Babies First Fitness . . . working for real families!

I am SO honored!  I was contacted by a lovely Canadian mom blogger from a blog Great Northern Family stating that she was going to feature my blog on her blog . . . are you following?  I was so excited.  I am so honored that someone out there was reading my posts and found them so helpful for her son!  Thank you to Becky for writing about how Babies First Fitness fits into your life with your son.

If you have a chance, follow Becky and her son’s journey about intentional parenting.  I think you will find her posts inspiring and sweet!

Here are the two posts from Great Northern Family, click on the post name to connect to the link.


Kicking Rolling and Throwing

My Featured Blog Post – The Simple Reason Why I don’t hold my kid’s hands, and why you shouldn’t either

I was honored to be the featured blogger on my friend’s blog “No One Asked me but . . .” Tracy Wannamacher is an amazing speech language pathologist that I work with.  If you have a moment check out my post and also sign up for her blog to get her great information right to your inbox!

The week that I wrote the post, I had been talking to a lot of families about not holding their kid’s hands, allowing kids to fall . . . and the post explains why . . .

Click here to check out My Blog Post at No One Asked Me BUT . . .

How to help infants attain gross motor skills: Practical ideas for caregivers of infants 0-12 months old

Have you been concerned about your infant’s development?  I recently updated my Slideshare presentation which has been viewed over 119,000 times.  This presentation includes practical exercises to help your infant attain the next milestone.  Take a look and let me know what you think!

How to help infants attain gross motor skills: Practical Ideas for caregivers of infants 0-12 months old from Julie Wattenberg, PT, MPT, DPT

Click link above for a Power Point: How to help infants attain gross motor skills: Practical ideas for caregivers of infants 0-12 months old

Kids Agility with Animal Walks

Animal walks are an engaging activity for kids of all ages! CLICK HERE to see a video with a 6, 4, and 2 year old engaged in the same activity.  While their agility levels are different, they all gained strength, range of motion, muscle power, agility and cardiovascular endurance from the activity.

Getting children excited about exercise and agility is as easy as appealing to their imagination.

One activity that I love to do with all of my patients and my own kids is animal walks.  Animal walks involve having your children move like different animals.  Animal walks are great for improving arm/leg and core strength, introducing body weight exercise, promoting range of motion, introducing agility (the ability to change the body’s position efficiently), improving muscular power, improving overall coordination and promoting body awareness through imaginative play.

The beauty of animal walks is that you and your children can be creative! Start with standard animal walks shown in this video, and then make up your own. One activity that has been motivating with my patients this week is to show the kids the video and pause after each animal walk and have the child do the movement around a large square space in the house and then come back to the i-phone and watch the next animal movement and so on until we have completed all the animal walks.  I invite you to do the same with your kids! It is a great 15 minute activity that will wear them out!

The animal walks included in this video improve the following areas of strength, range and agility/balance (the list is not exhaustive for each activity):

  • Bear Walk – strengthens core, triceps, shoulder girdle, hip flexors and extensors, plantarflexors, dorsiflexors, quadriceps; stretches hamstrings,  plantarflexors, and latissimus dorsi; works on agility
  • Gorilla walk – strengthens core, lateral trunk strengthening, shoulder girdle, triceps, hips, quadriceps, plantarflexors, lateral hips; works on agility, muscle power
  • Giraffe walk – strengthens core, shoulder girdle, plantarflexors, hips; works on balance
  • Kangaroo hop – strengthens core, quadriceps, hips, plantarflexors; works on agility, balance and quickness of movement
  • Snake Crawl – works on core strength specifically lateral trunk strength, hip extension and flexion, latissimus dorsi strength, shoulder girdle strength; stretches hip flexors and trunk into extension, works on agility
  • Crab walk – strengthens core, shoulder girdle, triceps, hip extensors, quadriceps, dorsiflexors; stretches front of hips and chest; works on agility
  • Dinosaur Walk – strengthens core, hip flexors on the kick side, hip extensors and lateral hip muscles on the side stabilizing, stretches hip flexor on standing side and hamstring on kicking side; works on agility and balance
  • Frog jumps – strengthens core, hip extensors, quadriceps, plantarflexors, stretches hips, plantarflexors, works on agility and muscle power

Enjoy this activity with your kids!  The muscles lengthened and strengthened are not as important as having fun with your kids!  Feel free to join in with them . . . you will get a great workout too!

Toddler Time: Whole Body Strengthening


Toddler Time: Whole Body Strengthening

Did you know that toddlers love to exercise? Did you know that when you exercise with your toddler, they love it even more? As a Pediatric Physical Therapist, I know toddlers love to exercise because I work with enthusiastic toddlers 8-10 hours per day who want to move whether it is easy for them or not!

Today I am sharing a whole body strengthening activity for you and your toddler to do together. It will strengthen their shoulders, arms, hands, trunk, lateral (side) hips, back hips, lengthen hamstring, strengthen core… Got it … The whole body!

Some tips for this exercise
🎈 Have fun with your toddler, make it a game.
🎈 Use a toy with about 8-10 pieces as motivation, a simple puzzle or Mr. Potato head work nicely.
🎈 This activity is great for kids 20 months to 7 years.
🎈 To make it harder move the lines farther apart and make the lines longer.


It is my purpose to provide activities that you can do today with your baby and toddler to encourage their strength and development.  For more ideas on how you can exercise your baby and toddler, subscribe to this page by adding your email and like Babies First Fitness on Facebook.


Moving Beyond Sitting, Strategies to Progress Your Baby To Independent Transitions

Sitting is a huge milestone for babies and parents.  It is a sign that your baby is becoming more independent and often can entertain himself for a longer period of time.  Typically, sitting occurs around 6-9 months in development.

Most parents would agree that sitting is a really important skill.  Once a child can sit, they are on the right track to progress their development right?  Not necessarily.  Sitting is a very important skill, but many times families work on sitting too much and miss the important pieces that lead up to sitting which include transition skills, such as rolling from back to stomach and stomach to back, transitioning from sitting to the floor and transitioning from the floor to sitting.  Further, once children learn to sit many families no longer place their child in other positions besides sitting.  This limits the child’s ability to work on their transition skills (rolling, moving in and out of sitting) because they do not have a strong desire to move out of sitting.  I often have done evaluations of children who sat at 6 months, but did not progress beyond sitting because they did not have the foundational skills necessary to progress their gross motor skills.  In my opinion, as a pediatric physical therapist, if a child is not sitting independently at six months old, but is rolling around the room, pulling themselves forward on his or her bally and/or pushing themselves backwards, I am happy.  My goal is always to get a child to move about his environment independently so that he can learn from his environment.  I want the child to be able to get the toy that is just out of reach, not play only with a toy that is handed to him or her.  THIS is how a baby learns.  As a pediatric physical therapist, I want kids to get into “trouble” by getting caught with her legs under the couch because she pushed herself backwards!

The purpose of this post, as with all of my posts, is to provide you with ACTION steps that you can take to progress your baby beyond sitting . . . exercises that you can do today to progress your baby’s gross motor skills and allow your child to learn from his or her environment.  Whether you are worried about your baby’s development or not, these activities will help you to progress your baby’s skills and will help your baby to develop smooth, coordinated movement.

Activity 1:Transition to sitting

If you have not started yet, click here to check out my blog post, Baby Time: Is there a best way to pick up baby?

best way to pick up baby Using this method to pick up your baby will strengthen his or her lateral (side) trunk and neck muscles as well as arm and hip muscles necessary to teach your child to how to transition from the floor to sitting on her own.  As your baby gets older and stronger, she will start doing more of the work and you will do less of the work!

Activity 2: Toy Placement to the SIDE not in front

When your baby is sitting, it is tempting to place his toys right in front of him so they are within reach.  However, when you do this, your child is just moving in the front and back plane, not strengthening the muscles side to side.  Therefore, making a very simple change, by placing toys to the side of the baby helps the baby learn to shift his weight side to side and strengthens the muscles of the trunk and hips aiding the baby in learning transitions between movements.


Activity 3: Don’t put your baby in sitting all the time!

It is so tempting to put your baby in sitting all the time once she learns how to sit.  However, it is very important that you still put your baby on her tummy so that she can practice reaching, rolling and weight shifting in preparation for crawling.  I have a rule that I created for infants called the TBS rule, click here to check out this blog post about the TBS rule, What is a baby container . . . and why is it bad?  Once a baby learns how to sit, you can still apply the TBS rule, except replace the swing/seat with sitting.  The goal is to allow your baby to move around before you place him or her in a static position.

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Adding these simple changes can help your baby improve her movement patterns BEYOND sitting!

For more developmental exercises for your little ones, like and find us on Facebook!





Baby Time: Is there a best way to pick up baby?

Click here to see a video of the BEST way to pick up your baby!

One of the reasons I started Babies First Fitness was because I believe parents who have their children in therapy with pediatric therapists are at an advantage when it comes to learning developmentally appropriate exercises. I wanted to bring these exercises to everyone.

In my opinion, as a Pediatric Physical Therapist, there is a best way to pick up baby. As seen in the video, when you roll baby to her side and pick her up from there, you are helping her strengthen the muscles on the side of her body, the side of the neck, the side of the trunk and she is learning to push through the bottom arm, strengthening the shoulder and arm muscles.

One of the primary movement problems that children have now is that they move primarily in one plane, the front and back plane (saggital plane). Babies and children have difficulties with side to side muscle movement and rotational movement. This simple exercise, done every time you pick up baby, helps baby to strengthen the muscles on her side, making her neck, trunk and arms stronger.

Here are the steps:
. Every time you pick up baby place your hands on the side of her trunk
. Roll baby to her side
. Gently press your top hand down toward the ground as you lift the bottom hand up lifting the baby
. As the baby gets stronger, she will help you more and more, first with her head, then trunk, then arms. Be sure to wait and allow the baby time to activate her muscles
. Next time you pick up baby, do the other side

You can start this as soon as you are comfortable controlling your baby’s head, some people are comfortable at 2 weeks, others at 6 weeks. The younger the baby is, the higher your hands on her trunk. If your baby is older, it is never too late to start!

For more developmental ideas for your little one, like this page and check out

Help! My baby tilts his head to one side all the time! Activities you can do NOW to help your baby.

Why does my baby tilt her head to the same side all the time?

There are a few possibilities for why babies might have a preference for head tilt to one side.

  • The way the baby was positioned in utero. The baby may have been cramped in the same position for a long time.  This is often the case with multiples.  If this happens, the baby’s neck muscle can become shortened and the baby will end up with a preference for tilting his head to one side after birth. If the baby is cramped the baby’s head can also develop a flat spot according to the forces that are on it, therefore the baby’s head is flat on one side from the position in utero and the baby rotates head to the flat spot after birth.
  • The way the baby prefers to lay after birth. Babies do not have the strength to hold their head in the middle after birth, depending on how the baby is positioned, he may have a preference to hold his head to one side in the bassinette or the bouncy seat.  If the baby does this to the same side all the time, then the baby’s muscles will become tight and result in asymmetrical head position.  Check out the blog post Take Caution with Elevated Sleeping for Baby on at
  • True Torticollis. A true torticollis is when a baby has a fast delivery or is pulled out quickly.  The Sternocleidomastoid muscle of the neck has some trauma and as a result shortens causing the baby to tilt their head to one side and rotate their head to the opposite side.


Whatever the reason for the tilt is, it is important that you see a pediatric physical therapist to determine your child’s exact range of motion limitations, movement preferences and strength limitations as head tilt not only affects the head position, but affects development of the arms, legs and trunk as well. While you are waiting for your appointment with your Physical Therapist, you can try some of these suggestions based on your own observations.


My goal at is to provide EVERYONE with exercises they can do NOW with their babies.  Therefore, I created this chart that you can start to use now while you are waiting for your evaluation or if your doctor has asked you to wait until the next visit to determine if your baby needs therapy.  The purpose of this chart is not to avoid physical therapy but rather to get a head start on what they might tell you at your first visit.

I have created a free printable chart for parents and professionals to guide you to activities you can do TODAY to help your baby progress her skills and prevent progression of the head tilt or head rotation preference.  Click on the link below to get your chart!

Click here for your free printable handout


Check out and like Babies First Fitness on Facebook for more information on activities you can do today with your babies and toddlers to progress their development.



Printable Chart: The Progression of Gross Motor Skills in Early Childhood

Check out this free printable created by Babies First Fitness showing the progression of higher level gross motor skills in the Early Childhood population 3-5 year olds.


progression of early childhood chart

Progression of Early Childhood Skills – chart

If you notice that your child is lacking in any of these skills, check out and like the page for continuously updated ideas on how you can improve your toddler’s strength and agility!  Also, please check out and like Babies First Fitness on Facebook!



Toddler Time: Activities to Work on Standing on One Leg

It’s Toddler Time!

In celebration of Halloween my little friends have been working on Monster Kicking.

Put objects such as bowling pins on top of solo cups. Ask your toddler to kick the object instead of the cup. This encourages the toddler to stand on one leg longer, strengthens the muscles in the standing leg and improves balance strategies in the standing leg.

For more suggestions on promoting gross motor skills for your little ones, like this page and like Babies First Fitness on Facebook.