Trunk-Strengthening Exercises for Infants

Baby boy in white sunny bedroom
Tummy time helps your child develop trunk strength. (Image: FamVeld/iStock/Getty Images)

Sitting up, crawling, standing and walking are all exciting milestones in your infant's life. With each new milestone, your little one is getting stronger and developing. Help him grow by including exercises in your routine that help encourage muscle strength and nervous system adaptations that lead to development. The trunk includes the muscles of the stomach and back. Exercising your infant's trunk muscles can help him ease into these exciting milestones.

Ball Exercise

Use an exercise ball to encourage trunk strength development. When your child is developed enough to sit up on her own, perform this simple exercise. Hold her as she sits on top of the exercise ball. Position your hands with your thumbs and pointer finger supporting your child on her thighs with the rest of your hands on the ball. Encourage your baby to bounce on the ball. When she looks comfortable and has her balance, slowly move the ball around in each direction to force your child to use her trunk muscles to keep her balance.

Tummy Time

Tummy time is a simple thing you can do to encourage crawling and help your infant increase his upper back, neck and stomach strength. To make the most out of tummy time, place toys around your baby so that he has to reach for them. Play with your baby in front of him so that he must lift his head and support himself with his arms. Encourage tummy time for just small increments of time, dictated by your baby. He will let you know when he is too tired or not in the mood. As he gains strength, tummy time will increase in length.

Flexion

Trunk flexion is the act of bending at the hips to sit up from a lying position. This takes trunk strength and marks a developmental milestone. To increase trunk strength, lie your baby on her back on a solid surface. Gently grab her hands in yours and lift her torso up off the floor into a sitting position. Gradually you will feel your little one using more of her muscles -- rather than your support -- to sit up. Perform this exercise only when your baby is strong enough to support her own neck.

Rotation

Rolling over takes a lot of strength. Help your little one build up the trunk muscles for this feat with a little exercise. Any time your baby is on his back -- for example, while lying in his crib -- hold each leg in your hands. Gently encourage a rolling motion over onto his side and then his tummy. As this becomes easier, teach your child to roll from his tummy onto his back.

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