Little baby laying on the bed, covered with blanket with its head up, preparing to do some baby exercises

Top 5 Baby Exercises: Building Strength and Motor Skills

Baby exercises are equally important as exercises for adults. During the first few months of the baby’s life, they will need to do some light exercise to achieve milestones. These are usually things like head control, reaching things with hands, sitting up, crawling, standing, and eventually walking. Activities such as these also help in reducing fussiness, encourage better sleep, and keep the baby happy.

But, how can you help your baby reach strength and movement goals in their first year? Here are our top 5 baby exercises that will help your little one build strength and motor skills.

#1 Tummy Time Baby Exercises

Even though many parents know what tummy time is, they may be unaware of its importance.  It strengthens the neck, shoulders, arms, and back muscles which are necessary for several milestones such as:

  • Holding the head
  • Pushing up 
  • Reaching and rolling over
  • Sitting up
  • Crawling

If you are wondering how to give your baby a tummy time, here are a few tips. Make sure the baby is fully awake and alert when you place them on their tummy so that you can closely watch them. When putting the baby on the tummy let it be on a soft, flat surface like a blanket on the bed, mat, or even a soft floor. Activate the baby’s curiosity so that they will look around and raise their head.  


Face them at eye level and speak, sing,  read to them, or make silly faces at them.  You can even show them some pictures from the book or show them toys to encourage them to look up.  As the baby ages, arrange toys in a circle around him/her to encourage movement and reaching. 

Tummy time should last around 3 to 5 minutes, two or three times a day. That’s a total of around 15 minutes each day. Increase the tummy time as the baby get older. By the baby’s fourth month, the little one should spend from 30 minutes to up to an hour on their tummy per day. We recommend always listen to the advice of your pediatrician. If he/she says differently, it’s good to accept their advice. 

#2 Baby Yoga

Baby exercises such as yoga can be very beneficial. There are yoga poses that can relieve constipation, gas, and colic, and also improve a baby’s sleep. One of the most popular baby yoga poses is called Happy Baby


Your baby may already be doing this pose without realizing it. Place your baby on its back and put its legs in the air. Then have the baby sway back and forth while holding their feet. Your baby might not grab its feet which is fine. You, as a parent, are there to help alongside this exercise. Ensure that the knees are bent and open wide while holding their feet, to facilitate the stretch for them. Exercises such as this are excellent for stimulating digestion and opening hip muscles in babies. 

Another great baby yoga exercise is the popular baby butterfly twist. Start this exercise by laying the baby on their back, then moving their feet so that their soles are touching and forming a butterfly shape in the air. Encourage the baby’s arms to open to the sides while gently pressing the baby’s feet toward the stomach. Holding your kid’s feet in the butterfly position, slowly rotate their legs from side to side.

If the baby is still moving their arms, try to calm them down by resting your other hand gently on their chest and speaking in a soothing voice. Poses like these that sway the infant back and forth can aid in the baby’s relaxation and promote deeper sleep.

#3 Baby Leg Cycling

Baby leg cycling is one of the best exercises for gas relief. However, this activity is also a great option for building strength in a baby’s leg, hip, and abs.

Place your baby on their back. Take their little legs and gently circle them around, nearly as though they were cycling. Make 3 to 5 circles,  extend its legs all the way and then push the legs towards the belly. While doing this engage with your little one. Talk, sing, make faces, or whatever your baby prefers. Keep going as long as the infant is grinning, kicking, and looking at you. When they no longer appear interested in the exercise, stop.


#4 Peanut Ball Exercises

Tummy time is very popular, however, not all kids prefer it. Do not worry, we have an alternative. A peanut ball is a pillow that many pregnant ladies use. And it can be very helpful for babies as well. Hold your baby on top of the peanut ball while its belly is facing the pillow. Gently start rolling your muffin backward and forward while supporting them with your hands. Babies will find this healthy activity very interesting and will make them exercise their necks by lifting their head and holding it.

#5 Baby Sit-Ups Baby Exercises

This exercise can be done for babies around 6 weeks or older. The parent will assist the baby to pull in and out of the sit-ups, but their body will still do plenty of work. You will feel like you are helping your baby to learn how to walk! It’s not like that since your baby is still very young, but overall it will be beneficial for your baby later in its life as well.

Baby’s ab muscles are strengthened with sit-ups. Because babies prefer to maintain their heads in alignment with the rest of their bodies, they also aid in developing neck muscles.

Let’s see how to help your baby do sit-ups. Place your little one their back with their legs between yours. Hold their forearms and wrists gently, but if your baby is still not firm on holding its head on its own, place your arms behind its head and shoulders. Give them some resistance as you lift them into a sitting position.

Initially, you might just be able to lift them an inch or two, but as they gain strength, you’ll be able to lift them into a full sit. After that, switch where your hands are so that one remains on the infant’s wrist and forearm while the other is placed behind their head. Make sure their head doesn’t hit the ground when you lower them. As your baby gets older, make these exercises a bit more complex.  Firstly, try to put them in a sitting position, and as they concur, exercise the standing position.

In Conclusion

Each little thing your baby do since the first day is a little milestone. The parent’s instinct is to help the baby reach that milestone in an easy, fun, and exciting way. Thus, baby exercises for building strength and motor skills might be the most fun of them all. 

Whether your baby likes tummy time or tummy time with the peanut ball, or doing some baby yoga these activities will be beneficial for their proper health development. 

Do not forget to be gentle at all times and always consult your pediatrician before you decide to do any of these exercises. 


  • Petra Moskatelo

    Petra is the main editor and writer here at Footmeter. She is passionate about helping people find the right solution. She holds a university Master's degree in pedagogy, and she knows a lot about children and learning.