Your baby needs strong muscles to hold up her head, roll over, sit up, crawl, and eventually walk. In addition to that, physical activity pays off in the form of more restful sleep, less fussiness, and a happy infant who is eager to play and learn, says Meena Chintapalli, M.D., a pediatrician in San Antonio. So, it is important to build baby’s strength to enhance their physical development.
Be your little one’s personal trainer today and try out these simple exercises that will help your little one grow up big and strong.
1. Tummy time
Babies spend most of the time on their back. Turning your baby over on his stomach helps to build muscles. When your baby is on his belly, he has to look up, left, and right to see people and objects around him. By doing this, it allows him to strengthens his neck, shoulders, and trunk. Later on, these muscles development will let him sit up.
Daily, supervised tummy time can begin as early as his first day home from the hospital, according to American Academy of Pediatrics. You can start off with a couple of three to five minute sessions at the beginning. Place your baby tummy down on a blanket or play mat on the floor, get down on your own stomach to keep him company. Smile, talk, sing, make funny faces, jiggle a set of keys, or put a toy within his grasp. Good way to bond with your little one, too. As his strength and tolerance increases, gradually work up to at least 20 minutes of tummy play each day. Continue even after he’s able to roll over on his own.
Have your baby in a sitting up position is another way to strengthen the muscles in her shoulders, core, arms, and back, says Steve Sanders, Ed.D., author of Encouraging Physical Activity in Infants. Your Baby will naturally flex her abdominal muscles and try to keep her head in alignment with her body, even though you will be the one that is pulling her. This helps to strengthen the muscles and build balance.
You can start doing sit-up exercises around 6 weeks. This exercise is fun for your baby since she’s getting closer to your face, and you can make it even more entertaining by singing a song perhaps.
Cycle your baby’s legs appears to be a good way to work the legs, hips, knees, and abs. This move helps increase flexibility as well as his range of motion. “Put your baby on his back and gently move his legs up and around, as if he were pedaling a bicycle,” says Dr. Chintapalli. You can top that that by making some noises while you do the motion. Repeat the movement three to five times, take a break, and then repeat. Keep going as long as your baby shows interest by smiling, making eye contact, and kicking.
4. Weight lifting
Picking up objects is a great way to build your baby’s grasping ability, improve hand-eye coordination, and help develop the muscles in her shoulders, arms, and hands, says Angela Thacker, regional director of The Little Gym, a national chain of children’s gyms. By 3 or 4 months old, your baby will be able to start grasping at items, small toys, and other objects of varying sizes and shapes. These will be her personal weights. Encourage her to lift one, check it out, put it down, and then lift it again or move on to a different one. This can keep her entertained for a little while if her “weights” make a sound, light up, or offer some other reward for a job well done.
5. Twist and roll
Normally your baby will be able to roll from her tummy to her back around 4 months. And for the reverse movement, from her back to her tummy around 5 months. This takes a great deal to develop abdominal strength that you can help her build by encouraging her to initiate the movement.
While she’s on her tummy, hold her favorite toy in front of her for her to reach out. When she reaches for it, move it so it is on one side of her head. This is to get her to twist her body as she reaches for it, which will eventually lead to her rolling over.