As a new mom, you're busy morning till night, but that doesn't mean you can't squeeze in an effective workout. To prove it, we've put together some quick, energizing exercises that you can do at home in minutes. These simple moves work your whole body yet don't require hours of effort—plus, your baby will be front and center the whole time, so the two of you can bond while you're working out. You can do the "quickie" routines separately or together every other day. With your doctor's approval, it's fine to start doing these exercises as early as six weeks after you've given birth (probably longer if you had a Cesarean section).
Before you start your workout with baby, here are a few important tips:
Dancing provides a light cardiovascular workout that involves all the major muscle groups and improves balance and coordination. It's also sure to elevate your mood, no matter how tired and stressed you might be.
You can do this while holding your baby or with him in a front carrier that keeps him close to your body and supports his head (a carrier with straps that fit over your shoulders and around your waist is best). Just put on some music you love and dance, keeping your abs drawn in. For variety, try intervals of slow and moderately fast music to keep your heart rate elevated. (If your baby is in a carrier, be cautious when turning quickly and avoid bouncing.) Breathe deeply or sing out loud to monitor your exertion level; you should be able to speak without losing your breath.
You also can place your baby in a bouncy seat or swing and dance around him. Make your movements large and animated (reach above your head and stretch your arms out to the sides, for example) and maintain eye contact with him.
Curls strengthen your core muscles, which help support your lower back.
Lie face up on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Place your baby in a seated or reclined position on or just above your pubic bone. Hold him securely under his arms with your fingers wrapped around his torso.
Contract your abs and lift your head, neck and shoulder blades off the floor in 2 counts; lower in 3 counts. Exhale through your mouth as you curl up, drawing your abs up and in. Do 15 to 20 reps. Rest and play, then do 1 more set.
Lie face up on the floor and bring your knees toward your chest; place your baby on your shins.
Contract your abs to gently tilt your hips up off the floor as you lift your head and shoulders at the same time. Lower and repeat (this will gently rock your baby forward and back). Do 15 to 20 reps. Rest and play, then do 1 more set.
Presses strengthen the upper and middle back, shoulders, triceps and biceps.
Sit cross-legged, holding your baby in front of your chest with your elbows bent.
Straighten your arms upward without locking your elbows. Pause, then lower your baby to the starting position. Do 10 reps, rest and play, then do 2 more sets.
Lie faceup on the floor with your knees bent. Contract your abs and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold your baby securely and bring him close to your chest.
Pause, then lower your baby to the starting position. Do 10 reps, rest and play, then do 2 more sets.
Pliés tone the quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks and calves.
PLIES AND WALKING LUNGES: Place your baby in a front carrier, making sure his head is well supported. Begin with 2 minutes of baby dancing to warm up, then alternate 1 minute of baby pliés with 1 minute of walking lunges (next exercise with baby). Alternate the combination 4 times for 4 minutes. To cool down, walk for 2 minutes, then take your baby out of the carrier and stretch for 2 minutes.
BABY PLIES Stand with your feet farther than hip-width apart, turning feet out slightly. Keep your abs drawn in and bend your knees, lowering your hips and pressing your weight into the heels [shown]. Slowly straighten your legs and squeeze your buttocks to return to standing.
Lunges also tone the quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks, and calves.
Stand tall and look straight ahead. Take a large step forward with your right leg and bend both knees 90 degrees. Keep your front knee over your ankle as your back knee approaches the floor, heel lifted (shown). Push off the back leg and step your feet together. Repeat with the opposite leg.