Recently celebrated your baby's milestone of rolling but now scratching your head about how to proceed with Tummy Time? If so, you're not alone! Parents very often ask me questions like:
"How can I do Tummy Time once my baby rolls belly to back?"
"How can I stop by baby from rolling out of Tummy Time - and should I?"
Let's explore what Tummy Time looks like for babies who roll off their bellies and see if we can clear up your confusion so you can get back to playing with your little one!
At What Age Does Tummy Time Become Less Important?
One of the first considerations is how old your baby is when rolling starts interfering with Tummy Time. The answer will help you decide which strategies to use. Most babies begin to roll belly to back between 2 and 5 months of age. In this post, we'll focus on "bigger babies" - those closer to the 4-5 month mark and beyond. If your baby is an early roller - 3 months or less, click here to learn how to continue Tummy Time.
If your little one is close to 5 months of age, it's likely that he doesn't want to stay in any one position for long and is doing lots of rolling or attempts at rolling, wiggling and kicking in anticipation of sitting and crawling. In these cases, Tummy Time becomes more of a "transitional position" rather than a sustained position. Decreased Tummy Time as baby gets more mobile is expected.
For "bigger babies" continue to offer floortime play with toys and interactions that encourage mobility. If you notice your baby rolls in one direction (to his right, for example) but not the other, use toys and your own body position to encourage rolling each way. And provide lots of kicking play and play with toys placed to each side while baby lays on his back to help him prepare for rolling back to belly.
Does My Baby Still Need Tummy Time?
There are some cases in which I recommend continuing to encourage discrete periods of belly-down play for bigger babies who are closer to the 4-5 month mark but are able to roll off their bellies:
- to help strengthen neck muscles (as in the case of Torticollis)
- if your baby is resistant to bearing weight through the arms and hands
- if your little one has not yet achieved the Tummy Time milestones of lifting the chest off the floor and pressing through the hands (as opposed to just the forearms)
Here are a few fun ways to play that can achieve similar goals to Tummy Time without asking a baby to stay in one spot. One thing you'll notice is that all these activities require you to be right there with your baby, actively engaging and supervising.
Once your bigger baby can roll belly to back, floortime play on a blanket probably won't cut it for longer stretches of Tummy Time. Try to squeeze in some of these more active Tummy Time sessions every day, but know that, of course, your little one won't be belly-down for 60-90 minutes per day at this point and that's okay.
*Note: these first 2 activities are only intended for babies with full head control: those who can lift and hold their head completely upright when belly-down*
Airplane Tummy Time
Traveling Tummy Time
Tummy Time Over An Exercise Ball or Beach Ball
Adding movement to Tummy Time is often very enticing for bigger, more active babies. Belly-down play over a large exercise ball or beach ball can keep a kiddo interested and active for Tummy Times. MamaOT does a great job explaining in depth how to use a therapy ball to make Tummy Time easier and more fun for baby.
Tummy Time Over Your Lap
Tummy Time over your lap is a great position for belly-down play at all ages. But as baby gets bigger and stronger, you can not only encourage looking and head lifting in this position, you can throw movement, music and rhythm into the mix!
Tummy Time As Preparation For Crawling
Many parents are interested in their babies crawling because they've heard of the many benefits of crawling on brain development. Here's a great overview of the benefits of crawling from Pink Oatmeal.
The same belly-down play activities mentioned here are great for helping prepare your baby for the milestone of crawling. Learn more about how play promotes crawling and learn why some babies skip crawling.