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Exercise for Babies: Yoga and Swimming

By: Suzanne Elvidge BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 3 May 2010 |
 
Exercise For Babies: Yoga And Swimming

Even very young children should be as active as possible, because it helps their bodies and brains develop. Children who are active are also more likely to grow into adults who are active. Exercise also gives babies extra stimulation through sound, touch and sight, and being part of a group can help their development of social skills.

Any exercise should be done at the pace that the baby is comfortable with, and only when the baby is fit and well, and happy to keep going.

Yoga

Some people believe that baby or infant yoga helps with sleep, crying and colic. Baby yoga includes yoga movements and massage, and will relax both parent and baby, as well as helping with bonding. In baby yoga, the parent moves the baby’s arms, legs and body gently into certain yoga positions. As babies’ bones are not fully hardened, it is important not to move their legs or arms too far.

Swimming

Going to the swimming pool early will improve a child’s confidence in the water as he or she grows older. Swimming helps with bonding, because of the skin-on-skin contact between the baby and parent. Exercise in the water is good for both patent and child because it supports the weight of the body. According to the Department of Health, it’s safe to take babies swimming at any age, even before they have had their immunisations.

Start by playing with the baby in the bath, and getting him or her used to laying down and floating in the water. Once in the pool, hold the baby close with your shoulders under the water and bounce him or her up and down gently. As his or her confidence grows, play in the water, bouncing and splashing gently, and encourage the baby to reach out and move in the water by holding out toys, or throwing toys and supporting the baby, pushing him or her through the water to reach the toys. Blowing bubbles in the water will get the babies used to having water on or over their faces, and if they are happy with it, they might enjoy being ducked briefly under the water.

Baby swim nappies will help avoid any ‘accidents’, and baby swim classes or parent and baby sessions will provide instruction and support. Watch out for the baby getting too cold in the water, and make sure that some warm milk or food is available after the swim.

Other Forms of Exercise

Exercise doesn’t have to only be in structured classes – babies will get exercise by moving, stretching out for things, rolling over, sitting up and crawling. To encourage this, babies should only be strapped into seats, such as car seats and push chairs, when absolutely necessary (unless the child is sleeping). They should have the space to reach out and move around as much as possible. This will help their physical and mental development. Washable toys give babies things to pick up, throw, and pass from hand to hand, and holding toys just out of reach will encourage them to reach out.

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