10 Simple Baby Exercises For Stronger Body and Mind
Exercise Fitness Tips

10 Simple Baby Exercises For Stronger Body and Mind

It may seem like your baby spends a lot of time lying down, but he exercises vigorously every day. Whether she hits an object, kicks her legs, or squirms while changing the diaper, she exercises her little muscles. And all this strength-building is essential to her motor development: she needs strong muscles to hold her head, roll, sit, crawl and eventually walk. Plus, physical activity pays off in the form of more restful sleep, less hassle, and a happy child eager to play and learn, says Meena Chintapalli, M.D., a pediatrician in San Antonio. These simple exercises will help you become your baby’s trainer.

1. Tummy Time

Your child spends most of his time on his back. Rotating it on its stomach strengthens the muscles in the neck, arms, shoulders, back, and stomach, says Robert Pantell, M.D., author of Taking Care of Your Child. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, daily monitored tummy time can begin as early as the first day at home after the hospital. Start with a few sessions of three to five minutes. After placing your baby’s tummy on a blanket or mat on the floor, lie on your stomach for company.

Smile, talk, sing, make funny faces, shake a bunch of keys or put a toy within reach. Getting your baby involved makes him want to look around, reach out, and kick, which helps build the muscles he needs to roll, sit, and eventually crawl, says Dr. Patel. At first, he may be agitated for the time on his stomach, but with practice and stronger muscles, he should start to enjoy it. As your strength and tolerance increase, gradually work your way up to at least 20 minutes of abdominal play a day. Keep going even after he manages to roll alone.

How To Make Baby Bump Time:

  • Place your baby on a blanket so he can spend time on the floor and explore his surroundings.
  • Place the baby face down between your knees. This also helps the baby release trapped gases.
  • Put your baby in daddy’s tummy! This is a fun and very useful variation on facial bedtime that can be done after feeding the baby or at night before bedtime [Bonus: This also strengthens the emotional bond between father and baby. We recommend asking your husband to try it!]

2. Peanut Ball Exercises

Because not all babies want to get on the tummy time train, it’s important to make exercise fun for babies. What’s better than a peanut butter ball? A peanut ball is just that: a peanut-shaped exercise ball. (Some women in labor also use them.) For baby exercises, hold the baby on the peanut ball, face down. Then gently roll the baby back and forth while holding it. This will help them get used to holding their neck and head up.

3. Put the baby on the chest

Lay the baby on your chest. The baby will lift its head to look at you! This helps to strengthen your neck muscles. Finally, go to the floor and have toys nearby to hold your baby’s attention as he lies on his stomach. If you want to make this a mom and baby exercise, lift your head and shoulders off the floor while the baby is on their stomach.

4. Sit-Ups

Pulling the baby into a sitting position is another great way to strengthen muscles in the shoulders, middle, arms, and back, says Steve Sanders, Ed.D., author of Encouraging Physical Activity in Infants. Even if you pull, your baby will naturally flex her abs and work to keep her head in line with her body, helping to strengthen the muscles and build balance. While your baby is on his back, grab his forearms and gently pull him towards you.

Around 6 weeks you can start with abdominal exercises; if she is too young to support her head, instead of pulling her by the forearms, place her arms behind her shoulders with her hands behind her head to keep her from falling backward. You can only pull your baby up a few inches at first, Dr. Sanders says, but as she gets older, she progresses, eventually moving into a full sitting position. This exercise is fun for your baby when he gets closer to your face, but you can make it even more fun by getting more excited and kissing him on the top of each tummy.

Teach this sit-up exercise to your baby

  • This little basic exercise helps babies crawl, stand and walk.
  • Lay your baby down and let him get up and put him back on the floor.
  • Let your baby lead this exercise as it strengthens your core.
  • After doing this exercise, the baby will sit better.
  • Daily exercise also helps babies sleep better and be happier throughout the day!

5. Bicycling

Did your mom ever tell you to ride on your baby’s legs to reduce gas? Well, it’s not just a natural method of getting the air out of your system – it’s also a great way to work out your legs, hips, knees, and abs. This move helps to increase flexibility as well as your range of motion. “Lay your baby on his back and gently move his legs up and down as if he were pedaling a bicycle,” says Dr. Chintapalli. Cow, laugh, sing or make choo-choo or calling sounds as you move. Repeat the movement three to five times, pause and repeat. Continue as long as your baby shows interest by smiling, making eye contact, and kicking.

6. Weightlifting

Picking up objects is a great way to develop your baby’s grasping ability, improve hand-eye coordination and help develop muscles in the shoulders, arms, and hands, says Angela Thacker, regional director of The Little Gym, a national network of children’s gyms. Once she starts grasping objects, usually around 3 or 4 months, use whatever you have around the house — rattles, small toys, and other objects of various sizes and shapes — as weights.

Put your baby in his high chair or inflatable chair and place a small variety of these items in front of him. Encourage her to lift one, check it, place it on the floor, and then lift it again or move to another. You may have to demonstrate how this is done the first few times, but she’ll quickly get the idea, especially if your “weights” make a noise, light up, or offer some other reward for a job well done.

7. Get Dancing!

No, don’t be surprised; we don’t recommend teaching your baby dance steps! However, you may have noticed that babies like to be moved and held on their toes. According to doctors, this toe-and-toe movement is excellent for developing leg muscles.

Just hold your baby gently under her armpits and touch her toes to the floor. Since you are now supporting most of his weight, balance him gently. Keep in mind that your baby kicks often, making it look like he’s dancing!

Note: Be sure to give your baby extra support as he will find it very difficult to stand up now. It is not recommended to do this exercise for a long time because the little one will get tired.

8. Complex Massage Exercises For Babies

Massage is an old trick that never fails! The benefits of an oil massage are now well accepted by doctors and can help strengthen your baby’s muscles and bones. You can start massaging your baby’s body at an early age – at one or two weeks of age. There are some movements/exercises you should do as part of your baby massage to increase your baby’s strength:

Grab your baby’s wrists and lift him off the massage table (just a few inches). This exercise helps develop the cervical spine.

Lay your baby on his stomach, knees apart, but feet together. Press the baby’s feet with your thumbs. Voila! Your baby will try to push itself forward. This exercise is very useful for the development of the leg muscles.

After the massage, keep the palm on the baby’s chest and press it lightly. This helps eliminate congestion in the lungs and increases ventilation, both of which are good for overall breathing power.

Note: Make sure NOT to use rigorous or high-pressure movements. Only a gentle massage with baby oil that does not damage the skin is beneficial for improving your baby’s blood circulation and thus body strength. When in doubt, refer to this guide to massaging babies.

9. Bubble Can

Have you ever seen a baby looking at bubbles? Babies are mesmerized by it. Put your child on an inflatable chair and blow bubbles. Watch the baby follow the bubbles with his eyes. They may even raise their hands to try and pop one! This helps to adjust motor skills and hand-eye coordination, making it one of the simplest yet effective exercises for babies.

While baby exercises are not meant to get babies to the small Olympics, they are a great way to get stronger and learn important skills. If you have specific questions about exercise for babies, always consult your pediatrician.

10. Happy Baby

This pose is something that a baby may already be doing and not realizing that it is a baby yoga practice. Have the babies lie on their backs and put their legs up. Then ask the baby to hold his feet and rock back and forth. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t grab his feet by himself. Koepke says to “hold your feet gently, with your knees bent and wide open, to make it easier for them to stretch.” This is an excellent exercise for the baby to open the hip muscles and stimulate digestion. Plus, it’s just a fun pose in general!

Conclusion

One last tip: Remember that, just like adults, babies also get bored when their “exercise” and daily activities become routine. So it’s a good idea to mix and match different things to get variations of these exercises and make your baby stronger!