Help Your Baby Grow Up Healthy with Exercise
As every mother-to-be knows, babies are very active while still in the womb. Although some children are more active than others, all babies wiggle and kick while in the womb. Once they’re born, babies can actually become frustrated with their body’s limited mobility. However, there are many ways to help your baby get the exercise he wants while keeping him safe and entertained. Here are a few ways you can nurture your baby’s natural inclination for exercise.
Bouncing chairs are designed to be used from birth until your baby is able to sit up on his own. They usually have a metal or heavy-gauge plastic frame covered with a soft pad that snuggles comfortably around your baby. Bouncing chairs are springy to encourage your baby to kick and squirm. The padded seats support his body but allow him freedom of movement. Many bouncing chairs are adjustable so they can be tilted back when your baby falls asleep or tilted semi-upright when he’s awake and active. A frame to hold mobiles above his eye level encourages him to reach and use his arms.
These mini baby gyms consist of a brightly colored mat with a heavy-gauge metal or plastic frame overhead from which a variety of interesting toys dangle. You can also place other toys around the outer edge of the play mat. All of the interesting things around him encourage your baby to reach with his arms, lift his head and try to sit up.
Playpens and playards
Playpens. Once your baby reaches the crawling stage, he won’t need encouragement to move. He’ll be crawling everywhere, and if there’s trouble to be found, he’ll find it. At this stage, he’ll need a place to play that will keep him safe as he learns to move about. Playpens are designed to give your growing youngster as much freedom as possible at this stage, so he can continue to reach those important physical milestones.
Most playpens have netting for walls and heavily padded upright supports and floors. Your baby is going to want to sit up, reach for toys and crawl around. He no longer wants to just kick his legs, but wants to use them for mobility. Padded railing at the top is placed just high enough to encourage him to pull himself into a standing position. Some children will happily play in a pen until they’re three or four years old. Others find a playpen a perfect place to develop early climbing and escape skills. Your baby will let you know when he’s outgrown his pen.
Playards. Playards are usually more fully featured and can contain bassinets for younger babies to sleep in. They often come equipped with changing tables, mobiles and even music players. All this extra equipment makes the playard a bit more expensive than a playpen but since it will be a big part of your child’s early years, it’s worth the investment.
When your baby is on the verge of graduating to toddlerhood, pulling up, standing and leaning become important to him. He can’t take unassisted steps yet, but he’s eager to practice the skills that will launch him from infancy to childhood. At this stage, he’s ready for the last piece of baby exercise equipment – the walker. There are two different types of walkers to support your baby at different stages of his walking career.
- A chair set in a heavy plastic frame with four wheels aids babies who can’t stand yet. His legs dangle from a saddle seat that allows his feet to touch the floor so he can move across the floor safely.
- Older babies enjoy standing on their own and pushing a stroller-type walker. Just like mom used to push him in his stroller, he can now push his toys around as he gains the confidence he needs to start walking on his own soon.