My 7 month old is capable of rolling both front-to-back and back-to-front. She can also sit fairly well when place in the sitting position, although she cannot get to that position on her own. Looking forward to future gross motor skills milestones I would like to provide her the opportunity to acheive what she needs to acheive.

When I read about crawling, in all its variants, I read that encouraging tummy time is essential. My daughter simply won't do tummy time. I place her on her stomach with an enticing toy and she grabs the toy and rolls over to her back. After spending a day rolling onto her stomach she has simply stopped. She has no desire to be on her stomach. She'll happily play on her back, side, or seated, however. I do place toys out in front of her when she is seated or to her side just out of reach when she is lying down to try and encourage her to reach. When seated she will reach; when lying she usually won't.

I don't want to push my daughter, but I do want to provide her an environment where she can develop valuable skills. What should I do for her play to help her move forward with being able to move to a sitting position on her own, crawling (or creeping, scooting, slithering, etc.), pulling up, standing, cruising, and walking?

2 Answers 2


If your daughter doesn't want to stay on her tummy then she's not going to, it's simple as that and there's not a thing you can do about it. Once babies learn to roll around it's up to them. All you can do is make it a safe environment with lots of good things to play with then let them get on with it.

As for why she doesn't want to be on her tummy who knows? She may have a stomach ache, or maybe she's sore from spending lots of time on her front before. Maybe she wants to have more eye contact with you, or maybe she just doesn't feel like it.

Try not to obsess on it, just let her develop in her own time.

  • Thanks for the reminder to let her develop on her own time - I tell myself that regularly. I'm not pushing her to be on her stomach, but I am looking for alternate ways to allow her to continue to develop arm strength. I figure she's getting good exercise for her core sitting and playing.
    – justkt
    Sep 27, 2012 at 14:58
  • 3
    She'll gain plenty of arm strength just by playing with toys and doing the usual baby stuff.
    – GdD
    Sep 27, 2012 at 15:00
  • Good to hear. She does a lot of wild banging of anything she can pick up, but I figure holding up her body will take some work. She's on the upper end of the growth charts.
    – justkt
    Sep 27, 2012 at 15:02
  • 1
    That could be why she's not keen on crawling. Don't worry too much about it. In terms of mobility, different babies choose different initial modes of transport, ranging from the bum shuffle to just rolling round, to just waiting till they're ready to stand, and cutting out the middle steps.
    – deworde
    Sep 28, 2012 at 6:02

As a follow-up, my child was eventually diagnosed with low muscle tone in her legs at 12 months. Her hypotonia causes her hips to be too flexible. So moving her legs requires extra effort compared to someone wtih low tone, and where most toddlers have wobbly ankles she has both wobbly ankles and wobbly hips. She also has a reluctance to engage her core, though she has not been diagnosed with low muscle tone in her core by her pediatrician. Because of her low tone she has been seeing a physical therapist for several months.

At 15 months her physical therapist actually recommended that we attempt to go back and re-visit tummy time with our now crawling, assisted-walking, and even taking several steps toddler. The logic behind revisiting tummy time at this phase in her gross motor development is that tummy time will enhance her balance and give her the confidence she needs to move forward with walking While the accepted answer indeed is correct that you can't force anyone to do tummy time, our physical therapist has provided several excellent suggestions for engaging a reluctant child in tummy time.

  1. Place your child over your legs to provide some support and encourage playing with elbows and knees down. Possible things which are so engaging that the child will not immediately roll over, sit up, or crawl away include:

    a. The child's favorite toys (in my child's case small rocks outside work the best we've seen - I bet splashing in containers of water would also be very engaging).

    b. Engage your child in "helping" you fold laundry so that they can play with the clothes.

    c. With a crawler have toys on both the side they are sitting/playing on of your legs and the side opposite. This way they will need to lay across your legs to get half of whatever game they are playing. The act of lying down and pushing off will help develop core strength and stability.

    d. For a child who is currently eating finger foods doing tummy time during snack time may work, although this will not work for families who have determined that eating only occurs at the table.

  2. Do tummy time on a raised surface such as a counter with you right there to prevent rolling off. This minimizes the "I can't see anything here on my stomach on the floor" problem.

While practically doing handsprings to engage your child in tummy time may not be as essential for a child who does not need extra motivation, for kids who do need the extra work I hope this list is helpful. Some of these ideas will work well for younger babies, but some are more geared towards older infants or young toddlers.

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