Let's Get Physical!: 14 Infant Exercises You Can Do at Home
Exercise is an integral part of your baby's development, from developing strength to helping to improve their motor skills.
Are you a new partner looking for exercises you can do with your infant at home?
We've put together this list of 14 exercises you can do with your infant at home to help increase their strength and improve their motor skills as they grow and develop.
Related: Tummy Time: How To Get Started
Exercises For Baby Hand-Eye Coordination
Hand-eye coordination for babies is an essential foundation for other activities like eating and crawling. You can work on their hand-eye coordination after three or four months. Here are some exercises to help you improve these critical skills.
Babies are mesmerized by bubbles. Put your child in a bouncy chair and then blow bubbles. You can watch their eyes track the bubbles, and they may even reach out and try and grab one.
Bubble gazing is a simple exercise, but it's excellent to help tune their hand-eye coordination and motor skills.
Grab the Toy
Tie a brightly colored ribbon to a small toy. Sit on the floor with your baby, dangle the toy in front of them, and move it back and forth. Your baby will want to reach out to grab it and will lean forward to do it.
Not only does this exercise help with their hand-eye coordination, but it also helps improve their balance.
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Exercise to Strengthen a Baby's Tummy and Neck
Strengthening a baby's neck and getting tummy time is critical. They allow babies to start supporting themselves and exploring their environment. Make sure to supervise your baby during tummy time, and don't push them too hard.
Start slowly with three to five minutes a day and gradually increase the length of time for the exercises.
Tummy time is one of the top baby exercises because it helps to strengthen their neck and head muscles and also helps improve their motor skills. For example, use a playmat or a blanket on the floor and lie your baby on their belly.
They might struggle to raise their head, but the movement alone strengthens their neck muscles. Tummy times also help prevent positional plagiocephaly or flattened head shape.
Use a Peanut Ball
Some babies are reluctant to jump right into tummy time. So instead, get a peanut ball (an exercise ball shaped like a peanut) and place your baby's belly on it. Then roll them gently back and forth while holding them up.
This simple exercise will get them used to holding their head up and strengthening their neck.
Lay Them On Your Chest
Lying down, put your baby's tummy down on your chest. They will try to lift their head to look at you. As they get stronger, you can transition them to the floor and have them play with toys while they stay on their tummy.
Use a Football Hold
With your baby's body facing the floor, use your arm to fully support their chest and belly. As your baby looks down and around, this strengthens their neck, back, and head muscles.
Exercises for Crawling Babies
When a baby's neck is strong enough for self-support, it's an excellent time to prepare them for being able to crawl. Babies are typically ready to begin crawling anywhere from 6 to 10 months old.
Here are a couple of exercises to help you get them prepared to crawl.
To do the assisted crawling exercise, take a towel and fold it lengthwise several times. Then, have your baby lay on top of it, put both hands on the ends of the towel, and lift their body off the ground with the arms and legs still touching the floor.
This motion will familiarize them with the crawling movement as you move them across the floor.
Babies need to get used to having their palms open before they start to crawl. Next, have them practice stretching their hands and fingers by reaching out for small objects. You can also open and stretch a baby's hands by massaging them with a washcloth in the tub.
Related: White Noise for Babies: Can It Help Your Baby Sleep?
Exercises to Prepare a Baby For Walking
Walking is a significant milestone for babies. Babies typically start walking from 9 to18 months but don't be discouraged if your child isn't up and running around by then. Walking takes strength, balance, and a little confidence.
Here are some exercises to get them off to a good start.
Hold onto one hand of your baby and let them use the other to hold onto the furniture as they move around. The more they practice, the more confident they will become until they use the furniture and do it independently.
Sitting on A Stool
Babies can practice their balance by sitting on a stool with their feet touching the ground. A great exercise is having them stand and grab a toy off the floor and sit back down on the seat again.
Let your baby stand up on your lap and then start bouncing on their feet on your legs while you hold their hands. The baby bounce is a great exercise to help improve their strength. Since you're holding their hands, you can coax them into the movement yourself if they don't start to bounce themselves.
Yoga's simple movements can be good for you and your baby! Here are three easy yoga poses for your baby.
The Butterfly Twist
With your baby on their back, adjust their feet to face the air like a butterfly. Gently press their feet towards their stomach while keeping their arms open to their sides. Twist their legs side to side and rock them back and forth while talking to them in soothing tones.
This exercise can be great for helping your baby relax and sleep better.
The Happy Baby
Put your baby on their back, lift their legs, and grab their feet. Then, encourage them to rock back and forth for a while. This simple movement is an excellent exercise for the hip muscles and stimulates digestion.
Downward Facing Dog
Your baby won't have the strength for this pose until they are at least 6-10 months old and are beginning to crawl. Have them put their feet and hands on the ground and stick the booty up in the air!
It's a good idea to show them this pose and have them try to mimic you by playing peekaboo.
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Baby Exercises Are Great for Their Mobility and Motor Skills
Baby exercises are a great way to make your baby stronger and help their developmental skills.
There are exercises for babies of all ages that can help prepare them for the next step in their progression from tummy time to baby yoga.
Exercising with your baby is also an excellent chance for you and them to spend time together and tighten the bonds between you while they gain self-confidence.
Doctors recommend that all children up to five years old perform some daily activity. These exercises are simple things you can do with them to help strengthen their neck, develop their hand-eye coordination and learn how to walk.
Spend quality exercise time at home with your baby to help pump them up!Related: How Long Should a Newborn Sleep: How Much is Too Much?