Baby Yoga Promotes Healthy Development and Bonding
As a parent, your main priority is to keep your child happy and healthy. But you may need a chance to relax, too. Baby yoga is a healthy, engaging way for caregivers to bond with their newborns, tune into their cues and destress. Babies are “natural yogis;” you may have noticed your infant doing yoga poses already.
“Baby yoga is all about bonding with your infant through stretches, lots of tummy time and high-energy activities to help with the baby’s developmental path,” says Patti Ideran, OTR/L, CEIM, a pediatric occupational therapist at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, who is also a certified educator of infant massage and a certified instructor of baby and toddler yoga. “I really look at this class as preventive medicine.”
It is well understood that yoga is a great way for adults to destress, but babies also benefit from participating.
- Yoga strengthens the bond between caregiver and child. Parents learn more enaging ways to have fun with their child and how to observe their child’s fatigue and hunger cues. Play is a big part of it. “Sometimes it’s hard to tell who is enjoying class more, the babies or the parents,” says class participant Susan Korver. Yoga provides parents and babies with undivided attention to help with parental attachment and bonding — no distracting phones, errands, television or siblings.
- Yoga poses support your child’s developmental path, including head growth. “In this day and age, babies are not on their tummies a lot, so we’re seeing developmental delays and problems with their head shapes,” says Ideran. “Yoga is an antidote to what we call ‘container babies,’ or babies who spend much of their time in strollers, car seats or bouncy chairs. Babies should spend one hour on their stomachs per day."
- Yoga is an opportunity to monitor for developmental delays and other issues, such as colic, or sleeping or feeding problems. Certified yoga instructors at Northwestern Medicine are well-versed in identifying and treating these issues, and can help teach babies how to self-soothe and parents how to bring these practices home.
- Yoga gives you a community. New parents can feel isolated. Yoga class gives them a place to meet other parents and swap notes on raising their babies.
Learn to Relax
Among already jam-packed schedules, it might be hard to imagine making time for an extra activity. But, the benefits for both child and caregiver make these classes well worth adding to the calender. Everyone needs time to relax and destress, and these classes are a great opportunity to do so while benefiting the health of your baby.
“I love the relaxation part at the end of class,” says Ideran, “because moms and dads rarely get relaxation time — even if it’s only for five minutes.”