Tummy time: how to help your baby get comfortable on his belly

If your baby’s used to sleeping on his back, that’s wonderful—sleeping on his back reduces your child’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). But during waking hours, tummy time is essential from day one. Experts find that babies who don’t spend time face-down often have some delays in their development of motor skills.

It’s hard work for your baby to keep his head up when he’s on his tummy, and he can’t see much of anything down there. He may even feel abandoned. Here are some strategies for helping your baby feel at home on his tummy, along with products that can help.

Keep your baby company. One mom-tested strategy is to distract your baby from the unfamiliar feeling of being face-down until he gets used to it. The best thing you can do is join your baby on the floor. Encourage him, talk with him, shake his rattle, make funny faces, play peekaboo.

Provide entertainment. Prop a book open in front of your baby or place a favorite toy within reach. Invest in a tummy-time toy or gym designed especially for babies to play with while on their belly.

Time it right. Make sure your baby isn’t hungry or tired when you set him tummy-down. On the other hand, don’t place him on a full belly, which might be uncomfortable.

Tune in to your baby. Try to figure out if there’s anything in particular about tummy time that your baby finds distressing. Maybe his blankie gets too scrunched under him for comfort (and that shag carpet is downright scary). Maybe it’s too cold on the floor, or too slippery. Try to adjust whatever it is that causes your baby stress during tummy time.