Tara Sabo is a fit mom featured blogger, certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, wife and mother. She writes about these roles and more at www.adailydoseoffit.com, and can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.
One might call this post “how to raise a fit baby,” but that sounds so definitive and by-the-book when most parents know that raising a baby is anything but. Especially when it comes to raising a fit baby. It’s not like an infant can do drop sets or sprints. But an infant can, with some guidance, embrace a fairly fit life.
As a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and new mom to a vibrant girl of seven months—I am a huge fan of the fit life. I live it, teach my clients about it, and hope to pass it on to my daughter. But the fit life is something one can’t force on another. It can only be encouraged with guidance and by setting an example.
That, of course, is the essence of being a parent: We are tasked with the opportunity to guide by example. Therefore, it is truly possible to encourage a fit baby.
THREE WAYS TO ENCOURAGE A FIT BABY
1) Have fun with healthy foods. Don’t put Baby on a diet, but offer healthy foods to encourage Baby to choose them on their own as they grow. Breastfeed if you can, but don’t sweat it if you can’t. And when the time comes, make your own baby food—it’s so easy.
Like, five minutes for 10 servings easy. Or go the baby-led weaning route and offer fresh veggies, wholesome grains and more. Baby’s food, like yours, doesn’t have to come out of a jar or box. And if Baby doesn’t like something, don’t make them eat it. Healthy eating should not foster dread or disgust.
2) Promote active playtime. No matter how old your baby is, stimulate them with engaging activities that encourage movement. Hold and move hands and feet as baby lies in awe of you. As Baby grows, tummy time strengthens the upper body and leads to rolling, crawling and more. Bouncers help legs develop strength. Balls give little bodies something to chase. If you sit your child in a chair all day, well…they won’t need to use their muscles as much. Just remember, Baby will need a break from all the activity—and that’s perfectly fine.
3) Teach by example. Get outside and take your baby for walks in the stroller. Use a jogging stroller when Baby is old enough.
Let your baby see you working out (and eating healthy). Babies are incredibly absorbent from day one, so foster an environment that helps them absorb healthy habits from the get-go. It might take them some time to comprehend said habits, but it’ll click someday.
Throughout all of the above, remember to talk to your baby as well. He or she might not comprehend exactly what you are saying, but you can rest assured that they are working on it from the get-go. Someday they’ll get why cheese is better than cheese puffs. Or why walking is more fun than riding in a stroller, or that a bike seat is better than the couch cushion.
Question: How do you encourage your children to live a fit life?