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Your baby looks so gentle and delicate as he takes a nap, a little smile on his face. Soon, he will be up and about, demanding food, playing with you, and stretching his arms and legs. Babies are very fond of moving about as soon as they learn they can control their limbs. But very often, babies develop stiffness in their muscles after sleeping or being physically active. Their muscles are still developing and are not very strong. But what can you do about this? Surely, such a small baby cannot exercise, so is there any other way to make his muscles stronger?
The motor muscles of your baby start developing at an early age. This is the development that builds the physical strength of your baby. As parents, we strive to do everything in our power to make our babies stronger. This is why we give them a massage to enhance their blood circulation, make sure they are well-fed, and help them get relaxed by sleeping enough. But apart from this, there are some other things we need to do to promote their muscular growth and ensure that their muscles are well stretched and growing.
Here are the seven things you should start doing at home every day to help raise a strong little human being, with power in the muscles!
1. Give Your Baby Some ‘Tummy Time’
This is one of the most common recommendations given to new moms, and yet also the most effective. What is tummy time and how can you give your baby this? Well, you simply have to lay your infant on his or her stomach, while being supervised, of course. This will help the muscles of your baby’s head, neck and shoulder get enough exercise. If your baby is always on his back, or sleeps in a bed that is not suitable for infants, he might develop a flat spot on his head. Try and use a baby crib or cot that has a firm base to provide adequate support to his back muscles. And yes, make sure your child gets tummy time both with you and Daddy every day! Here are some excellent ideas you can use to give your baby tummy time and also have fun doing it.
2. Elevate The Head of Your Baby
For your baby’s head muscles tp grow properly, he needs some elevation of the head region every day. You can do this by positioning your baby in a vertical position close to your shoulder. In this pose, the baby is able to elevate his head for a small period of time. Goes without saying, it is of extreme importance to provide support to the baby while doing so. You should hold up the baby along his back to avoid a backward thrust.
3. Practise Finger Towing
This activity focuses on the muscles of the hand and the palm. Here’s what you need to do: Make your baby lie down on the bed with his back on the bed. Then put two fingers in front of him. When he holds your fingers, try to move them away gently. The more you try to move away your fingers the more he will try to hold it tightly! This a good exercise for increasing eye and hand muscle co-ordination as well.
4. Feed Your Baby These Foods for Stronger Muscles
If you have introduced solids or semi-solids to your baby, you should start incorporating in his diet some foods that help resolve low muscle tone. Some children naturally have a low muscle tone and this can hinder their motor development. You can fix this by introducing foods rich in protein, Vitamin C and D, and calcium. Some good options are: milk, broccoli, leafy veggies and eggs.
5. Do the ‘Bicycle Exercise’
This one is not just benficial for muscular strength, it is also known to keep baby’s tummy happy! You can do this exercise by laying baby on his back and holding his ankles gently. Slowly move his legs in a circular motion, like he is pedalling his bicycle. After a couple of rounds, stop, clap and praise your baby. Make sure you guys go riding this bicycle every day; it can be a whole lot of fun!
6. Tug Your Baby Up in a Sitting Position
When your baby starts learning to roll over, you know he will soon be sitting, standing and walking too! But for this, the muscles of his arms and back need to become strong. You can do this by just holding the forearms of your baby and tugging him up gradually to a sitting position. Make sure you maintain his back upright. You can use a comfortable and baby-safe pillow at this time. Then, gradually put your baby back on the ground. You can do this three to four times at one stretch. It is great for making his muscles for flexible as he slowly learns to sit up and then stand.
7. Help Your Baby With the Toe to Ear Movement
Unless your baby learns to coordinate his motor movements, his muscular growth may be slow. You can teach him to get tip to toe balance by doing this: Place the baby on his back and keep his leg in an erect position. Gently lift the right big toe towards the left ear of the baby and then bring it back to its original position. Then bring the left toe to the right ear. Repeat this exercise about four times in one go and then give your baby a break. You’ll start noticing the results soon.
Just as proper nutrition and exercise help an adult body, similarly, nutrition and exercise helps build strong muscles and enhance motor development in infants as well. These activities also give you some great quality time with your baby, helping you bond even more.
So, if your little one’s limbs are getting stiff after a long snooze, or seem a little weak, you now know just what to do to help your baby stretch and relax!