Babies seem so dainty and delicate. They have unfused skulls, wobbly heads and tiny fingers and toes. But if you’ve had them throw your glasses or dressed a fussy baby who refuses to put hand into the sleeves, you know how strong they can be! Like for us adults, exercises can help your little ones develop stronger muscles and bones, and promote muscle coordination. Let’s look at 5 important baby exercises and 8 important massages for your baby!
5 Important Baby Exercises
We all love playing with our babies! As their little eyes stare at the world in wonder, and are soaking up everything they see, a child’s play isn’t just play. Even when lying around, kicking legs, squirming or trying to reach something, our babies are working out their muscles, building coordination and rapidly growing at rocket speed. When trying these 5 important baby exercises, make sure that the baby is comfortable and safe. If you find your baby screaming or not enjoying it, stop right away.
Newborns spend most of their time lying on their backs. Toppling them over on their tummies can greatly help strengthen the back, stomach, arms, neck and shoulders. You can begin with 2 to 3 minutes for newborns and gradually increase the time. When they are on their tummy, talk to them, sing to them and grab their attention by placing a toy within reach. As they look up and around, try to reach for stuff, kick and move, these movements are the best exercises your baby can do. Even if your baby is fussy at first, regular practice will turn tummy time into something enjoyable over days. As your baby learns to hold his head up and his tolerance increases, do at least 20 minutes of tummy time each day. To make tummy time extra cherished, place the baby on daddy’s tummy!
We’ve all known that bicycling baby’s legs relieves gas! It’s not only an excellent way to push air out of the tummy, it is also a great lower body workout for the tiny tots. Abs, knees, hips and legs gain strength, flexibility and range of motion through this workout. Lay your baby on a flat surface and gently move the legs as if they were pedalling a bicycle. You can engage your baby by smiling and singing. Repeat the movement for 5 times, leave a short break and resume the set. Do two or three sets twice a day.
Toys that are a bright burst of colours with lights and sounds are great tools in the development of your little one. When they are infants, you can use the toys to grab their attention and to move their head from side to side. As they lay in the crib or somewhere, show a toy and move it slowly in wiggles for your baby to follow. You can also hang toys right above them to let them grasp and play. As they get around 3 to 4 months, picking up toys is a great way to build hand eye coordination, grasping ability and to strengthen arms, hands and shoulders. Sit your baby up, place different toys in front and demonstrate how to pick one up and put it down. Encourage her to use both hands. Toys that provide a feedback, like a sound when picked can be engaging for the baby.
4. Sit ups
Baby sit ups are a great way to engage the back, arms, core and shoulders! Even though you are the one pulling & pushing, you baby will still have to hold her head steadily and flex her abs, which is a huge workout for them. You can begin baby sit ups by 6 weeks of age. Place your baby on a thick towel and grab the ends of the towel to gently pull her upwards to sitting position. As she gets older, you can ditch the towel and grab her forearms. At first, just raising her head an inch or two off the floor is enough. As she builds tolerance and learns to balance, you can touch full upright positions. Make sure to support the head appropriately when needed.
The popular saying is early standers become bowlegged, which isn’t true! Being vertical gives the baby a chance to engage with the world differently. It helps strengthen the leg muscles and improve balance. Keeping baby upright after feeds also helps the food move down in the stomach, reducing reflex and facilitates burping which reduces colic. Hold your little one gently under his armpits and place his feet on your lap. All the weight must be supported by you and the baby must be free to move his legs. Most babies love this tippy toe time, and kick around and bounce, making it look like they are dancing.
8 Important Massages for Your Baby
Daily massages are a great way for you to bond with your tiny little one. Massaging promotes better sleep, relieves colic, improves immunity, and enhances intellectual development. Here we’ve listed 8 important massages for your baby that covers your baby from head to toe.
Massage your baby from head to toe every day with light circular strokes. Massage your baby’s scalp, face, chest, abdomen, back, legs and feet daily.
2. Hiccup Massage
Sometimes, little ones tend to get caught in bouts of hiccups. If the hiccups doesn’t subside in a few minutes, massaging your baby can provide relief. Baby hiccups mostly occur because of trapped air that causes the diaphragm to flutter. Keeping your baby upright and massaging the back from lower back to the shoulders can help the air move up. You can also try to place the baby on the tummy for this massage.
3. Colic, Constipation and Gas
The I Love You (ILU) massage is a great way to relieve constipation, gas and colic in babies. Place your baby on a flat surface. With light pressure, stroke steadily from under the left ribcage to the left hip of the baby. This forms the letter I. Next, make an inverted L by massaging horizontally across the abdomen, from under baby’s right rib to left rib and then continuing downwards as before. Finish the massage with an inverted U. start with the baby’s right hip, go upwards to under the right rib cage and continue massaging following the previous path. This massage is very helpful in moving hard stools, encourages bowel movements, relieves gas and colic. For more helpful colic / stomach pain remedies click here.
Some babies tend to spit up more than others. If your baby’s reflux is causing distress, a simple massage can help reduce it. Keep your baby upright for some time after feeds to help food move down in the stomach. When massaging for reflux, use a big pillow to prop baby’s head up to a 45 degree angle. Always use clockwise motions on the stomach and massage with a light touch to reduce spit ups. Although tummy time can be hard on babies with reflux, practice at least 10 minutes of tummy time each day to exercise the back.
5. Congestion and cough
Massaging your baby with warm oil can help relieve cold and cough symptoms. To relieve blocked nose, place your thumb on the inner of the eyebrow and run it down on the sides of the nose. When you reach the nose end, apply slight pressure and hold for a few seconds to drain the sinuses and blocks. Use warm oil to massage the chest, back, palms and feet to generate warmth to loosen mucus. Keep head propped up with a soft towel to drain the mucus away.
Did you know that some vaccines work more efficiently if massaged (e.g. DTP or DTap)? Ask your doctor if you can rub the vaccination site. If the doctor allows, massage the area around the vaccine with smooth strokes to reduce pain and increase the immunogenicity. Never massage directly over the point of injection.
Massaging your baby’s gum when teething is a must to relieve the irritation and pain. Use clean fingers to massage the gums during teething. Don’t apply pressure directly on the top of the gums where teeth erupt. Massage only the base of the gums for as long as your baby allows it. You can also give your baby frozen carrots to chew on to relieve the pain.
8. Jaundice Massage
Neonatal jaundice is common in newborns, which is caused by bilirubin accumulation in the blood. Research has found that massaging infants born with jaundice helps bring down their bilirubin levels to clear up the yellowish skin. However, massaging can only bring temporary relief to your little one and cannot make jaundice go away completely. Please consult your doctor for treatment instructions.
We hope that you love these 5 important baby exercises and 8 important massages for your baby! Keep watching this space for more interesting articles!