6 easy exercises to build your baby’s muscles
Bond with your baby while building the muscles needed for crawling and walking.
1. Straighten Up, Baby!
Does your newborn curl up in a ball? All babies do that because they’ve spent the last 9 months curled up in the womb. Your baby will uncurl naturally with time but you can help to strengthen their upper and lower back and stretch their chest and hips.
Place your baby face up on the floor and clasp their calves in your hands. Bend your baby’s right leg and push the right knee up to the chest while straightening the left leg down. Gently and in a smooth, continuous motion, repeat the action with your baby’s left leg. Alternate between both legs slowly. Then speed up in a quicker, continuous, bicycle motion. End off the session by pushing both knees towards the chest and pulling both legs straight and down toward the floor a few times.
2. Super Silly Stretches
If you’ve seen your newborn flail their arms and legs all over the place, you’ll know they have very little control over their limbs at this age. Increase your baby's awareness of their limbs with these stretches.
Begin with your child lying on their back or in a supported seated position e.g. in a bouncy seat. Gently turn your child's legs slightly out and circle both knees, one at a time. This will lubricate the hip joints which are important for standing, walking, and running. Repeat this motion a few times.
Next, encourage your child to grab hold of your thumbs with their hands. Carefully extend their arms out to the sides, then fold them over their chest. Gently work through any resistance as you repeat this exercise a few times.
3. Budding Boxer
The gripping and punching actions of this fun exercise will help to stimulate your baby's fine and gross motor skills.
Encourage your child to grip your thumbs in their hands. When they have a good hold, slowly and smoothly bend and straighten their arms. As your child ‘punches’, put sound to the action by saying, "Good jab!" "Punch!" "Bam!" "Pop!" See how excited your baby gets by the sound effects.
You can also do this with your baby’s legs. Curl their toes around your thumbs, then gently hold onto their feet with your fingers. Slowly and smoothly bicycle their legs in the air as if they’re kick-boxing. Don’t forget to add the sound effects for each kick.
4. 3, 2, 1, Blast Off!
Rocket into space with an out-of-this-world exercise to strengthen your baby's back and neck muscles.
Lie down on your back and place your baby, face down, on your chest. Count backwards from five. When you reach one, say, "Blastoff!" and raise your baby into the air. Holding your baby like this will encourage her to use her neck muscles to keep her head up.
As you bring your baby back down to your chest, say, "(Baby's name) is coming in for a landing. Mission accomplished!"
5. Roly Poly
This game encourages your baby to roll from side to side.
Lay your baby next to you on a soft surface and place two of their favourite toys on either side of them. Say to your baby, “It’s time to roll,” so that they know what they’re doing. Gently roll your baby over to one side so they can see the toy, reach for it and play with it. Then roll them over to the other side so that they will see the other toy.
When your baby gets used to this game, try picking up one of the toys and holding it above their face. Then move it a little bit to the side and encourage your baby to grab it – give them the toy if they roll over. Make sure your baby’s head is on a soft comfortable surface and that their head is supported if they lift it off the ground.
6. Plane Play
Lay your baby, face-down, on your outstretched arms, adjusting their feet so that they are pressing firmly against your chest. Fly your baby around the room while carefully, raising and lowering your arms and making animated plane sounds or singing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.