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


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.


Baby Time: Fun with Links

You may have received a bag of oval links at your baby shower from mother exclaiming “These are the best things ever!” You look at her with a puzzled look thinking, “How?”

Links are a great way to encourage your infant to be more active by bringing toys down to him. Use the links in combination with your baby gym. Link the ovals together until they are on the baby’s chest or near his hands. Place baby’s favorite rattle at the end of the links, or simply use the links themselves at the end. As your baby moves his arms randomly, he will inevitably touch the links causing the chain to move. This will gain his attention visually and he will move his head toward the visual stimulation. This activity strengthens the neck muscles and trunk muscles in preparation for independent head control as well as strengthens the arm muscles in preparation for active and accurate reaching.

If it is too difficult for your child to lift his arms off the ground when you do this activity, place him in a boppy pillow laying under the play gym, this will make it easier for him to lift his arms and contact the links.

When is the best time to start this activity? You can start a few weeks after baby’s birth, when he is alert enough for some play time!

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


Toddler Time: Core Strength while sitting on a small ball

Click here to check out a video of core strength activities you can do NOW with your toddler

Core strength is essential to great movement patterns. It is never to early to start! Sitting on a ball causes your baby’s core and leg muscles to activate more than sitting in a solid surface.

As a pediatric physical therapist, I often use what a family has around their home to create my exercise programs. This video shows a sequence of activities that you can put into place today with your little one. All you need is a small playground ball for a toddler 18 months to 3 or a large playground ball for 4 to 5 year older, another ball and a puzzle.

In this video I start getting the little one comfortable sitting on the ball with a song. We follow that with play using both hands with a ball. I work in moving up down and rotating. The trick to getting a child to use both hands is providing a little resistance to the object so that they bring the other hand to help! We then work with a puzzle reaching in all directions.

This little one loved it and wanted more!

Have fun with your little one today and have purposeful play!

For more information on exercises to progress your babies and toddlers like this page and check out Babies First Fitness on Facebook.


Toddler Time: The Power of Pushing

Toddler Time: The Power of Pushing

Often, as a Mom, I am looking for something to wear my kids out! Don’t underestimate the power of pushing!

Pushing activities are great for pre-walkers to older children. It is an activity that you can do with all of your kids. Pushing activities strengthen the muscles in the front and the back of the body in balance, this means that the abdominals and pectoral muscles are strengthened in balance with the hip extensors and back muscles. If you choose to push lower objects (see picture in comments) your child is lengthening his hamstrings and activating the muscles on the front of his foot (dorsiflexors). This is great for all those kids who walk on their toes out there!

There are so many ways to modify this activity and to make it fun for your entire family.
. Place objects around the house and have the kids push a laundry basket around to pick the objects up.
. Play choo-choo with your kids and have children push each other in those large Amazon boxes that all the holiday gifts arrive in!
. For more core work, push diaper wipes containers or wrapped diapers around and knock down a stack of blocks or cups.

The trick with this activity is that pushing a box or a laundry basket has more surface area and therefore is harder to push than something with wheels, make it harder for the older kids and a just right challenge for the toddlers.

Enjoy this great activity and tire those kids out indoors!

For more suggestions on promoting gross motor skills for your little one, like and check out Babies First Fitness on Facebook.


Toddler Time: Arm and Core Strengthening Using the Stairs

Click here to check out a video of how to strengthen your toddler using the stairs in your own home!

As a pediatric physical therapist, I often work with many of my clients in their home. There is no better piece of exercise equipment in the home than the stairs!

One of my favorite exercises to do on the stairs is to have children walk on their hands up the stairs. Now, don’t get me wrong, if someone asked me to do this 5 times in a row I might be mad, however let me assure you most kids love it! They love the challenge, the fact that they can use their hands on the stairs and love the fun and excitement in whatever game you are playing.

This activity strengthens the arms and trunk. It also strengthens the hips and legs if you are holding a bit lower. Here are the steps:

– Grab a motivator, sometimes I use a stuffed animal and throw it up the stairs, other times I specifically place puzzle pieces in the stairs so we go up a few stairs at a time
– Place child’s hands on the stair
– Hold child by the pelvis
– Encourage child to go up the stairs to a puzzle piece or stuffed animal 5-12 steps away depending on your child’s strength.
– To make it easier for the child, hold child at the pelvis.
– To make it harder for the child, hold child below the pelvis

Your child can be ready for this activity anywhere between 18-24 months old and up. A good rule of thumb is if your child can walk in his or her hands on the floor while you hold their pelvis for 10 steps this is something you can start. Just be aware of your child collapsing their arms, we would not want him to hurt his face!

Enjoy this activity to wear your little ones out during crazy cooped up days! For more information on how to exercise your little one, like this page and check babies first fitness on Facebook.



Baby and Toddler Time: Easy activity to improve your child’s core strength

Click here to check out a video of an easy way to improve baby and toddler trunk strength

If there is one activity that I wish each family would do with their child, it would be this one! As a pediatric physical therapist, some variation of this activity is typically the first thing I do at the beginning of each session because if your trunk is not ready and active it is hard to get the rest of the body active.

This is an easy activity that you can do anywhere, with anything to strengthen you child’s core muscles. Think of this activity as a side plank combined with an oblique sit up…. feel the burn!
This activity is great for babies who are able to support weight on their extended arms (some time after 7 months) all they way up to childhood. In fact, sit on a chair and try it yourself, it’s not easy!

Tips for this activity
. Hold child facing you with legs straddling your body
. Place toy diagonally behind the child so they will reach to get it with an extended trunk, not flexed
. Hold child at their trunk, the lower you hold, the more the child has to work, for younger children you may hold at the upper chest and for older children at the waist or lower
. Slowly lower child to the floor so they support themselves on one arm and reach for the toy with the other arm, this brings rotation into the movement which is very important for core strength
. When It is time to get up, gently press down on the top hip while just supporting the child on the lower side to encourage the child to sit up
. Do 8-10 times per side
. I love doing this with puzzle pieces. It is perfect!

Enjoy and let me know how it works for you!

For more developmental exercises and tips for your little one, please like this page and check out