I Hate Forced Tummy Time – 7 Alternatives That I Love!

I Hate Forced Tummy Time – 7 Alternatives That I Love!

Please note that I’m not a medical professional. Just a mama who questions most conventional “wisdom” and “norms”. Join me in examining one of the most popular “norm” – tummy time.

Let me just start out by saying I HATE forced tummy time! Why might you ask? Everyone says how great it is! Everyone asks how many minutes a day our baby is doing it! It must be great. Pshhh . I’m not convinced whatsoever.

Caveman Parenting Practices

Here’s my stance on it: cavemen weren’t doing it (you’ll notice I reference a lot of my day-to-day parenting and living practices based on our ancestors, because, I believe, they lived in a way that naturally supported and aligns with their/our genetic makeup).

Let’s rewind 30 years (okay I’m dating myself here ) to my childhood. My mom never told me about my tummy time adventures (interesting to note because she was the most vocal about being opposed to my husband and I not doing tummy time with our newborn) and that’s because tummy time really only came about after the push for safe sleeping on backs campaign in the 1990s. Read more about it here.

This campaign saved a lot of lives! SIDS rates decreased by about 50%! But, there was an unintended consequence of this sleeping practice; flattened skulls from too much time on babies’ backs. So to compensate, tummy time was introduced.

The benefits of having babies up, off of the back of their heads are important. I’ve seen babies with skulls that have flattened due to them laying on their backs for too long. This is a serious condition. So I knew that while I hated tummy time, I needed to implement something else that would mimic the benefits without the unintended harm.

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Why I Hate Forced Tummy Time

The biggest drawback to tummy time for me was that my baby hated it. He screamed at the top of his lungs (probably because instinctively he knew if he lied face down, he could suffocate). Note, this is also why I don’t give my baby a bath and choose to shower him instead). I’m not going to ignore his instinctual call to avoid this activity. I feel like ignoring his programmed code and trying to recondition him not to have a fear response tells him I know better than you). I’m not willing to compromise our relationship for something that I can provide him with other methods.  I want him to know that if he is communicating “I don’t like this” (and this isn’t something that is going to save his life and there are no other workarounds) then I’m not doing it. Period.

Now my baby is five months and is okay with tummy time, so we put him on his belly for however long he wants. I look for his cues to tell me when he is done.

Our Pseudo Support Systems

In general, I think we’ve become reliant on our “items”. I’m guilty of it too *raises hand*. As mamas, we need breaks! We’re doing this sometimes alone, sometimes with one or two others. It’s rough! Being a mama to a baby is lonely at times (okay a lot of the times). Returning back to our ancestors, they took turns holding babies. They didn’t have mechanical swings to rock babies, they held them in their arms.

So now, since we don’t have a village like they did to support one another, our swings have become our support system.


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Alternatives to Tummy Time

So knowing that I was NOT going to do tummy time, I put together an unofficial plan that got our baby off the back of his head while also strengthening his neck:

– Playing in his Exersaucer (when he was only a month old, I would hold him in it for sometimes just seconds to get him acclimated to it. Then I gradually built up, so long as he was enjoying it.)

– Being held in our arms (this is where the majority of his time was spent)

– Holding him upright with his face close to our collarbone (he really hates being held like a baby lol)

– Belly-to-belly with mama or dad (he strengthened his arms and neck without any objection to this)

– Standing

– Practice sitting

– Carrying him everywhere

While tummy time does strengthen their necks and gets them off their backs, I want to highlight that there are other ways to protect our babies, promote development, and strengthen bonding via other methods that I mentioned above.

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Now it’s your turn to share! What conventional practices just didn’t feel right to you, and how did you find a workaround? Comment below :)!

Infinite love and light,


Author: J Kontos

Hi! I’m J; a full-time Mama by choice and a part-time academic, personal, and career counselor by profession (and by choice as well). I received my Master’s in Counseling and a Bachelor’s in Human Services. My infant, Kaiden, has gifted me with being his Mama. I love all things wiener dogs, coffee, and hearts. I’m waiving hi to you from sunny San Diego!
Infinite love and light, – J

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