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My baby hates tummy time; will she crawl?

by Kerryn on November 25th, 2010

Georgina really hates being on her tummy. Sometimes she will start crying straight away and other times I can grab her attention and manage to occupy her for 2 or 3 minutes max. We’ve tried putting a rolled up towel under her chest, placing her over the feeding pillow, putting her on our chests, resting her against our inclined legs, singing, dancing, squeaking toys and making ridiculous noises, but regardless of what we do she will start wailing. She just doesn’t seem to enjoy it.

Tummy time is stressed so often that I can’t help but feel that we have to get this right. At the same time I don’t believe in letting G cry unnecessarily, so am not really sure what to do. From chatting to other moms and a few searches online it seems as though a lot of babies hate time on their tummies.

I thought that I would look into why it is so important. Most of what I have found shows that it helps your baby to develop major muscles that she needs to hold her head up and to help her prepare for crawling. It also helps to prevent a flat spot on the back of the head from always sleeping on her back.

Georgie has been sitting unassisted for a couple of months now. When I am holding her in a standing position she will bend forward and reach for a toy from the floor and then straighten herself back up. So I am not too worried about the strength of her neck and back muscles.  She isn’t bearing any weight on her arms however, so isn’t developing any strength there. Also because she spends so much of her awake time sitting I don’t think that I need to worry about her developing a flat spot on her head. So really my only concern is that she may not learn to crawl and that can be quite a big deal from what I have read.

Some info that I’ve found state that babies who don’t crawl, or who don’t crawl for long before walking, seem to be at risk for learning problems later in life. There is also the possibility of developing ADHD and/or dyslexia.  Crawling teaches a baby how to focus on short range and long range objects (i.e from her hands to something across the room). This is important later in life when your child is sitting at a school desk and writing from the blackboard. Although other info that I’ve read states that children who don’t crawl aren’t at any disadvantage with learning later on in life, provided that they develop some method of moving like bottom shuffling/scooting. I was really relieved to hear that until a friend of mine who is a qualified special needs teacher told me that the vast majority of children in her special needs class never crawled, but rather scooted along on their bottoms!

I have heard of a number of babies that learn to crawl from a seated position. So I am putting a lot of exciting things out of G’s reach (like the TV remote) in an effort to get her interested in moving. I know that there is no need for us to panic, Georgie is only 7.5 months, but I do feel like I am going to have to make more of an effort to encourage tummy time and crawling from a seated position.

For more details on the importance of crawling have a look at these links:

From → Crawling

  • PathwaysMom

    You’re right – Tummy Time is important for babies to strengthen upper body, neck and core muscles and to avoid flat spots. But at 7 ½ months, it is difficult to convince a baby who can sit unsupported to spend time on their tummy! Instead, provide plenty of opportunities for floor time for your LO. Place toys around for her to move, scoot and crawl to. Put them all around her to encourage reaching in all directions. You can use colorful toys or pictures, or a baby-proof mirror, since babies like to look at themselves. Make sure you avoid bouncers, walkers and even high chairs as much as possible. By keeping baby free from being confined, she will gain strength by learning to transition from back to tummy, tummy to all fours, etc. Crawling, or some form of crawling, generally happens around 9 months of age. So, you have some time to work towards that and other age-appropriate milestones. No panic needed! For more information on what to expect as your baby grows, check out this unique growth and development chart from Pathways Awareness: Pathways also has a personalized developmental calendar of activities you can do with your LO to foster her growth:

  • Kerryn

    Thanks so much for this advice and the links. I’ve been putting toys at the limit of Georgie’s reach for just over a week now and have definitely noticed an improvement in her reaching to get them. There are still no signs that she wants to move for things that are outside of her reach yet, but hopefully that will come with time. We’ll just take baby steps I guess :)

  • Gauri

    Hi, I mentioned on my blog that I have been going to a Magda Gerber inspired ‘Discover Your Baby’ group. One of the great things I learnt from the instructor there (who used to be the Director of a Montessori school, too, and has years of experience) is to follow the baby’s lead. If she doesn’t like tummy time don’t force it but at the same time it might be helpful to avoid sitting her up too much if she hasn’t yet mastered the ability to get into a sitting position herself – this is also not ‘natural’ in a sense.

    I had never seen it this way but after she mentioned this I stopped sitting my child up and instead put her on her back more and let her stretch/reach, roll around and swing her legs from side to side – that is the stuff that builds core muscles as you’ll know from yoga or pilates, I am sure. Within literally days she started crawling (doing the belly crawl at first for about a month, before starting to crawl). So her point is: put them on their backs and when they are ready they will roll to their tummy or sit up by themselves. And, as pathwaysmom says and you are already doing, have lots of fun things for her to reach for around her.

    Good luck. May your baby’s bodywisdom find its own path and pace… which with a lovely supportive mother like you it is hard to imagine any other outcome :)

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