The history of baby exercise dates back to the early 1900s. In 1904, American physician Luther Gulick recommended that babies be given daily physical activity to promote their health and development. However, it wasn't until the 1970s that baby exercise became mainstream. Today, a growing body of evidence supports the benefits of baby exercise. Studies have shown that active babies are more likely to reach key developmental milestones, such as sitting up, crawling, and walking, earlier than their sedentary counterparts. Baby exercise has also been linked with improved sleep, reduced fussiness, and increased cognitive skills.
Baby exercise generally refers to any type of physical activity that is specifically designed for infants and young children. This could include things like tummy time, infant massage, water play, "baby yoga" classes, etc. Some parents start doing simple exercises with their babies from a very early age (even newborns), while others may wait until the child is a bit older and more developmentally ready. Ultimately, it is up to the parent(s) to decide what they feel is best for their own child.
Here are the top four exercises parents can do with their babies.
- Tummy Time: Getting your baby on their tummy several times a week can help to strengthen the muscles in their back, neck, and shoulders. It also gives them a chance to practice moving their head and upper body, which helps to develop coordination skills. To do tummy time with your baby, simply place them on their stomach on a firm surface such as a mat or blanket. You can stay close by to offer support and encouragement. Start with short sessions of just a few minutes at a time and gradually increase the amount of time as your baby gets stronger.
- Superman: This is another great exercise for strengthening the muscles in your baby's back, neck, and shoulders. To do it, simply lie your baby down on their stomach and then lift their legs and arms off the ground so they are "flying" like Superman. Depending on your baby's comfort level, you can hold them in this position for a few seconds or longer.
- Head Lifts: Lifting your baby's head up from lying down is important for developing neck strength and control. It also helps prepare them for eventually sitting up on their own. To do this exercise, gently hold your baby under their chin and base of the skull with one hand while supporting their back with the other. Then slowly lift their head up until they are looking at you directly before lowering it back down again. Repeat this several times during each session.
- Rolling Over: This milestone skill requires strong trunk muscles as well as coordination between both sides of the body (right arm/left leg; left arm/right leg). Helping your baby practice rolling over regularly can give them a big boost in mastering this movement! To encourage rolling over, start by placing your baby on their back in front of you with some toys within reach nearby (this will help keep them motivated). Then gently roll them onto one side using both hands to support their trunk and hips (be sure not to pull too hard or let go too soon!). Pause for a moment when they are in the side-lying position before helping them roll all the way over onto their stomach again
There are many benefits for the mother of doing exercises with her baby. One benefit is that she can get in shape and improve her fitness level while spending quality time with her child. Additionally, exercising with her baby can help to reduce stress levels, increase energy levels, and improve overall mood. Finally and perhaps most important, baby exercising helps promote bonding that can help to ease postpartum anxiety either may be experiencing in the weeks and months after giving birth.