With the arrival of Spring comes the bathing suit ads and the reminder that it is time to shed the winter insulation. Busy moms are challenged to find time for exercise, so below I share 5 exercises that you can do with your baby or small toddler. The baby in these photos is now five, but we still love to do the Airplane (below) and it is much more challenging now that he weighs 30 more pounds!
Notes on safety:
- These exercises should only be done once you have been cleared for exercise by your health care provider, usually at your six week postpartum visit.
- Ask your health care provider to check for diastasis recti, which is a separation of the musculature in the abdomen, which is common in the postpartum body. A fitness professional with pre- and postnatal expertise, like myself, can check for the presence of diastasis recti, also.
- A physical therapist or diastasis rehab specialist can guide healing of this condition. Heavy lifting and abdominal straining can exacerbate diastasis, so it is important to be screened.
- Here is a link for how to check this condition on yourself. If in doubt, consult a professional.
Set up is very important with this exercise. You must brace with your core and maintain a neutral (not rounded or slouched) spine. Bracing feels like a tight wrap around your waist and offers stability to your spine.
- Begin by holding baby close to chest. Brace with core. (Say “haaa”)
- Push baby up at a diagonal while continuing to brace.
- Lower baby down and repeat 10-15 times.
- Sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to add a playful element.
- Lie on your back and place baby belly down on your shins. Baby should have good head control.
- Take a breath in and as you exhale, activate the core and bring knees into chest, lifting head from floor using core NOT neck.
- As you lower, try not to disengage the core muscles.
- Repeat 5 – 8 times. Discontinue if there is pain in your back or neck.
- Lie on back, holding baby above chest.
- Brace with your core. EXHALE and push baby up.
- Lower baby down slowly to a count of 4.
- Lift for a count of 2.
- Make sound effects on the lift like “weee” or “whoosh.”
Peek a Boo Play
- From all 4’s, brace your core and extend arm and opposite leg. Inhale.
- Have someone check to make sure your hips are even and that your back is not sagging.
- Exhale and curl elbow and opposite knee together while hugging the belly to the spine.
- Extend arm and leg again and say, “peek a boo.”
- Repeat sequence 5 times each side.
- Squat with baby held at chest height. Pause.
- In the squat, exhale, do a Kegel, and activate the core.
- As you rise, count down “3, 2, 1, Blast off!” Continue to Kegel and activate the core.
- As you squat, inhale and repeat up to 10 times.
Have you ever included your little one in your workout routine? What are your favorite exercises post-baby?