Babies seem so fragile. I remember shuddering when the pediatrician at the hospital handled my first child so seemingly careless. After having 3 more children, I now know that doctor was experienced, not trying to harm my baby. He knew how strong newborns really are.
I’m not saying you can throw them around like rag dolls. Don’t get me wrong, their neck muscles haven’t strengthened enough to hold up their ginormous head yet. But if you’ve ever tried to dress a fussy baby, you know how strong they can protest to having their arms put in their sleeves.
So their are lots of fun exercises your baby can do other than just tummy time. Here are a few I like to do.
I love playing with my baby! Their little faces stare at you with wonder, and you know that they are soaking up the experience and learning so much. Play is more than just fun!
With all of these exercises, make sure your baby is comfortable and you are present. If you sense that she is not enjoying it, stop right away. You’ll also want to consult with your doctor if you have any concerns.
Tummy Time Remix
Yes, this is the most common Newborn Exercise that every pediatrician recommends. My midwife suggested at least 10 minutes of tummy time a day. I try to put my newborn on their tummy after every feeding. Maybe you are picturing your baby on a blanket on the floor for tummy time, but I also like to mix it up.
One of my children’s favorite spots is on daddy’s tummy. This doesn’t just strengthen their neck and core, but it also creates a bond of trust. He’s developing a relationship with baby and sometimes that is hard for dads to do if they aren’t involved with feedings.
Another great place is across your knees. This also helps trapped gas come out. The important thing to think about with tummy time is that you’re mainly getting them used to being on their tummy. Some babies hate to be on their tummy so where ever you can get them to do it works.
Have you ever tried a slope? Make a little ramp with a couple of books under a crib mattress. Lay your baby facing the lowest part of the mattress so that a little wiggle could end up making them move a little. This helps motivate your baby, especially when he figures out that wiggling causes him to move, and he will figure that out sooner than you think!
How about a big ball? A big exercise ball can come in handy. Try some tummy time on that and slowly move your baby around in a circular motion, front to back, or side to side.
Ok, one more! This one helps the parent work out too. Just have your baby do tummy time on the front of your legs. First, lay on your back and put your knees to your chest. Place baby on your shins holding their neck with both hands if needed. Their head should be supported with your knees. Slowly extend your legs a little bit or gently bounce your legs up and down. You could also twist your hips from side to side, or just do some small crunches while baby relaxes.
Another, more exciting, tummy time activity you can do is to hold your baby in a super hero position. Tuck your arm between his legs, and allow his chest to rest on your forearm. Support his head with your hand if needed. Then, gently move them around the room and make lots of flying noises. Your super baby will be working out his neck and back again, but he’ll be learning to trust you too.
I wish I could work-out by having other people do sit-ups for me. That is exactly what you will do for your baby, helping him gain upper-body strength.
Place baby on a blanket on the couch or bed and then hold the blanket on each side slightly above their head with your baby in the middle of your arms. You can also put your hands under their head for support if needed.
Slowly lift the blanket so your baby comes to a sitting position. Then lower them back down again. Baby loves silly faces when you lift him to look into your eyes!
My mother used to do this to me even when I was a preschooler and I loved it every time! Lay your baby on his back and hold his ankles gently. Slowly move this legs in a circular motion, like he is peddling a bicycle. Slowly say the word bicycle and then as you move his legs faster and faster, do the same with your voice, saying the word bicycle faster and faster. After a few seconds, stop, clap and praise your baby. I bet you get a huge smile!
All babies love to be held up on their tippy toes. Newborns need extra support because standing up is very strenuous for them. Holding your baby under his armpits, gently touch his toes to the ground or your lap if you are sitting in a chair. Allow him to balance gently with most of his weight supported by you. A lot of times your baby will kick making it look like he is doing a little dance!
My babies love being gently bounced while held like this, and it often calms them when they are very fussy. They like it even more when I make silly little noises and sound effects like, beep beep beep, and boop boop boop while I bounce them.
Obviously, sitting takes practice. There are lots of ways you can help your baby practice sitting. I usually put my baby on the couch. You can put pillows on either side to help prop him up. A Bumbo infant seat can help strengthen core muscles, but it doesn’t allow them to practice their balance. So, you’ll want to make sure you are helping them balance without the aid of the seat too.
I’m sure there are lots more activities you can do with your newborn, but those are a few I do often.
Do you have a favorite baby exercise that you like to do?
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