There’s no doubt about it, being a new mom is tough. Every moment of the free time you used to have is now occupied by your baby — which is totally fulfilling, but also makes it a bit hard to focus on your health and staying fit. How the heck are you supposed to exercise with a kid strapped to your hip 24 hours a day?
You use your baby as a weight. Yup, you can actually use your baby to work out — and they’ll probably even have a blast while you’re doing it.
The best part? These exercises can still be done as your baby becomes a toddler — the weight just gets to be more challenging as they grow. You can perform the following exercises as a circuit for two to three rounds.
Hold your baby close and put your feet hip-distance apart. Sit back into a squat as if you’re sitting into a chair. Keep your knees over your ankles. Power through your heels as you stand, and keep your core engaged. Do 10 to 15 repetitions.
Hold your baby close and take a large step forward. Lower yourself until both knees are bent to 90 degrees. Keep your front knee directly over your ankle and your abs tight. Aim for 10 lunges per leg.
3. Leg extension
This is a great exercise with older children. Sit in a chair and position your child over your shin and sitting on your foot. Holding onto their hands, lift your leg straight up. Do 10 repetitions per leg.
4. Glute bridge
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip-distance apart. Sit your baby on your lap. As you exhale, raise your hips and push your heels into the floor. Do 10 to 15 repetitions.
5. Shoulder press
Using your shoulders, raise your baby into the air. Keep your abs tight to protect your back. Do 10 to 12 repetitions.
There are two variations you can try. For the traditional push-up, start in a plank position with your wrists under your elbows and your abs engaged. Lower down until your elbows are bent to 90 degrees, and give your baby a kiss! Shoot for 10 to 12 push-ups.
A second variation is a triceps push-up. Start in plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart. Lower your chest to the floor while keeping your arms parallel to your sides and your elbows pointing back. You can come to your knees to make both push-ups easier.
Place your baby on the ground below you and stay in a high plank with your shoulders directly over your wrists. Check your body in a straight line. Sing a song to your baby. “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” takes about 30 seconds to sing.
From a seated position, bring your knees together. Place your baby on your lap and slowly raise your feet. Sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” to make it more fun!
Before starting a new exercise routine, always check with your healthcare provider. Take it slow with your baby and make sure that your baby is safe the entire time. Keep in mind that if you had a C-section, your body will likely need a longer time to recover.
Originally published April 2013. Updated April 2017.