on their stomach on their playmat. We understand how challenging it can be, particularly for first-time parents, when your little one is having a hard time. Here are some steps you can take to approach tummy time a little differently and hopefully achieve some different results:

  • Chest-to-chest bonding — If your baby hates tummy time and rolls over, what better way to do tummy time than to have your bub lay on you, chest-to-chest. It’s the ultimate bonding experience, which can even turn into a beautiful nap for the child. Even better, if you have more than one child, have your older child bond with their new addition to the family over some much-needed tummy time. What better way to bring your children closer together?
  • Walk and hold your baby — For a fun spin on newborn tummy time, carefully position your baby by laying them face down across your arm while you slowly walk them around the house. Not only will the slow movement calm down your child, but having them interact with different areas around the house will provide them with cognitive stimulation and help them grow more aware of their surroundings. Make sure you rotate your bub from one arm to another at intervals, so you don’t strain your muscles.
  • It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It's a super baby! — Like the “walk and hold” method, support your bub with their belly above your forearm and fly them across the room like an aeroplane! Smile at the sound of your child’s infectious laughter and have fun while giving them the support they need to develop their neck muscles.
  • Read to your bub — Combine newborn tummy time with storytime! As soon as they exhibit distress during tummy time, bring out their favourite book and start reading. This way, you can distract them with a task that will promote their brain development and imagination, help develop their language skills and emotions and build your relationship with them. Before you know it, storytime will become an anticipated tradition shared with your bub. Spend quality time together and spark your child’s imagination while they go great lengths of time on their tummy to aid muscle development.

  • Sing a song — Babies learn by example. If your baby hates tummy time, why not join them? Lie on your stomach in front of your baby face-to-face, and comfort them with a soothing lullaby or nursery rhyme. Even if it’s a few precious minutes where they listen to the song and remain on their stomach, it’s a win! Small steps like this every day, or for small increments several times a day, make a large difference in the long run.
  • Play games — Expecting a child to lay on their tummy with no other stimulation is a recipe for disaster. Just like we as adults require a means of motivation, whether it be exercise or work, children also need some form of entertainment to prevent boredom. Take a fun break from your day, and play a round of peek-a-boo with your little one using a colourful scarf or tea towel to entertain them with its colours. Opt for a fun toy for those busy days to keep them entertained in this position while you supervise. 


  • Use a prop for added support — It’s important to remember that it can be difficult for your bub to lift their head when they’re on their tummy since their neck muscles still need to develop further. Placing a rolled-up towel or blanket beneath their chest will give them additional support to make tummy time a little easier. You would be surprised at how quickly your child will begin to enjoy tummy time once they get some practice. Alternatively, try a therapy ball beneath your bub’s tummy while you sit behind them and rock them back and forth or side to side for a calming effect. 

  • Massage the back of their pelvis — Placing some downward pressure on the back of their pelvis will effectively alleviate some pressure from your bub’s chest to help them raise their head. To get the support that you need to learn the proper techniques to perform a baby massage, who better to reach out to than the experts in Baby Massage at the Infant Massage Information Service?


Baby Massage — the best infant massage training in Australia

Give your bub a safe and effective pelvic massage to aid their tummy time. There are many factors to consider, from which oils are safest to apply to your baby’s skin to the proper baby massage techniques. Whether you’re a first-time parent or not, there’s no harm in getting support from a professional Certified Infant Massage Instructor or Paediatric Massage Consultant trained by the Infant Massage Information Service (IMIS).
We are the largest provider of infant massage training and have the most extensive membership base for infant massage instructors in Australia.

Get started today and explore our parenting courses if you wish for our Certified Infant Massage Instructors and Paediatric Massage Consultants to train you in baby massage techniques. Our team will provide you with a free referral to a qualified instructor or consultant who will take you through an hour-long introductory session or a four-session parenting course. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us. We’d be happy to help!