Tummy time is one of the most essential exercises for babies to start as early as when your child is 3 to 4 months old. The basic idea is to put your baby on his stomach on a well-supported, solid surface like the floor. Your baby will initially struggle to hold his head up, but his efforts will strengthen his neck and back muscles.
Once he learns to raise his head, encourage him to wiggle and push himself forward by placing toys just out of his reach. You can also use his favorite toys to keep him engaged and extend tummy time to longer periods. Ensure that you are always by his side to supervise this activity when you try this exercise.
Doctors recommend starting with 5 to 10 minutes of tummy time and slowly increasing it. For more information on how to practice this activity, visit this article "What's the importance of tummy time for a baby?" by Mayo Clinic.
Give your baby’s legs, hips, and abdomen a good workout with this exercise. Have your baby lie on his back and gently move his legs up and down in a circular fashion that resembles pedaling a bicycle. This action forces his legs to stretch outwards and then inwards. It also helps him contract and flex his abdominal muscles. Another big advantage of bicycling is that it relieves gas by pushing air out of his system.
3. Chest cross
This is another exercise that your child can do when he is very little. Lay your baby on his back with his arms outstretched. Slowly wrap his fingers around your forefinger, so he has a tight grip. Now bring both his arms across his chest at the same time, till they cross. Hold this position in place for half a minute and then return his arms to the outstretched position. Repeat the movement several times on a regular basis. This will increase his range of reach and help with arm muscle development.
4. Kicking exercises
Your baby needs strong leg muscles and good balance to eventually start walking. Kicking exercises will strengthen his legs and improve his flexibility. For this, give him something to kick. Place your hand near his feet, so he can aim and kick at it. When presented with resistance, his kicks will tend to become stronger over time and less random. You can also dangle safe and soft toys for him to kick away. Objects that make sounds when moved will excite him and encourage more attempts at kicking.
5. Lifting and gripping exercises
Your baby cannot lift much weight. Nevertheless, it is important to help him strengthen his arm muscles and learn how to grip things with a strong hold. Place objects like rattles, blocks, and toys at a raised height. Your baby should be able to reach these objects with a little stretching. Encourage him to pick up each object while on his tummy. This will promote dexterity, muscle development, coordination, and core strength. You can place all these items in a bin that he can slowly reach into and pull things out of.
Or you can lay him flat on his back and place toys on either side. This will encourage him to twist towards the items he likes and try to pick them up. Slowly move the toy up and down, so he must bend and stretch to reach it. This activity improves coordination and flexibility.
You can get started with these 5 simple exercises to get your baby moving! As your baby grows older, you will be able to add more exercises and activities to the list.