TL;DR: Babywearing workouts can be a win-win for busy mums and cuddly babies. But be mindful of safety for mum and baby. Video below.
You’re a busy mum with a baby. You’d love to shift your ‘mum tum’, but with so much going on it seems you’ll never find time to hit the gym. Meanwhile, your baby doesn’t like being set down while you exercise, and you can’t find a babysitter.
Enter the babywearing workout. You can burn calories, tone muscles and bond with baby all in the comfort of your own home.
But before you start, make sure that you have a reliable baby carrier, and you read the tips below to make sure both you and baby are safe while you work up a sweat.
Basic Rules for Keeping Baby Safe
Buy a solid baby carrier suitable for a bit of activity. We recommend the following brands:
- Baby K’tan
- Baby Tula*
- Lenny Lamb
- Sakura Bloom
We recommend carriers that keep the baby in a front carry position with the baby facing towards you. This is particularly true for younger babies. Older babies who can sit unsupported can be worn on your back. However, we’d stay away from forward facing, hip wearing and rigid back carriers for babies of all ages when doing these workouts. They just aren’t as good for your posture or for your baby’s either.
* Our friends at BabyCentral HK stock Baby Tula, Ergobaby and LILLEbaby, and offer lightning fast one day delivery if you are based in Hong Kong. We also carry a limited range of BabyCentral products at our gym if you would like to stop by.
The way you wear your baby is just as important as the carrier that you put her in. Baby Sling Safety, a UK organisation, has published a useful set of guidelines called T.I.C.K.S. on how to wear your baby, which is comprised of these common sense rules:
- In View At All Times
- Close Enough to Kiss
- Keep Chin off the Chest
- Supported Back
If you’d like to download the original guide in full it is available here.
Finally, check your carrier for wear and tear before doing the workout. You don’t want anything to break unexpectedly!
Once you’ve sorted out your carrier, make sure that you aren’t going to do movements that could compromise baby. This means staying away from lifting weights anywhere above your baby’s head, as well as avoiding sudden twisting and swinging movements. Also, stay away from things like push ups where you are putting baby between your body and the ground.
Basic Rules for Keeping Mum Safe
Time to talk about safety for mums. This is super important, because you are wearing a heavy baby, which puts a ton of load on your body before you even add repetitive movements and weights.
Because of this, babywearing really forces your core and your pelvic floor to work hard. This means if you’ve given birth within the last three months, or if you have any symptoms of diastasis recti or pelvic floor dysfunction you need to move very cautiously. If you jump into babywearing workouts without the proper rehabilitation and technique you will impair your postpartum recovery.
If you are feeling cautious, I strongly recommend checking out the Safe Variants section of our video below (at about 10:25 minutes in) and starting with those before progressing to the advanced variants.
Whichever exercises you choose to do while babywearing, you should also bear in mind that your posture is incredibly important. Because you are carrying a load, it’s essential that you balance this across the biggest and most capable muscles and structures in your body. We’ll cover how this all works below:
Good Posture Will Save Your Body
It’s very common for your posture to break down when carrying your baby, especially when you add in the extra physical demands of an exercise routine. Why? Your body is a smart machine. When your brain is telling you to do that final rep, and the muscle groups you are targeting start to run out of juice, your body will sometimes automatically compensate and fire other muscle groups to help.
Remember the last time you were on your feet for an uncomfortably long time? Chances are you probably kicked a leg out and thrust one hip forward to take the weight off of one tired foot. That’s the kind of subconscious bodily change we’re talking about. Long term, the build up of movements like this can cause muscle imbalances, localised pain, tightness in the wrong areas and all kinds of other nastiness.
So, get your posture right when working out. Now, what does this mean? Start with your heels. Align your knees above them so that there is a straight line from your ankles to your knees. Now do the same with your hips above your knees, your shoulders above your hips and your ears above your shoulders. In other words, all these body parts should be stacked in one vertical line down your body at 90 degrees to the floor.
If you are mindful of this while performing each repetition of each exercise you will be doing a huge amount to protect your core, your back and your hips. Be especially mindful when you are tired. Two common ‘cheat’ postures to be avoided at all costs are:
Sway Back Posture
Pushing your hips forward and rib cage back is a common way of relieving strain on the core and spine. Unfortunately, it fires up the weak muscles on your lower back, and causes you to round your shoulders and neck forward like Quasimodo. Not a good look.
Another cheat is to lean forward. This is natural when the weight of the baby on your front is pulling you down. This puts too much load on your lumbar spine and generates tension in your shoulder and neck muscles as you pull them back to maintain a level gaze. Again, not a good posture.
Rest is Your Friend
It’s important not to push your body too hard, particularly if you have issues such as organ prolapse. If this is the case consider omitting exercises such as lunges and squats that might force the pelvic floor to work too hard, or check with your doctor which exercises are suitable for you. If your pelvic floor is feeling burnt out or there is pressure in the region, switch to exercises that you can do while seated. Not all babywearing workouts have to be done standing up.
- Sumo Squats (45 seconds on. 15 seconds rest)
- Tricep Dips (45 seconds on. 15 seconds rest)
- Curtsey Lunges (45 seconds on. 15 seconds rest)
- Lateral Taps (45 seconds on. 15 seconds rest)
💦I recommend doing this babywearing sequence 3 to 4 times depending how fit you are feeling!
- Birddogs (45 seconds on. 15 seconds rest)
- Glute Bridges (45 seconds on. 15 seconds rest)
- Toe Taps (45 seconds on. 15 seconds rest)
- Side Planks (45 seconds on. 15 seconds rest)
💦I recommend doing this babywearing mat sequence 3 to 4 times depending how fit you are feeling!
I’ve included some safe variations in the last third of the video. This is because everyone’s pregnancy and everyone’s postpartum recovery is different. Some of you mums will be feeling fighting fit and raring to go. Some of you mums might need a bit more time to recover your pelvic floor and core muscles. And that is okay.
The key thing is to take things at your own pace. So if sumo squats and curtsey lunges make you uncomfortable, build up with these gentler variations first!
Come Train with Me
Train smarter and safer during your pregnancy. See how I can help you with a free one hour fitness assessment.