Baby Exercise: Why it’s Important and 10 Baby Exercise Ideas

Physical activity is critical for healthy bodies, but did you know it’s even important for babies?  Yup, your baby needs 60 minutes of exercise a day just like you and your older children.  Exercise with a baby should be fun and playful.  Today we’re exploring why baby exercise is important and 10 ideas for exercising your baby.

The Importance of Baby Exercise

Healthy behaviors are learned from a very young age.  This is true in both a biological and psychological perspective.  In the early years of life children’s brains make a connection with their muscles.  If muscles are not stimulated during infancy and toddlerhood, the link between the brain and muscles may be weak.  Activating this synergy early will make physical activity more natural and fun for your child well into adulthood.

Exercise is also a value that families must help their children prioritize for sustained health.  Parents can be good role models for healthy behaviors including working out or incorporating sports and active play into the family’s lifestyle.  And it all begins by helping your baby exercise as an infant.  That means less time spent in bouncy chairs, baby swings and car carriers, and more time down on the floor and engaging in movement-based play.

Baby Exercise: Why it’s Important and 10 Baby Exercise Ideas10 Ideas for Baby Exercise:

  • Tummy Time: You probably know how challenging yoga can be for you; tummy time is an equivalent workout for your baby.  Tummy time can begin as soon as your baby comes home from the hospital and should be done in short increments progressively adding up to an hour a day.  This will help strengthen your baby’s core, back and neck muscles for every gross motor skill he will eventually master.
  • Back Play: Laying on your back may feel like relaxing, but it’s exercise for your baby.  The supine position is how your baby will experience the world for the first few months of life.  Within the first two or three months he’ll get a feel for moving his arms and legs, which begin as reflexes and evolve into smoother, more controlled, intentional movements.  Your baby needs the space and freedom to develop these movements.
  • Bicycle: While your baby is on his back, move his legs in a bicycle motion both forwards and backwards.  Make a game out of it to elicit smiles too.
  • Grasping: Using a playmat with objects dangling over your baby’s head is a terrific way to encourage reaching and grasping. As your baby advances in age, he will be intrigued by colorful and noisy toys and he will begin to want to play with them.  You’ll notice his interest, curiosity and delight as he manipulates toys independently.
  • Arm Motions: Like the bicycle for legs, move your baby’s arms in wide circles, up-and-down and across the body to stretch the muscles of the arms, chest and back.
  • Raise-Ups: Holding your baby’s hands and encouraging him to grasp your fingers, slowly raise your baby up to a sitting or standing position.  He will have to use his strength to keep his head aligned and bear weight on his lower body.
  • Standing: Help your baby get into a standing position for brief moments.  You can make fun games out of it by helping your baby dance to music, playing peek-a-boo or putting your baby in front of a mirror to watch himself stand.  He will increasingly bear weight on his feet as he gets older.
  • Overhead Fly: Place your baby on your shins while you roll backwards.  Your baby essentially will be doing tummy time on your legs.  The instability of the surface will be more challenging though.  Plus he gets to look down at his most favorite person while doing it!
  • Exercise Ball: Not just for your workouts, an exercise ball can be useful for baby exercise too.  Place your baby on the ball for tummy time or sit him upright holding his hips and move the ball so he has to use the core to stay balanced.
  • Rolling: Baby’s usually roll between three and five months old.  Help your baby roll by rocking him back and forth and gently rolling him from tummy to back and back to tummy.

Instill a love for movement and physical activity with these baby exercise ideas for healthy habits in the future.