Written by Kristen Stuppy MD. Dr. Stuppy is a practicing pediatrician in Kansas. She feels privileged to be able to help families keep their children healthy and she loves watching entire families grow! Dr Stuppy is active on Facebook and puts a more personal touch to pediatric topics on her blog.
I am surprised how often I am asked if having a baby “stand” on a parent’s lap will make them bow legged or otherwise hurt them.
Old Wives Tales are ingrained in our societies and because they are shared by people we trust, they are often never questioned.
Allowing babies to stand causing problems is one of those tales. If an adult holds a baby under the arms and supports the trunk to allow the baby to bear weight on his legs it will not harm the baby.
Many babies love this position and will bounce on your leg. It allows them to be upright and see the room around them. Supported standing can help build strong trunk muscles.
Other fun activities that build strong muscles in infants:
Tummy time: Place baby on his tummy on a flat surface that is not too soft. Never leave baby here alone, but use this as a play time. Move brightly colored or noisy objects in front of baby’s head to encourage baby to look up at it. Older siblings love to lay on the floor and play with baby this way!
Lifting gently: When baby is able to grasp your fingers with both hands from a laying position, gently lift baby’s head and back off the surface. Baby will get stronger neck muscles by lifting his head. Be careful to not make sudden jerks and to not allow baby to fall back too fast.
Kicking: Place baby on his back with things to kick near his feet. Things that make a noise or light up when kicked make kicking fun! You can also give gentle resistance to baby’s kicks with your hand to build leg muscles.
Sitting: Allow baby to sit on your lap or the floor with less and less support from you. An easy safe position is with the parent on the floor with legs in a “V” and baby at the bottom of the “V”. When fairly stable you can put pillows behind baby and supervise independent sitting.
Chest to chest: From day one babies held upright against a parent’s chest will start to lift their heads briefly. The more this is done, the stronger the neck muscles get. This is a great cuddle activity too!
What were your favorite activities to help baby grow and develop strong muscles?