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Snowflakes flying through the air and sub-zero temperatures usually make exercising with a baby challenging. As we trudge through another Wisconsin winter, however, there are still many ways to continue working out indoors. By making small adjustments, many lower body strength exercises can be turned into fun activities for your baby while still giving you a challenging work out.

Before starting these exercises, some things to keep in mind: 

  • To effectively strengthen the targeted muscles, complete 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions of each exercise.
  • For best results, complete these exercises 2 to 3 times per week.
  • Any exercise that causes pain should be stopped immediately.
  • Most importantly, make sure your baby has proper head control prior to attempting this routine. 

Baby Bridges

This exercise turns a fantastic glute exercise into a fun activity.

Step 1: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet resting on the floor. Hold your baby’s hands and let him sit on your stomach.

Step 2: Engage your stomach muscles and slowly lift your butt off the ground as high as you can. Make sure to stabilize your child with both hands as you perform.

Step 3: Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds and then slowly lower back down to the ground. Singing “London Bridge” is optional!

Clamshell Peek-a-boos

Play peek-a-boo with your baby while you strengthen several important muscles in the hip and buttocks.

Step 1: Lie on your side with your knees bent and your legs stacked on top of each other. Place your baby on the floor next to you looking at your knees. Behind your legs, put a favorite stuffed animal temporarily out of view.

Step 2: Without allowing your trunk to roll backwards, lift your top knee as high as you can while keeping your feet together. As you do this, yell “peek-a-boo” as the toy becomes visible to your child.

Step 3: Hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds and then slowly bring the knees together again. When you have completed a set, repeat on the opposite side.

Lunge Rotations

This exercise provides a great challenge to the thigh muscles while turning your baby into a smiling, wiggly medicine ball.

Step 1: Holding your baby facing you at chest level, take a large step forward with the right foot.

Step 2: Slowly bend your back leg as though you are trying to lower the left knee to the ground. Your front knee will also bend, but should not move forward beyond the end of your foot.

Step 3: After lowering your back knee half way to the floor, extend your arms and then rotate your baby to the right while maintaining the lunge.

Step 4: Hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds. Then, rotate back to the middle before bringing your baby to your chest again. Repeat the exercise by bringing the left foot forward and rotating to that direction.

Piggyback Heel Raises

This is an excellent way to strengthen your calf muscles that is sure to keep your son or daughter entertained as well!

Step 1: Place your baby on your shoulders while holding their hands in your own.

Step 2: Slowly raise your heels off the ground and go up on your tip toes. Try to focus on rolling through your second and third toes as you complete this motion.

Step 3: Stay on your toes for 1 to 2 seconds and then slowly lower your heels back to the floor.

Wall Slides

Use your baby to make this squatting exercise more challenging and to strengthen your quadriceps muscles.

Step 1: Hold your baby against your body facing outwards. Lean against a door or a smooth wall with your feet 12 to 16 inches in front of you and shoulder width apart.

Step 2: Slowly slide your buttocks and back down the wall until your knees are bent at a 45 to 60 degree angle. Make sure your knees stay in alignment over your feet and do not move forward over your toes.

Step 3: Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds and then slide back up to the starting position. Spaceship noises are strongly encouraged!

Tim Petrie is a sports medicine physical therapist and part-time stay-at-home dad of two.

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