Babies are born with weak muscles and bones. In their early years, it is very important that you help them promote their muscular development. According to paediatricians, we as parents need to help our babies build flexibility, coordination, and strength with some age-appropriate routines and activities. This will help them walk sooner and with more confidence.
Healthy muscles and bones are an indicator of overall health. If your baby has good muscular strength and healthy bones, chances are he will also learn to crawl, walk and run about faster!
Once your baby has been weaned off breastfeeding, it is advisable to introduce him to strengthening foods rich in calcium, Vitamin-D and protein. Some of these include chicken, spinach, cheese and fruits.
However, it is not sufficient to just depend on a healthy diet to make your baby stronger; you also need to start some important physical exercises. Yes, even babies as young as two months old need some amount of physical activity to become stronger
1. Give Your Baby Tummy Time
This is the most common of all trunk strengthening exercises for babies suggested by paediatricians. Simply put your newborn on his tummy after every feeding. This act builds the core muscles of your baby’s tummy. There are many variations to this, such as:
Place your baby on a blanket so he can also get some floor-time and explore his surroundings
Place your baby on the tummy between both of your knees. This also helps the baby to release trapped gas
Place your baby on daddy’s tummy! This is a fun and very useful variation of tummy time that can be done after you’ve breastfed the baby, or in the evening time before bed [Bonus: this also strengthens the emotional bond between the father and baby. We recommend you definitely ask your husband to try this out!]
Tip: Remember that whenever your child is not lying on the back, he is working on increasing his head control and neck strength. So, minimize lying downtime after your child is 2- 3 months old and make sure that your baby is getting exposure to enough physical activity.
2. Help Your Baby Sit-Up
Age: 4 Months (or when a baby is able to support her head)
This is how to do it: Place a blanket on the bed and then place the baby on the blanket. Then, hold the blanket on each side slightly above the head, with your baby in the middle of your arms. Slowly lift the blanket so your baby comes to a sitting position, then lower it back down again. This is a very simple and safe exercise to help your baby gain upper body strength.
This little core exercise really helps babies as they start crawling, standing and walking.
Lay your baby down and let him pull himself up and put him back down.
Let your baby lead this exercise as it strengthens his core.
After doing this exercise, a baby gets better at sitting up.
Daily exercise also helps babies sleep better and stay happier all day!
3. Baby Massage Complex Exercises
Age: 0 Months Onwards
Massage is one age-old trick that never fails! The benefits of an oil massage are now well accepted by doctors, and it can definitely help make your baby’s muscles and bones stronger. You can start massaging your baby’s body early – as early as a week or two old. There are a few movements/exercises that you should do as part of baby massage in order to build the baby’s strength:
Hold your baby’s wrists and lift the baby off the massage table (just a few centimetres). This exercise helps the development of the cervical spine
Place your baby on the tummy, his knees spread apart but his feet together. Press the baby’s feet with your thumbs. Voila! Your baby will try to push himself forward. This exercise is very useful for leg muscle development
After the massage, keep your palm on the baby’s chest and press lightly. This helps eliminate congestion from the lungs and increases ventilation, both of which are good for overall respiratory strength
Note: Make sure you do NOT use rigorous or high-pressure strokes. Only a gentle massage using skin-friendly baby oil is beneficial for your baby’s improved blood circulation, and in turn, bodily strength. Refer to this guide on baby massage when in doubt.