How can I encourage tummy time?

Q: My baby hates tummy time. What can I do?

A: Not every baby loves spending time belly-side down, but tummy time is important for building your baby's neck and upper-body strength. Eventually this will help your baby accomplish milestones like rolling over and sitting up. It may sound counterintuitive, but the more time your baby spends on his tummy, the stronger he'll be -- and the more he'll ultimately like it.Try to make tummy time more comfortable by rolling up a small towel and placing it under baby's chest, which props his head so he can see and do more. Also, get down on your belly too and make funny faces, sing songs, and play with baby's favorite toys. Sometimes, spending tummy time on a bed (as long as you're careful) can be more comfortable than on the floor.  If your baby cries or gets upset during tummy time, try not to automatically pick him up. Instead, comfort him in other ways first, like rubbing his back or singing soothing songs. Aim for about 30 minutes a day total, but you can break these up over the course of the day if your baby's really resistant. There's no need for him to be miserable.

Copyright 2003 Meredith Corporation. Updated 2009.