If your baby hates tummy time, here is a list of the best tummy time toys to make it more enjoyable from a former Early Intervention therapist and mom of two.
As a parent, you’ve probably been told the importance of tummy time.
Giving babies time to play and lie on their stomachs helps them develop strong neck, back, and arm muscles.
Strong muscles will allow them to reach motor milestones such as sitting up, crawling, and walking.
The World Health Organization recommends that babies should get at least 30 minutes of interactive floor-based tummy time play each day.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests starting with 3-5 minutes about two to three a day and increasing as your baby’s tolerance grows.
Unfortunately, some babies just don’t like lying on their stomachs.
This can make it difficult to get the recommended amount of tummy time each day.
Don’t worry if you have a baby who hates tummy time because I have a solution for you!
Why Does My Baby Hate Tummy Time So Much?
Do you feel like your baby hates tummy time? Do they fuss, whine, or cry whenever you put them down on their bellies? Does your older baby simply roll over onto their back instead of playing tummy down?
This is actually completely normal.
Why do babies hate tummy time?
Well, probably for several reasons.
Babies can have a hard time adjusting to something new
In the first months after birth, infants spend most of their time on their backs (or snuggled up with you).
So it makes sense that a baby would feel scared, upset, or uncomfortable when placed down on their belly.
It’s unfamiliar to them and that can be frightening for a tiny little babe at first.
They can’t see much while on their bellies in the beginning
At first, when they’re unable to lift their heads up and look around, babies can’t see much during tummy time except the floor.
They may cry because they can’t see you, don’t know you’re there, or don’t even know where they are at that moment.
Tummy time also may be physically uncomfortable at first
It’s kind of like exercise for your baby.
I personally have a love-hate relationship with exercise. Even though I know it’s good for me, I still don’t always want to do it.
Think about being a little baby and being forced to exercise, except you don’t know WHY and you have no idea that it’s good for you. That would probably make me cry too!
Lying on their stomach may also cause discomfort in their bellies or could give infants an upset stomach, especially if it’s done soon after having a bottle or nursing.
So, what can you do if your baby cries, fusses, and just doesn’t enjoy tummy time?
What Do I Do If My Baby Hates Tummy Time?
My first piece of advice is don’t force tummy time.
If your baby starts crying while lying on their stomach, they will probably learn to hate this position even more if you continue to put them on their bellies while upset.
Pick them up and try again later when they’re in a happier mood.
There are many different things you can try to help your baby enjoy tummy time more.
You can use alternate positions, have an older sibling help out and play with them on the floor, and switch up the location where you do tummy time.
Another idea is to use interactive and stimulating toys to help motivate them to spend time on their bellies.
If your baby hates tummy time, try putting a fun and engaging toy down where they can see and play with it.
Now, is your baby doomed to never reach their motor milestones if you don’t do tummy time?
Do I still recommend that you try to offer time each day for your baby to play while lying on their stomach?
Tummy time is especially important if your baby is showing any signs of having a developmental or motor delay.
If you are concerned about your baby’s development at all, talk to your pediatrician and contact your local early intervention program.
If you have a newborn or aren’t sure where to begin with tummy time, check out this article: Tummy Time Tips for Newborns.
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What Makes a Good Tummy Time Toy?
As a former early intervention therapist, the toys I usually recommend are timeless, open-ended, and non-battery-operated toys.
However, when it comes to tummy time toys, I am actually a big fan of anything that lights up, makes music, and has bright colors. These types of toys will be entertaining to your baby and help keep them more engaged while doing tummy time.
During tummy time, you want to encourage your baby to lift their head up.
They need to look around and see the world from a different point of view. This will help strengthen their neck and back muscles.
As they get older, you want to see them start to reach with their arms and hands while on their bellies.
Chose toys that will help reach these developmental milestones.
So, what are the best tummy time toys for babies?
Here’s a list of my favorite baby products to get your baby to finally like tummy time!
The Best Tummy time Toys For Babies
1. Flip Fish
I love this flip fish toy to help engage your baby during tummy time.
This is a great first sensory toy with bright colors, different textures, and sounds such as crinkling and squeaking.
This is such a cute water play mat from Haba that can be used to entertain babies during tummy time.
Babies can press on the butterflies to watch them ‘fly’ around in the water. The farmer toy is actually a rattle that can be taken out of his tractor and the pig squeaks when pressed.
Books, books, books.
Little babies will love looking at the black and white pictures in high-contrast books. This is a great activity to help stimulate newborn vision development.
And of course, they’ll love listening to your voice as you read to them.
Tummy time tip: Open the book to a fun page and stand it up in front of your baby. Encourage them to raise their head to look up at the pictures.
4. Rolling Bell
You can gently roll this toy in front of your baby while they’re lying on the belly.
The colors and the noise of the bell rolling around inside this toy will catch your baby’s attention and keep them entertained during tummy time.
Tummy time tip: You can also hold this toy above your baby’s head and shake it to make the bell sound. This will encourage them to raise their head and look up to find the source of the noise.
Use these pull and release cars to zoom by your baby while they’re lying on their tummies.
The noise will help encourage them to look up at the car.
Following the path of the moving car will help your baby practice turning their head from side to side.
Tummy time tip: Use this activity to work on language development too! Before letting the car go, use a verbal routine such as “ready, set, go”. You can also make car sounds as it moves like “zooooom” or “beep beep”.
Related: Find more toys and activities to help you child learn to talk
6. Wobbler Toy
A wobbler toy or roly-poly toy is a great addition for tummy time play. Babies will love watching the toy rock back and forth.
This one from Hape has a built-in bell that tinkles as it moves.
When your baby gets older and starts reaching, they’ll love trying to knock the wobbler down and see it bounce back up.
7. Musical Toy
I mentioned before that I love anything that lights up and makes noise for tummy time.
This Take Along Tunes toy is simple but can provide lots of entertainment for babies (even my 3-year-old still likes to play with it).
Tummy time tip: Hold this toy up in front of your baby during tummy time. Play the music to encourage infants and younger babies to lift their heads and look. For older babies, place it on the floor in front of them. They will love trying to reach for the toy so they can press the button to make the music start.
This soft piano is made to be tied to crib rails so baby can kick at it to make music, but we loved using it for floor time instead.
This is a good tummy time toy for older babies who are starting to reach for toys while lying on their stomachs. My little one loved pressing the piano keys to make music when he was on his belly.
9. Dancing Elmo
This is an ideal tummy time toy because it sings, moves, and lights up which will attract your baby’s attention as they’re lying on the floor. M
y son was fascinated with this dancing Elmo when he was a baby. He would lift his head up as high as he could to watch it move. I love how much it entertained him while he played on his stomach.
10. O ball
An O-ball is an excellent toy for babies of all ages from newborn and up because it’s so easy for tiny fingers to grasp.
This one with the built-in rattle makes a noise that will help entice newborn infants to look toward it.
For older babies, gently roll the ball toward them so they can try to reach out and grab it.
11. Tummy Time Mat
While it’s not exactly a toy, this mat from Tiny Love has a lot of additions that can help make tummy time more fun.
It comes with a mirror and some other sensory toys and teethers attached to the mat for fun play.
I love that you can easily fold it up to take with you when traveling or visiting so you can let your baby play on their stomach wherever you go!
Feeling creative? Here are some awesome DIY baby toys for tummy time play.
Final Thoughts On The Best Tummy Time Toys for Babies Who Hate Tummy Time
Babies might not always enjoy lying on the floor to play on their stomachs. Some babies may even seem like they hate tummy time. If your baby doesn’t like being in this position, try motivating them with some of these fun toys.
For more tips on helping your newborn enjoy tummy time, go here.
For more tips on helping your 3-6 month old enjoy tummy time, go here.
Does your baby hate tummy time? What do they do when you put them on their stomach? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to help figure out how to make tummy time more fun for your baby!