Tummy Time Alternatives

Baby chiropractor performing tummy time alternative on baby
Does your baby hate tummy time? Try our tummy time alternatives & stretches for simple ways to implement this position in ‘babes that hate tummy time’! 

WHY is Tummy Time so IMPORTANT?!

Tummy positioning is so important for your baby's early development. But remeber, it is a WORKOUT for your babe! When your baby practices tummy time, they are developing neck strength and head control. It actually helps develop the neck [cervical] curve! Along with neck strength, tummy time also encourages upper body strength especially in the back and shoulders. This strength helps them to meet big developmental milestones like rolling and crawling.

In addition to the strength benefits, tummy time promotes visual, motor, and sensory development. To learn more about the benefits of tummy time, CLICK HERE.

Your babe can start practicing tummy time as a newborn! Babies that can be comfortable on their tummies are less likely to develop conditions like plagiocephaly [flat spots] and torticollis [head preference].

As your little one gets more active and begins to crawl [7-9 months], they will likely be too busy to hang out in tummy time for too long! 

Alternatives if Your Baby Hates Tummy Time: 

If your baby hates tummy time, try the alternatives we share below! We recommend starting with short increments of tummy time as your babe tolerates. This may only be 1-2 minutes at first so focus on frequency rather than dwelling on duration! As they gain strength they will be able to tolerate longer durations! 

All of these techniques are great for babies suffering from reflux or infants who appear 'tight' or 'rigid'.

1. Football Hold Tummy Time Alternative

We love baby football hold for a lot of reasons. One being the fact that is a sneaky alternative to tummy time that MOST babes enjoy. If your babe is arching and can't seem to relax over your arm, you can guide them gently by flexing or bending their pelvis. Babe should MELT in your arms! 

Baby football hold tummy time

2. Chest to Chest Tummy Time

Instead of laying babe on the floor for tummy time, try laying them on your chest! This is a great opprotunity to also get skin-to-skin time, which your babe will absolutely love!! 

3. Tummy Time on a Boppy

You could also use a Boppy, a blanket, or pillow to prop babe up on the floor so they can look around easier and develop neck strength. Another option is to rest babe across your lower leg or thigh, but a Boppy provides a softer surface, which babies tend to enjoy. You could position a mirror or toys in front of them to encourage upper body mobility.

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4. Exercise Ball Alternative

Get your birthing ball back out and use it to get tummy time in with your babe! The exercise ball is rounded and they often prefer it to the floor. It's another soft surface to try if your baby hates tummy time!

**Make sure you hold onto your babe with this one and do not let go!**

BONUS: you can also use your ball to challenge your little one’s core strength! This is demonstrated in the video above! 

Stretches that Improve Tummy Time Tolerance

If your babe is still struggling, even with our tummy time alternatives, then you may need to help them stretch a bit! We have included two of our favorites that help babes who hate tummy time. If you are looking for more, be sure to visit our KIDZ TECHNIQUES page.

Pelvic Stretch

Stretch their hip flexors by bending their knee and applying a light amount of pressure to the inside of their hip bone. This can be especially helpful if you are noticing a lot of arching or throwing back during your babe’s tummy time!


C-Curve Stretch

You can do this stretch with babe laying on their back or laying in your lap. The goal is to ~basically~ make a C-shape with their body by stretching between their hip and shoulder. If your baby has reflux, you will likely noticed that their LEFT side body feels much tighter or stickier than their RIGHT side body.

Reverse Tummy Time

The ‘guppy pose’ or ‘reverse tummy time’ is more of a stretch than a ‘tummy time alternative’. It won’t challenge strength in the same way that tummy time will, but it can help stretch the front of the body to improve tummy time tolerance. This position promotes extension in fussy and tight babies. It is also a great position to practice in babies with tongue ties [pre- frenectomy and post-frenectomy]! Be sure to support your baby's head in this position. For more instructions, watch this video

Diaphragm Tightness & Tummy Time

If your baby is dealing with excessive spit up or infant reflux, it’s not uncommon for them to also HATE being on their tummy. One thing that can be helpful for these babes is to work on any diaphragm tightness that may be making tummy time uncomfortable. The diaphragm sits up under the rib cage and its our primary breathing muscle. Because if it’s close ties to the esophagus and stomach, it can play a role in infant reflux symptoms.

There are a few ways you can help ‘relax’ your baby’s diaphragm. When babe is resting on their tummy, use two fingers under the front of the rib cage and gently lift up. 

Working on football hold and the other tummy time alternatives we have reviewed can also be very beneficial for babes with infant reflux! To learn more about how chiropractic may improve your infant’s reflux, CLICK HERE.

Medical Disclaimer:

All information, content, and material of this website is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.*

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out with questions//thoughts surrounding this topic!