I heard quite a lot of parents saying their baby doesn't like tummy time, especially at the beginning, they get fussy and it usually ends up in crying. Tummy time is very-very important and you are always told by midwife, health visitor to introduce it to your baby as early as possible.
Tummy time is so important, as it is a great way to encourage your baby to get moving and start building the strong muscles in his upper body that he’ll need to control his head, roll over and crawl. But why babies get upset when they have been put down on their front? To find the answer to the question we have to look at baby's position in the womb. During the 9 months of pregnancy the fetus is developing in a so called foetal position, where they are curled up and all the major joints are in a flexed position.
How does this relate to being fussy and upset during tummy time?
One of the many reasons is tightness in the shoulders so baby is not able to bring her arms forward enough into a comfortable position and also they are just not used to lying on their tummy. The other reason is that for all that long time she spent comfortably in that flexed position in the womb, thus most of her joints are used to being in flexion, but during tummy time the complete opposite happens, which is the extension of the joints.
Firstly use the gradual approach, so in early days place your baby onto your chest instead of putting her straightaway onto a blanket on the floor or sofa etc. In that way you can use tummy time as a great bonding experience sharing a lot of cuddles, kisses and discovering each others face. On the other hand your baby will be much happier spending some time in this new position as she feels safe and cozy being close to you, especially if you do it skin to skin. And when she is getting happy and comfortable you can start to put her down on a blanket using a rolled up towel under the arms.
Secondly baby massage is really beneficial to help baby to gain flexibility in major joints as well as to release the physiological flexion that has been created in her body during the time spent in the womb beside many other great benefits. Obviously the massage would be a bit different in that early age compared to what you would do from about 8 weeks as the purpose is different. The biggest difference is that baby is fully clothed during massage as her skin is not ready yet to put any oil on it. This massage routine is more about holding and reassurance (getting in touch with your newborn) as well as helping her being comfortable with tummy time.
Never leave your baby unsupervised during tummy time.
If you'd like to know more about baby massage please take a look at my website where you can also find information about my related course called Be Friends with Tummy Time.