Exercises for Your Growing Baby
As your baby continues to grow during those early months, he will develop an exercise regime ranging from lifting his head while in a prone position, to reaching for and grabbing objects while in the supine position.
"[Babies] advance to sitting on their own, trying to roll over, creeping, crawling... all around the middle of the first year," reminds Dr. Lee. For that reason, all attempts at keeping baby active from the very beginning are important so that developmental skills are learned and practiced. Be sure to avoid leaving baby in an infant seat, swing, or bouncer for extended periods.
"It's especially important for premature or other special-needs babies to be helped to work on these developmental tasks at the proper times," says Dr. Lee. "For example, these babies should not be encouraged to stand up before they are ready. Preemies may have higher tone in their extensor muscles and look as though they want to stand up but in fact need to be encouraged to spend time on their tummies and sides first, to develop their muscle groups appropriately," Lee says. Walkers and jumping seats among others are best avoided. Instead, allow your baby time for rolling and kicking on a flat surface, such as on a blanket on the floor, on a play gym, or in his crib.
Simple exercises you can do with your exploring baby include:
- Dancing to music while holding baby in your arms or in a sling/carrier.
- Assisting your baby in pulling to a sitting position by grasping his hands with your fingers around them, making sure to position your thumbs in the baby's palms for leverage.
- Helping your baby to a standing position by holding his waist or grasping his hands before allowing his feet to touch the ground.
- Assisting your baby in rolling front-to-back and back-to-front while he is supine or on his tummy by rolling him gently back-and-forth.
- Moving your baby's legs in a bicycle movement while she is in supine position at diaper changes or bedtime; this also soothes some colicky babies.
- Waving your baby's arms from side-to-side and up and down.
- Raising your baby in the air to "fly" while supporting her abdomen.
- Allowing baby to grasp or kick at a beach ball or other type of ball of similar size.