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3 Parent & Baby Workouts that are easy, gentle, and safe

Your body and your baby are precious, so it’s important to work out safely. Before embarking on any exercise routine, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional, especially for those in the postpartum period.



Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

 

  • Listen to your body: Pay attention to how your body feels during and after each exercise. If something doesn't feel right, modify or skip that particular movement.

  • Choose the right environment: Opt for a spacious and clutter-free area to prevent accidents during your workout sessions.

  • Invest in proper equipment: Ensure you have the right gear, including a supportive baby carrier and comfortable workout attire including clothing and footwear.

 

So, how soon after birth should you wait before trying some gentle exercise? We spoke to Dr. Hana Patel, NHS GP and GP Medico-Legal Expert Witness, to find out:


“I normally advise women after giving birth, especially if they had a relatively uncomplicated vaginal delivery, that they may — after being cleared by their GP — be able to start gentle exercise as soon as they feel up to it, whether that’s walking, gentle stretches, or pelvic floor and tummy exercises. Before you are discharged from hospital, you may even get a visit from the physiotherapist, advising you and giving you a leaflet on this matter. It's usually a good idea to wait until after your 6-week postnatal check before you start any high-impact exercise, such as aerobics or running. 

 

“For women after surgery or a complicated delivery, I would recommend speaking to your GP first to discuss this further. After a caesarean section, your recovery time might be longer. 

 

“It might also depend on how much exercise you did before you were pregnant as to what you may start with. Certain types of exercise might be better if you have weak pelvic floor muscles, too, and your lower back and core abdominal muscles may be weaker than they used to be. Ligaments and joints are also more supple and flexible for a few months after birth, so there's an increased risk of injury if you stretch or twist too much. 

 

“Another piece of advice is that your bra size changes too after having a baby, as your back and cup size are likely to have changed, so I would recommend getting measured post-delivery.”

 

As for babies themselves, regular activity sessions including workouts are crucial to their development: 

 

“The NHS advises that babies under 1 year old should be encouraged to be active throughout the day, every day, in a variety of ways, including crawling. If your baby is not yet crawling, encourage them to be physically active by reaching and grasping, pulling, and pushing, moving their head, body, and limbs during daily routines, and during supervised floor play. The NHS also recommends trying to include at least 30 minutes of tummy time spread throughout the day when your baby is awake.

 

“Once babies can move around, encourage them to be as active as possible in a safe and supervised play environment.”

 

Parent & Baby Workouts

Parent/baby workouts are designed not just for physical health but also to strengthen the bond between you and your little one. According to Dr Patel:

 

“As a mum myself, I am aware that being active may seem like the last thing you want to do after having a baby, but regular activity can help you relax, keep fit, and feel energetic. Evidence shows that it can also help the body recover after childbirth and may help prevent postnatal depression. If you are interested in trying a postnatal class, some may let you do the class with your baby at your side. Some include your baby and their pram or buggy as part of the workout.”

 

However, it’s also important to exercise caution, both for the safety of your baby and yourself, and consider whether parent and baby workouts are right for you. 

 

“I would advise not to push yourself too fast or too hard in the post-natal period. It can lead to pelvic floor dysfunction, which means that you may experience symptoms such as leaking when sneezing, coughing, or laughing. 

 

“I would say that the age of the child is important too, as shaking can be dangerous for children, particularly young babies whose heads are disproportionally heavy and whose neck muscles are still not fully developed. If you are baby-wearing or wearing your baby in a sling during exercise, babies should not slump over in the sling during the class and should not fall asleep facing out.”

 

Below, the Fitness Superstore team have brought together some of the best parent and baby workouts for you to try. These exercises are gentle but also adaptable to any fitness level, ensuring a positive experience for both parent and child.

 

Baby Weight Squats

Baby weight squats are ideal workouts because they can be done anywhere, any time, and are suitable to do with newborns. Due to the closeness of your position and the gentle bouncing movement involved, your baby may even find the movement soothing. Follow these steps:  


  • Hold your baby securely against your chest.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  • Lower into a squat, keeping your back straight.

  • Push through your heels to return to the starting position.

  • Repeat for 10-15 reps.

 

Remember to do these squats in a clear area to reduce the risk of bumps and knocks from surrounding furniture. If you start to feel dizzy at any point, be sure to put your baby down somewhere safe and rest. Dr Patel has another aspect of baby squats to bear in mind: 

“Using the baby as a weight during exercise may take away your concentration on your technique and maintaining a good form, which may put pressure on your recovering pelvic floor muscles.”

 

Mummy/Daddy & Me Yoga

Exploring yoga poses together is a great way to bond with your baby while incorporating gentle stretches and movements. Here are some examples of yoga poses that can be adapted for a Mummy/Daddy & Me Yoga session — you can start doing these from about 6 months old, or when your baby starts sitting up without support:

 

Baby in the Aeroplane Pose:

  • Sit comfortably with your legs crossed.

  • Place your baby on their back and gently lift their legs, creating an "airplane" shape.

  • Hold your baby's hands for support as you gently move their legs up and down.

 

Parent-Child Seated Forward Bend:

  • Sit with your legs stretched out in front.

  • Place your baby on your legs facing you.

  • Hold your baby's hands and gently lean forward, keeping your back straight.

 

Parent-Child Tree Pose:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.

  • Hold your baby close, and together, bring one foot to rest against the inner thigh of the opposite leg.

  • Find your balance together and repeat on the other side.

 

Baby and Parent Cobra Pose:

  • Lie on your stomach with your baby in front of you.

  • Place your hands beside your shoulders and lift your chest off the ground, gazing forward.

  • Encourage your baby to lift their head and chest for a mini cobra pose.

 

Parent-Child Butterfly Pose:

  • Sit on the floor with your legs bent, so the soles of your feet touch.

  • Hold your baby facing you, with their feet touching.

  • Gently flap your knees up and down, mimicking butterfly wings.

 

Baby & Parent Bridge Pose:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent.

  • Place your baby on your pelvis, holding them securely.

  • Lift your hips towards the ceiling, creating a bridge shape.

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Focus on deep breathing and relaxation, and remember to go at a pace that is comfortable for both you and your baby. Incorporate soothing music and maintain a playful atmosphere to make the experience enjoyable for your little one. Always prioritise your baby's comfort and safety during these sessions. Dr Patel says: “A good class should respect your baby’s development and not include any kind of vigorous repetitive jumping, spinning, or shaking movements.”

 

Pushchair Power Walks

Pushchair power walks are another exercise that can be done anytime, anywhere — simply take your baby for a stroll in their pram or pushchair at a brisk pace to get your blood pumping. You could even incorporate interval training by alternating between power walking and short bursts of jogging, depending on your ability. According to Dr Patel:

 

“You may wish to push the pram or buggy at a quicker walking rate, remembering to keep your arms bent and your back straight. To try and avoid getting neck and back sprain, I would recommend looking at the handles, so they are at the right height for you — your elbows should be bent at right angles. Walking is great exercise, and I would recommend trying to get out with the baby in the fresh air as much as you can.”

 

It’s best to do this in a park or on trails away from crowds and traffic so you can avoid collisions and adjust your pace as you need to.

 

“It’s important for parents to prioritise their health while bonding with their babies, and gentle parent/baby workouts are ideal for this. By following our safety tips and fitness advice, parents can embark on a journey to a healthier, more active lifestyle.

 

“For those that have recently given birth, it's crucial to ease back into physical activity gradually. High-impact exercises may not be suitable immediately after childbirth. Focus on rebuilding core strength with exercises like pelvic tilts and kegel exercises.”


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