4 Months and Straight Arms?! NOT ENOUGH TUMMY TIME?!?

Updated on July 06, 2010
F.D. asks from Spring Hill, FL
17 answers

So my baby boy is about to be 4 months on Monday.. and I feel a bit guilty. The reason I feel guilty is because I don't think I gave him enough tummy time. I am a new mother..and a Dr. told me to never lay him on his stomach..I took that literally...not just for sleeping. I eventually did my own research and saw that HE needed his tummy time. I read that he should be lifting his head with his arms straight out holding himself up. Well he does not do this, he holds his head up high and for a while..but he does not straighten his arms out and hold himself up that way.. Is this my fault? is there something wrong with that ? or is it perfectly normal to just hold his head up without using his arms.. I tried to give him as much tummy time as I could after I read he should have tummy time, but somehow still feel like I did something wrong. ANSWERS MOM I NEED THEM TO FEEL BETTER!

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answers from Tulsa on

My son held his head up earlier than average, but was older than 4 months before he held his arms straight. I wouldn't worry about it. Every child develops at a different pace.

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answers from Provo on

He'll be fine. I know of a baby that went with his granddaddy to work everyday and he just sat in his car seat the entire time next to him at his desk. That baby didn't know how to roll over till 6 months when his aunt took over caring for him. He's now a healthy running around 7 year old that can beat all the other kids. He'll catch up. All babies go at their own pace and he'll either take his time or speed up to crawling. No worries, just keep giving plenty of tummy time.

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answers from Sacramento on

My kids LOATHED tummy time, so we didn't do a whole lot of it ... just little bits here and there because they'd get really angry. Not sure about the arm straightening. I don't think my kids did anything special. Just held the head up, plopped it to the ground and got fussy. I would give it some time and I suspect he'll do whatever he needs to with his arms. It won't be long before he's going to want to be moving/crawling and the arms will do what they need to then.

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answers from New York on

It's so easy as a first time mom to think you are ruining your child but you really do learn as you go. Calm down, give yourself a break and remember there is no right way to do it. If there was we wouldn't be here asking each other for advice :) My son would throw up every time I put him on his tummy even if he hadn't eaten in hours. My pediatrician finally said "well stop putting him on his tummy then" it seemed like he would be ruined and truth be told he never did crawl. I would hold him up in a standing position to let him gain strength in his body and so he went straight to walking at 10 months old. Now he's 9 and he still prefers to lay on his back or side to sleep. He will be fine and I suspect you will be too. Good Luck!

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answers from Kansas City on

Oh, you're being too hard on yourself. If it makes you feel any better, my first son absolutely hated tummy time, so we rarely had tummy time. He started walking at 10 months old. My 5 month old doesn't really care that much for tummy time either. So, what I do, is I put him in his walker and that helps them with holding themselves up and also they see their toys on the trays and then they will reach out and grab for those. So, you may want to try using a walker, or some kind of similar activity center.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Tummy time is important, and I made sure I gave both my kids some of it every day, but I know that I didn't do it as much as I should have. WIth my 1st, I just couldn't bring myself to put her down, I loved holding her. My 2nd HATED to be on his tummy, he would only tolerate it for 2-3 min tops! My son didn't hold himself up with straight arms until he was almost 6 months (he's 8 months now). He would just rest on his forearms. All in a very short time frame he was holding himself up, rolling and sitting up. Now he is crawling everywhere and getting into everything and all he wants to do is stand. I am sure your son is fine, there is a wide range of what is normal for milestones. Talk with your pediatrician if your concerned.

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answers from Dallas on

He has plenty of time to catch up. Start now by putting him on his tummy and play with him. Get down on your tummy too. I think a lot of babies do not like tummy time because it is hard for them to interact at that level unless you are right there with them. At about 3-4 months my little one was almost always put down on his tummy and he got so used to it that that is what he prefers now. No worries! :)

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answers from Portland on

He's only four months old- do not worry! :) Firstly, all babies develop on their own timetable, and four months old isn't old enough at all to worry about developmental delays! If he can't hold himself up with his arms around 6 or 7 months then I'd start to wonder, but if he can lay on his belly and lift his head up for a short period of time- he's doing great, and so are you! :)

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answers from Miami on

Ok, yes, you took that statement a little too literally (blame the doctor - he/she should have been more clear!), but I'm sure there's been no damage done. YOU DID NOTHING WRONG! You're being a good mommy, that's all! He's only 4 months and there's plenty of time for "catch up". Keep doing what you're doing - when he's awake, give him lots of tummy time. Hold favorite toys in front of him, just out of reach, to try and coax him to attempt to push up, but only do this a little bit because you don't want to frustrate him. I would not feel guilty - all new moms at some point do something that makes them feel guilty! He's still young and there's plenty of time for him to develop perfectly normal. All kids develop differently, reaching milestones at different ages and there's nothing wrong with that!



answers from Tampa on

Don't punish yourself and feel guilty. It isn't healthy for you or your baby. Just make sure to do the tummy time with him every day. Read to him every day too. That is very important. He will be fine. Not all babies develope the same and some do things earlier than others. I had a cousin's boy walk at 6 months old. That is rare but does happen. Her daughter didn't walk until 12 months old. Just relax. By being concerned and asking for help that means your a good Mom and a loving Mom. Your son will be fine..



answers from Jacksonville on

First things first, BREATH!!! Stop beating yourself up, this is not a major thing and your son will not be adversly affected for any length of time. If this is the biggest "mistake" you make as a parent count yourself lucky :) So now he is getting tummy time (yeah) and doing what I used to call the turtle. Don't worry, next he will put his arms down. Before you know it, he will be scooting around (don't freak when he goes backward first, this is normal). Know that each child develops a little different and on a slightly different time line. As long as your child is within a couple months of his milestones, don't worry. If you do hit a major concern, talk to his doctor. Also know that not all children do the same things or do them the same exact way. My second child always held her arms like a bull dog, when she pushed up she never straightened them out, and she developed just fine.


answers from Albuquerque on

Hi F.,
I am an OT and have 2 boys.

Your baby has plenty of tummy time in his future. You started, just keep going: a little every day, esp with you on your tummy with him, is awesome!

Also, I completely disagree that swaddling effects normal development in *any* way. In fact, logically, swaddling would help *increase* trunk, neck and limb gross motor strength! But, you do not HAVE to swaddle for it to happen.

relax and have fun playing with your baby: that, and hugs and kisses, is what helps development the most :)




answers from Sarasota on

Relax! They are very resilient and adaptive. Put him on his tummy now--put a toy he likes to hold in front of him where he can reach it, get down on your tummy and face him. He'll want the toy, he'll want you, he'll do what he needs to do. And if he skips a step, he skips a step--he'll grow up just fine. But the best gift you can give him is to relax!



answers from Charlotte on

Do you swaddle your baby when he sleeps, F.? This straight arm thing happened with my niece, and the doc said it was because of swaddling. Once the swaddling ended, her arms started to "act" more normal (not straight) and as a 3 1/2 year old, she's totally normal.

Just read up on what you do with babies from month to month (The First Year, or something like that) and try not to worry. The doctor who told you not to put him on his stomach meant AT NIGHT in the crib to sleep. The reason he said it is because of SIDS. (By the way, some babies can't sleep well on their backs and sides and end up needing to be on their stomachs anyway - babies slept like that for centuries and most didn't die of SIDS. Still better to try to put them on their backs if they can sleep that way.)

Do what the books recommend for a month, and if he still isn't doing what you think he should be doing, ask for his motor development to be evaluated. If the doc pooh-poohs you for being concerned, find another doctor.

All my best,



answers from Jacksonville on

Deep breathe girl, its ok just start giving him some belly time now. My 2nd daughter absolutely refused belly time til 5months. She is 10 months now and a avid crawler and STRONG arms. My first daughter loved to nap for a few minutes on her belly on the living room floor. Every baby is different.
You are doing a good job, try to find a playgroup for some more mommy advice and verification of your good job as mommy. Check out meetup.com for something in your area.



answers from Boca Raton on

Your son is only 4 months old - plenty of time for tummy time. No damage done! You are obviously going to be a great mommy, as you care so much for the little things . . . just remember, no one is perfect! Cut yourself a break or you will make yourself miserable - and that will make your little one miserable. He wants a happy mama!


answers from Ocala on

No Worries!
I am a Mom to 4 and a Granni to 11 (three of which I am raising) and although there are charts that help you to gauge what your baby should be doing when, they are STILL small people with minds & bodies of their very own, they do things when THEY are ready!
IF & ONLY IF this continues and you notice your baby isn't reaching for things and then placing them in his mouth (or yours :)) or he doesn't play with his toes, doesn't bend his arms to hold onto breast or bottle, THEN it's time to talk to your pediatrician. My daughter #3 didn't sit up till she was NINE months! I was beside myself! Then one day, I went to get her up from her nap and there she was sitting up playing!
Best to you, being a new Mom is wonderful, crazy, tiring, exciting all at the same time!

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