Your infant needs to exercise their muscles regularly to grow up strong and healthy. Learn about various exercises to boost your baby’s strength through simple activities you can do together, ensuring optimal development.
Even while it may look like your kid is just lounging about all day, they are actually getting quite the workout. Your baby is developing their muscles by doing things like kicking their legs, batting at things, and wriggling about during a diaper change. Plus, they’ll need sturdy muscles to do things like keep their heads up, roll over, sit up, crawl, and eventually walk, so all that strength training isn’t wasted.
San Antonio physician Meena Chintapalli, M.D., says more active infants tend to be happier, sleep better, and be more engaged in play and learning. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that infants participate in at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day. The ratio rises to 15 minutes of activity for every hour your kid is awake by the time he or she is mobile and toddling around.
Try these simple workouts if you want to be your baby’s first personal trainer.
1. Tummy Time
Your baby spends most of their time on his or her back. According to Robert Pantell, M.D., author of Taking Care of Your Child, turning your infant onto their stomach helps them grow neck, arms, shoulders, back, and abdomen muscles.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting supervised daily tummy time on the first day home from the hospital. Begin with short sessions of 3–5 minutes. After placing your infant’s tummy on a blanket or playmat on the floor, you should get down on your stomach to comfort them.
Dr. Pantell advises that the best way to help your baby develop the muscles necessary to roll over, sit up, and eventually crawl is to keep him or her interested and entertained. Your infant may protest tummy time at first, but as their muscles develop, they will likely look forward to it. Try to get in at least 20 minutes of daily tummy time as your baby gets stronger and more comfortable. Even when your baby can roll over on their own, you should keep doing this. Some activities that can be done during “tummy time”:
- Have fun and interact with one another by making silly expressions, singing, and grinning.
- Encourage reaching by jiggling a plush toy or a set of baby keys.
- Put something engaging just out of reach to stimulate reaching and gripping.
- To the beat, kick and wiggle about like you’re dancing.
Steve Sanders, Ed.D., author of Promoting Physical Activity in Babies, suggests that pulling your infant up into a sitting position is a great method to build the muscles in their shoulders, core, arms, and back. Your baby’s muscles will get stronger, and their balance will get better if they respond to your pulls by tightening their abdominal muscles and trying to keep their head in line with their body.
Your baby will be more comfortable being held if you take hold of their forearms while they are lying on their back and slowly bring them toward you. By the time you’re six weeks along, you should be able to begin doing sit-ups. Instead of lifting your infant by the forearms, position your arms behind their shoulders and hold their head in place with your hands if they are too little to do so on their own.
Dr. Sanders thinks that even if you can only pull your baby up an inch or two at first, they will keep getting better and better until they can sit up on their own. Your baby will enjoy this activity since it brings them closer to you; nevertheless, you can increase their enjoyment by being particularly enthusiastic and by giving them a kiss at the peak of each sit-up.
Do you know how to help alleviate gas in your infant by “bicycling” his or her legs? In addition to being an effective technique to get the air out of their lungs, this type of exercise is great for strengthening the lower body. You should expect an improvement in both flexibility and range of motion thanks to this exercise.
Dr. Chintapalli suggests laying your baby on his back and moving his legs up and down and around like he’s pedaling a bike. Make choo-choo or vroom noises, smile, coo, or sing along with the action. To maximize its effectiveness, this exercise should be performed three to five times before a brief rest. If your baby is smiling, looking at you, and kicking, it is showing interest.
Angela Thacker, regional director of the national children’s gym chain The Little Gym, adds that picking up objects is a terrific method to strengthen your baby’s grasping skills, enhance hand-eye coordination, and assist in developing the muscles in their shoulders, arms, and hands.
As soon as your baby is able to grasp objects, around the age of three or four months, you may start using household items as personal weights. These can include rattles, small toys, and other objects of varied sizes and shapes. Place a selection of these things in front of your baby as they sit in their bouncy seat or high chair.
Whether it’s the same or new, have your child pick it up, examine it, put it down, and then do it again. If the “weights” make a sound, light up, or offer some other incentive for a job well done, you may have to show the first few times, but they will catch the idea fast.