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How I used personal training to help my infant son roll, crawl and walk faster, Part One

By Charles Moffat, Toronto Personal Trainer.

Okay so my infant son Richard is roughly 3 months and 2 weeks old, and he is already rolling over from his back to his belly, and vice versa. He did his first complete roll yesterday and did several more today.

Now to be clear, being able to roll over by himself is a huge stepping stone for a baby. The normal ages for rolling over, sitting up, crawling, standing up, and walking are as follows:
Rolling Over - 4 to 6 Months
Sitting Up - 4 to 8 Months
Crawling - 7 to 10 Months
Standing Up - 9 to 12 Months
Walking - 9 to 15 Months
Call me impatient if you wish, but I have become determined to help my son reach the various milestones slightly faster than other babies. (For context he said "Daddy" back on August 31st, when he was just 2 months and 1 week old - and he was 2 weeks early popping out of his momma, so clearly he is also impatient to do everything in a hurry.)

Every day I get my son exercising. But the exercises he does differ from what most parents normally do.

#1. Tummy Time

Usually such exercising is referred to as "Tummy Time", which is included in what he does. Tummy Time is typically laying the baby on his or her tummy so they can practice lifting their head up.

Tummy Time is important for building neck and upper back muscles, in addition to arm muscles, leg muscles, abdominal muscles - all muscles your baby needs to start building.

Tummy Time is an exercise that all babies should be doing, every day. So it is strongly recommended parents take the time to have their babies do 10 to 30 minutes of Tummy Time per day.

#2. Assisted Rolling

In addition to Tummy Time I also help my son to roll over - to the point that he can now roll over onto his side - and from his side to his belly - all by himself.

We accomplished this by doing the following:
  • Assisted rolling by helping him move his arms and legs into the correct positions for rolling over and then helping him push himself onto his side, and eventually on to his belly.
  • Laying him on his side so he can practice rolling on to his back or towards his belly, unassited
Now that he can roll himself under his own power he is less vulnerable to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). A common cause of SIDS is a baby suffocating on something because they were unable to roll away from the object they were suffocating on. Even being able to perform a half-roll on to their side could end up saving their life.

#3. Assisted Sitting Up and Assisted Sit Ups

This I accomplish by placing him in a sitting position and supporting his back and chest with one hand. As he gets better at it however I have started removing the hand supporting his chest, and even switching to having both hands holding his wrists instead of his torso - this way he still gets support if he needs it, for safety reasons, but otherwise is practicing holding himself upright in a sitting position.

I find you have to kind of steer him using his wrists and arms because his lack of balance will cause him to leave forward or to the sides more often.

The second part of this is holding his hands and helping him to perform a basic Sit Up. He starts from a laying position, holding his wrists I help him into a sitting position - maintain that sitting position - and then help lower him back down into a laying position. I repeat the Sit Ups 10 times before giving him a break.

#4. Assisted Standing

Using my hands under his armpits to support him, I lift my son into a standing position. I then reduce the amount of pressure I am using to support him, forcing him to exercise his leg muscles in order to maintain standing.

Doing this exercise every day, I find it allows my son to build stronger legs so that he is now able to stand for longer periods with very minimal support (mostly for balance and safety purposes) from myself.

Sometimes I will also help him by supporting his hands instead of his arm pits, so he is more under his own power.

#5. Assisted Squats

Since his legs are getting stronger every day, I have also started helping him to do squats. Squats builds his leg muscles even faster than standing does. The method is similar to the assisted standing above, but I reduce the amount of pressure I use to support him so that he is forced to either stand on his own or is reduced to a squatting position and then he has to use his own power to stand back up again.

He hasn't reached the point like the baby below has with the squatting and lifting weights, but nevertheless.



 Your End Goals

The ultimate goal of all of these exercises is to improve the survivability and strength of your baby.

If your baby can roll over by themselves that is a very important step, but being able to sit up independently, crawl away from danger, or even stand and walk away from danger - those seem like important skills to me.

As my son gets older I will also be making sure he learns how to swim and a variety of other useful skills.

Doing all of this in a supervised manner is safer in my opinion.

Doing the things mentioned above may seem like "no brainers" to some people, but I am also applying personal training concepts to his exercises, things like:
  1. Repetition - He does every exercise 10 times or more, or for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Exercising Daily - He exercises every day, even when Papa is tired or busy we still make time to do the exercises.
  3. Do Every Exercise - We don't skip any exercises. 10+ minutes of Tummy Time, 10 Rolls, 10 Minutes of Sitting, 10 Sit Ups, 10 Minutes Standing, 10 Squats. Total time - About 35-45 minutes.
  4. Break Times - So he doesn't get exhausted.
  5. No Exercising on a Full Tummy - Want to see the baby spit up? No? Then wait at least 30 minutes after feeding before doing any exercises.
  6. Nap times are also good, not just for baby, but for everyone.

As your child grows they are going to be exercising constantly. Remember to hydrate and feed them regularly. Sleep. Nap. Rest breaks.

Avoid too much TV, computers and cellphones. If it feels like they are watching screen too often, it is time to go outside.

Remember to have fun outdoors!

Don't Expect This To Happen

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