10 fun exercises to do with your baby
Active parents are an inspiration to their children. Your patient little baby or toddler is always watching whether you realize it or not. It is a bittersweet moment when your child tries to join you or asks how to do a pushup. But when that determined, active parent is vigorously pushing to complete their last set of 20 squats and that adorable fussy baby isn’t having it, it can be quite frustrating. What’s a mommy or daddy to do? Pick up that cute ball of fuss and use them to your advantage – add extra weight and balance to your lunges? Sure, why not? A little more burn and challenge will maximize results, and most babies find it exciting to go up and down or side to side because they are being held, and spending more one-on-one time with their parents.
Here are 10 great exercises you can safely and efficiently do with your happy baby. If baby just won’t get in the mood, that’s ok. Take a deep breath and try again later. A few things to keep in mind before beginning:
Make sure baby can at least hold their head up (3-4 months old), and is secure and safe — either in your arms or in a carrier — while you perform these exercises. Keep your core engaged with each exercise, belly button pulled in, shoulders back. Engaging your core helps strengthen your abs while protecting your lower back. It also gives you better control and stability while holding your baby.
Squat and hold. Firmly holding your baby out in front of you, lower back into a deep squat and back up.
Make it easier: Simply hold your baby in toward your chest, elbows back and lower into a squat.
Shoulder raises – Smile at your baby and raise them up in the air, bring your baby toward your chest and back up in the air, arms extended up overhead.
Make it easier: Sit in a chair as you raise baby up and back toward your chest.
Lunge and twist – Begin in standing position, holding baby directly in front of you with your elbows slightly bent. Slowly step your right leg in front, lowering into a lunge. As you lower, slowly twist your torso (and baby) to the right. Twist back to center and return to starting position. Repeat on other side to complete one rep.
Make it easier: Hold baby closer to you as you step out into a lunge.
Baby chest press – Lying on your back, knees bent and holding baby on your chest (baby is lying on his belly), slowly raise baby directly above your chest, bring baby down and back up, mimicking a chest press.
Make it easier: Put your knees down so you are lying flat as you perform a baby chest press.
Leg lifts – Lying flat on your back with extended legs, hold baby firmly with both hands so he is sitting on your belly. Engage abs and slowly lift legs up to the ceiling for three counts. Lower center for three counts then alternate left and right completing one rep. Be sure to inhale as you lower, exhale as you pull up, and smile at your baby.
Make it easier: Keep knees bent at a 90 degree angle parallel to the ceiling. Slowly lower legs to “tap” the ground, and slowly bring back to starting position.
Traditional baby crunch – Lay on your back, knees bent and feet off the ground. Gently hold baby in a sitting position on your belly. Contracting abs and smiling at your baby, crunch up for three counts and back down for three counts, never letting go of that contraction.
Make it easier: Keep knees bent with feet flat on the floor as you perform a crunch.
Sumo baby curl and press – Stand in plié position with your feet more than hip width apart, toes pointed out. Holding baby at waist height, slowly squat down while lowering baby just below the hips. As you return to starting position, bring baby up toward chest, (mimicking a bicep curl) and immediately lift baby overhead to perform an overhead press. This completes one rep.
Make it easier: Perform each body exercise separately. For example, perform the plié squats for as many reps as you can handle. Next, in standing position feet hip width apart, slowly “curl” baby up to your chest and up overhead to complete one rep.
Baby dance-off – If all else fails, dance! Hold your baby securely or place baby in a carrier (Tula, wrap, etc.), turn on some good tunes and dance around! This is a great cardio workout and a stress reliever as well. Babies are usually entertained by this and can spend some quality time with mommy or daddy.
Stroller warrior walk – Go for a stroll or fast-paced walk. This is something you can do every day to get back into your pre-baby shape. It’s good for baby to get some fresh air, and good for mommy and daddy too. Whether you go for a power walk first thing in the morning, before baby’s nap, or after dinner, walking is refreshing and healthy for everyone.
Baby and me stretch – Don’t forget to stretch out those hard-worked muscles. Sitting up with legs spread apart in a straddle position, place baby in the center of your legs sitting up, lying on belly or on back (depending on what stage your baby is in). Slowly reach center toward your baby, belly button in, back flat and exhale. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds. Return to starting position. Turn your torso to the right side and slowly reach toward your ankle until you feel a good, comfortable stretch (interact with your baby as you like) while keeping your back flat. Repeat on other side.