This post includes an upbeat baby workout playlist, exercises to do while holding a baby, and workout moves to keep your baby entertained. Jump to these goodies now.
I remember the moment I realized I wasn’t a basketball player anymore. It was my senior year of college on a random Tuesday night. I’d just ordered my first beer at a local bar and a man asked me “What do you do?”
And I just started crying. In the bar. Into my beer.
I left. The bar. My beer. The man standing very perplexed and uncomfortable.
That was the day I signed my medical discharge papers. That was the day basketball ceased to be my job. It was also the moment when my entire relationship with exercise changed.
Goals, coaches — mandatory practice — were over. The choice to workout was completely mine. And frankly, I often choose not to during those early days. It took a long time to develop a new relationship with my body, my mental health, and my need to workout.
It’s a relationship I’m still working on. But one thing is undoubtedly clear — I’m happier when I exercise. And the days I don’t want to are the days I need it the most.
Why Postpartum Workouts Are Essential for Me
Like a lot of new moms, I’ve had to battle some hormone- and sleep deprived-induced demons. While I have a loving husband, a relatively happy baby, and an incredible family and friend support system — there were hard days. Sometimes there still are.
There are some days when working out means I get alone time. My mother-in-law has given me this treat on more than one occasion and it’s fabulous.
But for the most part, my workouts happen with Pepper. Because that’s when I can find the time. And, I think that’s a good thing.
Not only are my postpartum workouts essential for my mental well-being (hellooo endorphins) — I believe they’re important for Pepper. They let her see how an active lifestyle can be fun. They encourage her to wiggle and move. And, they’re a way for us to interact that doesn’t simply involve shaking toys.
I definitely get out of the house and push the stroller. This not only helps me get fresh air, but it can be one heck of a workout. But sometimes that’s not an option in the Seattle area, where rain often keeps us inside.
Pre-baby I did some online exercise classes, like BeachBody. These can be a fabulous solution, which felt almost like I had a personal trainer. But because I’m trying to limit Pepper’s screentime, these digital classes weren’t a good fit for me.
Rather, having a variety of exercises that work my legs, butt, upper body, and abdominal muscles lets me DIY a workout without turning on a screen. Often these workouts are as short as 20 or 30 minutes. But I like to remind myself, something is better than nothing.
Get an Upbeat Playlist Your Baby Enjoys
Pepper really responds to music. While we primarily listen to country music, I’ve curated an upbeat playlist that perks her up. It’s loaded with some country (obviously), jams from the 80s and 90s, and a few other random songs.
We use it for everything from silly dance workouts to bodyweight HIT sessions. It doesn’t have to be this one, but I’ve found that songs I love to sing along with are the ones she likes the best.
PLEASE NOTE: The following is not intended to be medical advice — for you or your child. Before attempting any physical activity, it’s strongly advised that you speak with a medical professional. This is something I did. I spoke with both my own doctor about my physical abilities and restrictions. And, I spoke with Pepper’s pediatrician about her physical capabilities and restrictions.
7 Fun Exercises to do While Holding a Baby
Not only is Pepper typically really happy to be held, she makes for an impressive weight. (She’s 19 pounds of squirm and counting!)
Heck, they don’t talk about ‘mom arms’ for no reason. Sometimes just carrying her around can be a workout.
The following are my go-to exercises to do while holding her. One thing to keep in mind is head control. At least for me, most of these moves required her to have developed full head control.
- Baby Lunges (front, side, Bulgarian, curtsy)
- Baby Hip Squats (with a narrow stance)
- Baby Sit-up Hold
- Baby Seated Ab Twists
- Baby Bench Press
- Baby Bridges
- Baby Leg Raises
12 Body Weight Exercises that Keep a Baby Entertained
Pepper loovves movement. Generally, the harder the exercise, the happier she is about being my giggly cheerleader. The following are my go-tos when we spend time working out together.
As much as possible, I try and make eye contact and talk with Pepper while doing them. Often our conversations are just me counting my reps (when I’m not singing, because hello we clearly didn’t stop the fire). Also, I look for ways to reach out and touch her.
For me, the idea has been to keep her as involved and engaged in the process as possible. Not only do I think it sets a good example for her to see me working out — it’ll make my life way easier if she’ll workout with me.
And — there’s only so much time in a day. I often can’t sacrifice a nap for a workout because I have to work. Including her makes it possible for me to maximize my time.
- Wide Rotational Squats
- Jump Squats
- Single Leg Deadlift
- Star Jumps
- Jump Lunges
- Planks (or modified planks)
- High-Knee March with Elbow Touch
- Fire Hydrant
- Donkey Kicks
- Pushups (or modified pushups, including on knees and on an incline)