As a mother of three children four years old and under and working out of the home full time, it is difficult to fit eveything in. I leave the house at 7:15 and arrive home at 5:30. By the time I leave in the morning at 7:15, I have worked out, pumped once, nursed the baby once, dressed three kids, made four beds, fetched a number of snacks, gave morning kisses, wiped morning tears, got myself ready and packed a lunch. My work day is like a breath of fresh air, even though I work with kids, it is predictable, I know exactly what is going to happen that day (mostly). By the end of my work day, I have pumped twice and seen 9 patients. I then get in my car, strap on the pump and pump in the car and make any appointments, phone calls necessary in order to not waste any time with my kids. I walk in the door at 5:30 to a number of demands on my time, barely putting my bags away, I am asked for any number of things from wiping noses to wiping bottoms to cleaning spilled milk to playing outside which is then followed by making dinner, cleaning after dinner, getting snacks, bath time, reading books, playtime, snuggle time with the big ones and nursing the baby. . . My day is no different from any other mother or father with children, working in or out of the home, full! . . . So the question I get often is how are we collectively as parents expected to fit every thing in and exercise our babies and toddlers? The answer is simple . . . have the tools to exercise baby available to you at all times in a dedicated area and integrate it into your day.
Here are a few tips to integrate exercise with your baby into your busy day . . .
1. If you bathe your baby and diaper your baby . . . you can exercise your baby.
Exercise with baby can be paired with your every day activities with baby. For example, doing some visual tracking exercises side to side to help baby strengthen her neck during bath. After bath, doing a bit of massage while putting on baby’s lotion is a great way to bond with baby and does not add too much extra time into your day. Further, if your baby always tends to look to one side, during diaper changes position yourself so that you are to the non preferred side will help baby look in all directions and does not take any extra time, just being efficient and effective with your time.
2. If you carry your baby . . . you can exercise your baby.
Specific carrying positions can be great ways to exercise baby. Holding baby belly down in the first few months is a great way to work on strengthening the neck. Holding baby facing out after four months is a great way to strengthen the back of the neck and the lateral (side) muscles of the neck. Using a front carrier helps baby get stronger by making him respond to your movements with neck and trunk muscle activation.
3. If you sit and play with your baby . . . you can exercise your baby.
Having the exercise equipment available to you in the baby’s play area if the key here, making sure that you have a dedicated area for baby to play and have her exercise equipment available so that it is easy for you to play with baby in an effective manner. For example, if you are working on getting baby to reach for a toys when on his or her back, be sure to have the play gym always set up in the baby’s area so that you can put the baby under the play gym and work on active reaching. If an exercise ball is used in your baby’s exercises, have it handy in your baby’s play area, so you can bring it out for a few minutes each day.
Create stations in baby’s play area where you work on different activities in different areas. For example, make a busy box to use to work on sitting by hanging toys on the edge of a square fabric box with links, place a mirror in the area where baby works on tummy time and a play gym in the area where baby does back time.
4. If you pick up your baby . . . you can exercise your baby
Being more deliberate when you pick your baby up from a layng down position, can help your baby strengthen his neck and trunk muscles. Rolling baby from back to tummy after a diaper change or whenever you are picking him up can strengthen baby’s lateral neck and trunk muscles. click on this post to see how, Baby Time: Is there a best way to pick up baby?
There are so many daily care techniques that we already do with our baby, doing these activities deliberately with intention can help us exercise our baby and have fun and bond with baby at the same time. Stay tuned for all of the great exercises you can do with baby!