Promoting Healthy Choices
There are a million ways to bond with baby and some of the best are the healthiest. Whether the weather is warming up or cooling down, these fun mommy-and-me exercises can be done anywhere. Choose from some of the below workouts to do in the comfort of your home or outdoors and enjoy the weather at your local park!
Benefits of Working Out with Baby
Before we explore some ideas of how you can workout with your little one, consider why you should think about incorporating mommy and me workouts into your daily routine.
Aside from the fact that working out with your little one will help you get back into your pre-baby jeans, exercise can help moms mentally as well! Whether a mother or not, exercise helps individuals improve their mental health states and lowers stress levels. Having a newborn baby can be stressful as sleepless nights become more frequent. With that said, try incorporating exercise to help you sleep better.
“Baby carrying, especially in the first six months, is a great way to burn more calories throughout the day as well as helping baby to establish a secure attachment to Mom,” says Helene Byrne, founder of BeFit-Mom.
The baby benefits from the mother-baby bonding too. The interaction you build with your baby through movements that help you feel more confident and self-aware help babies adjust, develop, and grow. As they see you move, you are helping develop their cognitive and physical abilities as they may or may not try to mirror your movements, and understand your place in their space.
Workouts with Wee One
Many fun and easy workouts to start with resemble yoga poses and other dynamic stretches. Consider the “plank” exercise which targets the back, abdominals, buttocks, shoulders, and triceps.
Parents.com instructs that you start on hands and knees, with your baby on his back below you. Lower your forearms to the floor so that your shoulders are directly above your elbows. Slide your knees back about 12 inches, keeping your back flat and your abs contracted. Hold the pose while you sing your baby’s favorite nursery rhyme. Work up from 30 seconds to two minutes.
Baby Bench Press
The “Baby Bench Press” is as simple as it sounds. Lie on your back and hold your baby securely above your chest with arms straight. Lower elbows, keeping arms close to your sides, and then extend arms straight up. Repeat while smiling and making facial interactions with your baby while keeping your arms muscles engaged.
As you push baby in a stroller in front of you, throw in some interval training by speeding up for 30 seconds then slowing down. Add some uphill runs in for added resistance. For additional resistance, do some squats as you stroll around your neighborhood with baby.
Stroller or Regular Crunches
Northjersey.com instructs that you lie on your back next to the stroller facing your baby with your feet flat on the ground, knees bent at 90 degrees. Put your hands behind your head, keeping your elbows back. Squeeze your belly button to your spine and crunch up. As you come up, peek into your stroller, saying “Peek-a-boo” to your baby, and lower back down. Exhale as you come up, keeping your elbows back. Reps: 25.
Last week we covered beauty from the outside in, using makeup and tips on how to feel better with a dash of lipstick and a brush of blush. This week we will go into how to feel good from the inside out! Sleepless nights can wear on the skin and on our bodies which can often lead to unhealthy meal choices.
So what can you do to retain that pre-baby glow your skin had? Try new foods that are enriched with vitamins and nutrients. Nutritious meals can be easily prepared ahead of time when baby is sleeping or when you slip away to enjoy some kitchen time.
Great Foods For Glowing Skin
- We’ve all heard how great fish is, but do we know how? Salmon is filled with omega-3 fatty acids that keep your skin oil levels in check helping to reduce breakouts and add glow to your skin. WebMD also points out that omega-3s can boost heart health and lower triglycerides—those nasty fats.
- Are you nuts about nuts? We sure are. Nuts like walnuts and pistachios are a great way of lubricating the skin from the inside, out. Walnuts especially nourish and moisturize the skin protecting against dryness. Another skin hydrator? Avocados! Who knew those mushy green fruits could be so filled with natural oils, vitamin C, E and other anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties? All around goodness.
- Water! I know what you’re thinking: duh! Remembering to drink enough water can be hard, especially when we’re spread thin. Water hydrates your vessels, especially under your eyes so those dark circles will be less prominent with each drink from your water bottle.
Mix those ingredients into a quick salad or a sandwich and you’re good to go! Having cooked ingredients prepared beforehand can save a lot of time when it comes to actual preparation. If you are used to having your baby near you, consider putting her in a bouncer or a high chair nearby so she can learn from your speedy cooking ways.
The Science Behind the Development of Baby’s Personality
Remember growing up with your sibling or a close family member and slowly learning that you both have absolutely opposite personalities; social groups come along and you find yourself shying away while your older brother is the star of the show? Genetics doesn’t necessarily trump where you grew up, but your environment doesn’t defeat genetics either. This gentle push and pull between nature and nurture has been a long standing debate in the developmental world and is studied to this day.
Twin studies, as first researched by Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, found similarities and dissimilarities that helped grasp a better idea of the differences between genetic and environmental factors. A study on genetics and the environment found that similar characteristics among identical twins reared apart might indicate that their genes played a major role in developing that trait. Different characteristics might indicate the opposite—that environmental influences assume a much stronger role.
All in all, what does this have to do with your baby? Although your baby’s personality is formed by an unpredictable mixture outside of the womb, certain factors lead to its personality while still in the womb! An expert panelist on early year’s play and child development on BabyCentre UK, Dorothy Einon, stated that the way your newborn behaves may be influenced by lots of temporary factors. Such factors include pregnancy hormones, your own health and diet, the length of your labor, the difficulty of birth, whether your baby was born early, and how quickly your baby’s brain matures.
Hot Headed Baby
Einon also finds that a baby’s temperament can be based on what is going on inside or around him/her: how regularly baby sleeps and feeds, how vigorously he moves, how easily he’s soothed or distracted, and how readily he accepts new food or people. Keeping your newborn close to you in a nursery center and entertained in bouncers as they get older might help them have a better temperament as they age.
All In The Timing
Now that you know that a baby’s personality starts to develop in the womb based on genetics, and the process of growth in utero, when exactly will you see these personality traits start to develop? Parenting magazine suggests that some traits are obvious almost from birth; others will become apparent by three or four months. And some may evolve in intensity. For instance, [your baby’s] low frustration level may improve as he/she gains confidence in their abilities, or their desire for activity may subside a bit as his/her attention span grows. Even the most challenging traits can become less problematic as a child learns to cope with life’s ups and downs and figures out what makes him/her happy — in conjunction with your support and guidance, of course.
It’s Universally Basic
A famous developmental psychologist, Erik Erikson, found through his studies that development is based on the epigenetic principle. This principle states that development occurs in a series of stages for everyone and that these stages happen in a predetermined sequence.
In layman’s terms, personality is largely shaped by an infant’s experiences and temperament is a key determinant to the way parents react to the infant’s behavior.
A happy, healthy, bubbly, bouncy baby is the product of much tender love and care. Instead of stressing about having a perfect environment, just be your happy self and your baby too will shine back with a smile.
Aiding the Growth of a Premature Child
Life is organized into several steps of development. Although gradual, experience has taught us human beings that life is more disorganized than not. Even a doctors’ educated guess as to the due date of a baby can be at fault when baby comes sooner than expected. Premature babies can grow up to be just a healthy as full-term babies but need a little more help playing catch up.
Erik Erikson, a popular child development researcher has done a plethora of research about developmental stages. He has two basic philosophies, one of which is:
The world gets bigger as we go along
To help babies continuously and happily grow in this big world, it’s in good nature for parents to have a basic understanding of what sets premature babies apart from their punctual peers.
According to babyfirst.com, a premature baby often has less muscle bulk and is usually “hypotonic”. This means her muscles are loose and floppy. It will often be hard for her to stay in a flexed position. Instead, she may end up with a more “frog-like” posture. Her trunk may look flat when she’s lying down, rather than rounded. With that in mind, careful attention should be paid to the development of the nervous system and such motor skills as smiling, sitting, walking, and positioning the muscles should be applauded.
The development of motor skills should not be a standalone achievement. Look for and aid speech and behavioral development consequently by creating an enriching environment. Comfortable “toys” like a bounce chair or a high chair will aid with muscle development and brain development.
Bounce chairs with amenities like hanging toys, mirrors, and even embedded speakers for music will grow your baby’s curiosity to aid them in our ever expanding world.
These may be signs your baby is ready to interact:
- Quiet, alert state. Eyes are opened and focused.
- Relaxed; not too stiff or limp.
- Arms and legs are tucked in. Hands are at mouth.
- Some smiling (by about six weeks corrected age), and eventually cooing.
These signs say “time out”; your baby needs a break:
- Looking away, glassy-eyed, stressed look
- Limp body
- Stiffening (pushing body out straight)
- Yawning, falling asleep
- Hiccups, spitting up
Lastly, as mentioned in a post about infant massage, the simple power of touch will not only be a great way to bond with your baby but will be a soothing experience where they are able to look around and make contact with other people and things around them.
The aforementioned is just a tip of the iceberg as to how your preemie may need extra information. Be sure to contact your baby’s pediatrician for appropriate developmental needs and use informative tools for education. The following links provide some great information about preemies:
Bonding with Baby Through the Power of Infant Massage
Prep Time: Massage Time: Relaxed In:
5-10 minutes 20-30 Minutes 25-40 Minutes
1 Baby 1/8 Cup of olive oil or grapeseed oil (optional)
1 Parent 1 Comfortable mat, blanket, playpen or bounce chair
2 Clean Hands
Babies are just as attuned to their senses as adults are, if not more so. They see the world through their eyes and communicate with their sounds and movements. Parents should be aware that babies, although vulnerable, are in control of their emotions and feelings and are able to relay them to mom or dad. Infant massages are one of the best ways to learn how to communicate with your baby while enriching your already strong bond.
1. Create an Appropriate Atmosphere
Ensure that you set aside some time daily or weekly for you and your baby to participate in an infant massage. In fact, babies thrive on routines. It gives them a structure to rely on making them feel safe and nurtured. Imagine a day filled with randomness and things off schedule. Pure chaos!
Working with your baby should be a relaxing and comforting moment for both parties. Before you start your infant massage, create an enriching yet calming atmosphere free of noise and bright lights. Set the room or ensure that you and your baby are at a comfortable temperature that is not bothersome to either of you. A deluxe nursery center, like the Chrissy, from BabyTrend includes a bassinet that provides the perfect place to give a comforting massage to your little one.
2. Make Sure Baby Wants A Massage
Place your baby on a comfortable mat on the floor, on a bed, or on a changing table in a comfortable position. Asking your baby for permission before you start the infant massage is a key step to your bonding experience. Make eye contact with baby and verbally ask to let your baby know that he is in control of the situation.
3. Start Your Massage
Position yourself within viewing range of your baby. About 8-12 inches is the right distance for your baby to visibly see you. If you want to reduce friction between your skin and your baby’s skin, consider using olive oil or grapeseed oil. Start at the feet and work your way up baby’s body. Some common massage techniques include the following:
Arms and Legs
Milking: Hold your baby’s right foot with your right hand and roll your baby’s leg from thigh to ankle as if you were milking a cow. Massage your baby’s leg with a very gentle twist.
Butter Churner: Hold your baby’s leg and roll their leg from knee to ankle as if you were churning butter. Shake your baby’s leg gently at the end of this motion.
Back and Tummy
Bottoms Up!: Place your hands on your baby’s chest and work outwards in the shape of a heart towards your baby’s shoulder. Start at the bottom of the chest and work up. Then, gently flip your baby over and slowly open up your palms as you sweep your hands across your baby’s back towards your baby’s sides and shoulders.
Note: There are times when infant massage is probably not best to engage in. These include times when your baby is ill, has recently had an immunization, or has just eaten.
These are just a few moves you can use during an infant massage. Look into the following resources to help thoroughly educate you, take classes on infant massages, or even become a certified infant masseuse.