Babies don’t need to go to a gym to exercise because they have parents and carers to help them. Even if they seem to be on their backs the whole day, their wriggling, kicking and grasping are working those tiny muscles. Having strong muscles are essential for a baby to be able to hold their head up, roll over, sit up, crawl and walk. Strong muscles can also help babies to develop good posture.
Here are some of the exercises parents can help their babies with!
1. Tummy time
Turning babies onto their stomachs help them build the muscles in their neck, arms, shoulders, back and stomach. It’s a bit like the adult Superman workout to strengthen our backs. Place baby tummy down on a comfortable but firm surface such as a blanket or playmat and keep them company by lying on your tummy too.
As you smile, talk, sing, jiggle keys and make funny faces in this position, they’ll try to look up and at the sides to look at you. The baby may start to kick and reach out which will also work their muscle groups.
Sessions should last for about 3 to 5 minutes before progressing to at least 20 minutes a day. Soon, they’ll be able to roll over on their own.
2. Baby assisted sit-ups
Another way to strengthen their core, shoulders, arms and back is through assisted sit-ups. While your baby is on her back, grasp her forearms and gently pull her toward you. Babies around 6 weeks old can start doing sit-ups but remember to support her head with a hand behind her head to avoid flopping.
Although you’re doing the pulling, the baby’s abdominal muscles will naturally flex and work to keep her head in alignment with her body. Babies love this exercise because they get to come closer to your face. Make it even more fun by giving them a kiss each time they come up.
Or horizontal running according to Fat Amy! Cycling the baby’s legs not only help relieves gas from the body but help work the hips, knees, legs and abs. It’ll also increase their flexibility as well as their range of motion. The exercise should be done three to five times, take a break before repeating. The exercise can be accompanied by cooing, singing or sound effects to make it fun. Keep going until the baby stops showing interest.
4. Baby Weightlifting
Not with a barbell! Let the baby do some weight lifting by letting them grasp and pick up toys such as rattles, blocks, balls or dolls. This helps to improve hand-eye coordination, grasping ability and the muscles in the shoulders, arms and hands.
The baby can be seated on a high chair with a range of toys in front of them. Parents may need to demonstrate picking up and putting down the toys before they get what you want them to do.