By Venetia Moore
While there are no hard and fast gender roles with regard to parenting, it’s fair to say that mothers and fathers display tendencies towards different approaches. Research shows that men can nurture as well as women can; good parenting is down to practice. However, men and women tend to favour different ways of interacting with their babies. For example, men tend to enjoy being more physical and energetic, playing noisy rough and tumble games. Women tend to deal more with the baby’s emotional needs, for example having quiet times and being the primary feeder and nurturer. Because baby yoga is a physical and energetic way of interacting with your baby, it is a great way for dads to bond with their new child.
What is baby yoga?
Baby yoga is a form of play and interaction that’s about having fun together. It consists of gentle stretching, swings, and movements in all directions. The exercises are often combined with a simple song or two. This makes it a really fun time to spend with your baby; babies love these exercises and songs—and they don’t mind how you sound, really! If you have other children they often love to join in singing and copying actions. Mum can then get a break and everyone’s happy.
Baby yoga for development and relaxation
Apart from providing an opportunity to get to know each other better, baby yoga also helps your baby’s natural development as many of the movements help stimulate the whole brain. It can release built-up tension, strengthen muscles, and help your baby to unwind and relax more. Some movements are particularly good for easing fretfulness and discomfort associated with baby colic, helping to alleviate symptoms like trapped wind, constipation, bloating, and a tight and painful abdomen.
Baby yoga for having fun and bonding
In the early days, mum and baby become extremely preoccupied with getting acquainted. Feeling the dynamics of your relationship and lifestyle shifting and changing, you may be wondering just how you now fit in. You could also be finding it difficult to bond with your newborn baby. Cultural and media expectations can lead us to believe that if we don’t have the perfect relationship, home life, and birth, and fall instantly in love with our babies from day one, we’re somehow a failure. But it’s time to be real: life is a mixture of challenges and joys and if you’re feeling an array of thoughts and emotions at this time, it’s normal.
By doing a few daily baby yoga exercises you’ll start to strengthen that unique and important relationship between you both. The Berkeley studies from the University of California show that when there’s positive touch and interaction with your baby, a ‘feel good’ hormone, called oxytocin, is released into the bloodstream. This is a bonding hormone, so the more time you spend with each other the more strongly you’ll connect, and before long, your baby will have won your heart over.
Benefits of baby yoga
- It strengthens bonding between you and your baby.
- It helps to build your confidence in handling and understanding your baby.
- It feels good for you both; you have quality fun time together.
- It stimulates the whole brain’s development.
- It improves the general functioning of the immune system.
- It improves the quality of your baby’s sleep.
- It helps to release the relaxing hormone oxytocin in you and your baby.
Because baby yoga is usually combined with simple songs, your baby starts to build a positive response to the tunes, which can come in handy on fraught shopping trips or outings! Many parents have found they could lift their crying baby’s spirits by simply singing one of the baby yoga songs. Recent brain research shows that infants who are talked to and sung to can develop greater phonemic awareness, listening skills, and vocabularies.
In my book Surviving Baby Colic you’ll find some baby yoga illustrations with some song suggestions. There are also some baby massage illustrations and techniques to try: massage is very helpful for bonding and can be relaxing for both of you. Joining a baby yoga class is another great way to learn exercises and songs, to meet other parents, and for your baby to make some baby friends.
However busy life gets it’s worth ensuring you have quality time with your little one. Baby yoga is simple and fun, costs nothing, and will surely make you and your baby smile!
About the author
Having experienced baby colic first-hand with her own children, Venetia Moore understands the many ups and downs of it all. Her experiences steered her, 24 years ago, to become a complementary health practitioner, and she now runs adult and baby clinics. To combine her personal and professional knowledge to help others, she has recently released the book Surviving Baby Colic. Feeling strongly that parents need empowering information and support at this time, as ‘The Baby Colic Coach’ she now offers a new online service to help to do just that.