When you hear the term “muscle tone”, what do you think about? You might imagine yourself finally having the time to go to the gym, or even picture a high-performance athlete working on getting the muscle tone just about right. But do you ever think about your baby when hearing this?
Muscle tone is one of the major factors influencing your baby’s physical development. From day one, your little one’s muscular tone is an important subject. Most babies come into the world with a good muscle tone that allows them to move. Even at such an early stage, we can observe wiggling and squirming movements of their arms and legs.
This amazing event happens because your baby has more than 600 muscles in his tiny body, which will grow stronger and stronger each day, improving his movement and coordination. This will determine the accomplishment of some your baby’s major milestones, like head control, sitting, standing up, walking, and running.
How will these muscles grow to be stronger? It may seem a natural and easy task but think about your own muscular tone, do you just gain it magically or is there something you do?
Even though your baby will gain muscular tone through a natural process, it can also be influenced by his environment, which means there’s something you can do to help him become stronger. Here are some tips to help your baby develop muscular tone:
- Exercise. Play with your son every day. You can gesture and make him smile and then move a few inches away. He will stretch arms and legs to try and touch you. As small as this movement may seem, it is helping him strengthen some of his muscles. You can also move toys away from him to help him practice his head movement, working directly with his neck muscles.
- Movement experiences. When you move your baby, you are stimulating the balance sense in the inner ear, which will also contribute to gaining muscular tone and, in general, help develop to all movement processes. Carry your baby and move slowly while you sing or dance, or even stretch his arms and legs to simulate dancing. Moving his limbs and joints is great for muscular tone as well!
- Tummy time. Place your little one on his tummy. While being in this position he’ll have to push up, turn his neck, and move around a bit to explore his surroundings, which contributes to muscle strength. If he doesn’t like this position, make the tummy time periods shorter or place a mirror in front of him so he has something to focus on; that also encourages him to lift his head.
- Massage. This will help to strengthen his bones, muscles, and immune system. You can also gently roll your hands over your baby’s body to stimulate his muscles. Read more about baby massages here.
Most of all, have fun! Even activities that are not usually your baby’s favorite, will fly by when having fun. Include games and toys, smile, and make him feel you’re close. It will work as a charm!
More on muscular development: Your baby’s first movements and coordination