Although those rolls of baby fat are adorable and squeezable, even young babies need to build muscle. You don't need to take baby to the gym, but you do need to make sure she has ample opportunity to pump up those baby arms and start developing the muscles she needs to push herself up and eventually crawl and pull to a standing position.
Your pediatrician has probably explained to you how important it is for baby to have tummy time. It helps baby strengthen his neck and back muscles, but also his arm muscles. When he's on his tummy, he learns to push up on those little arms to better see the world. Starting from birth, place baby on his belly at least two to three times a day, recommends the American Academy of Pediatrics. Don't worry; you won't have to hear your baby protest for too long – three to five minutes of tummy time per session is good enough. As baby gets older, increase the length of each tummy time session.
Tease With Toys
Let's face it, tummy time can get boring – so stimulate baby with books and toys. She'll want to push up on those arms and get a better view of her surroundings, especially those colorful toys and pictures in the books. Place a few favorite toys and books just out of her reach to encourage her to reach out, stretch those arms and strengthen those muscles as she pushes up and reaches out to get what she wants.
Work It Baby
Try working baby's arms with a few simple exercises that he'll enjoy. Place your finger in baby's hands and let him practice his grip. He'll strengthen hand and arm muscles as he holds onto your fingers – try moving your hands around so that he learns to hold on and follow. You can also hold baby's little hands and gently move arms up, down and across baby's chest.
Dance Baby Dance
Even little babies love a good tune, and can't help but get moving. Turn on your favorite music that makes you want to dance, start clapping your hands and shimmying with baby. Let baby sit or lie down, and try putting a rattle in her hand. Let her shake it and move her arms to the music – she'll strengthen arm muscles and improve her coordination, too.
When your baby can sit up, even with support, help him practice getting into a standing position. Hold onto baby's hands and gently pull baby from a seated into a standing position. You can count or say "up we go!" or something that will bring a smile to his face. He'll think it's a fun game, but he's also beefing up those baby muscles.