I’ve recently received a handful of emails asking about how I find time to exercise with a baby so I figured I’d share a glimpse into what I’ve done over the past year to get back into my routine.
There’s no question that exercising with a baby is a challenge. A big challenge.
It takes more planning, thought, and strategizing than I ever imagined.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past year it’s that everything is a season and everything is phase. Babies change so much in the first year. Therefore, I’ve had to be open to change myself. Especially when it comes to my daily exercise routine.
My routine with a newborn looked different from my current routine with a 12 month old. And if I would have tried to keep my schedule rigid, based on my newborn baby, there’s a good chance I would have gotten frustrated and thrown in the towel by now.
There’s no doubt it has felt impossible at times.
But in my experience, the key to success is remaining flexible and learning to adapt when your baby has other plans. 🙂
The Newborn Stage
While a sleepy newborn makes exercise easier in many ways (nobody crawling on top of you or pulling glasses out of the cupboard), the adjustment to breastfeeding and frequent feeding schedule can present challenges of it’s own.
Establish A Routine
From the very beginning, I followed an “eat, play, sleep” routine with my daughter.
I knew I would need a routine to keep myself sane and to help me return to work. The thought of not knowing when my baby was going to sleep or eat was incredibly overwhelming to me.
A routine gave me an idea of when B would sleep, eat, and be awake. This gave me an opportunity to plan my workouts for the day.
My general parenting perspective is that taking care of myself and my marriage is the best gift I can give my daughter. That is more important to me than sacrificing everything to ensure that she never cries or wants for anything. Taking care of myself is crucial to my ability to love and care for her well.
Exercise During A Morning Nap
Why a morning nap? To avoid taking 2 showers or going all day feeling dirty and frumpy while you wait for your post-workout shower.
Most newborns nap every 45 minutes (or less). They are sleepy little people and can sleep almost anywhere. Take advantage of this!
I took advantage of her second nap of the day to get out and go for a walk/run while she slept happily in the stroller.
I used my BOB with a car seat adapter and it worked well. She was cozy and I got an extra workout boost by pushing an extra 35 lbs.
Nurse Immediately Before Exercise
Nursing is the hardest thing to work around in the beginning. There is nothing worse than attempting to run feeling engorged or full of milk.
During the first few months, B was eating every 2 hours which made it tricky to do anything. I fed her when she first woke up (around 7 am), let her play, and then put her down for her first nap.
During that first nap I had a snack and got dressed in my running clothes.
When she woke up (or when I woke her up), I nursed her, which always took about 30 minutes, and then we went out for our walk/run.
Given that she was only awake in 45-minute increments she was ready to sleep again when we finally got out the door.
Exercise During Tummy/Mat Time
The great thing about newborns is they can’t move! So it’s actually a great season for exercising at home.
Lay your little one on his/her play mat while you get down on your mat and do some exercise. Aim for 20-40 minutes and enjoy these immobile baby days. 🙂 Check out The Sisterhood for a community of women and a whole library of at-home workouts to keep you motivated and inspired.
7 months and up
Take Advantage Of Health Club Childcare
Many health clubs offer childcare. It’s usually a very small fee which affords you the luxury of joining an exercise class or having an hour to yourself at the gym. I have yet to take advantage of this but it’s a great option if you belong to a gym.
Exercise During Morning Awake Time
Remember when I talked about the importance of staying flexible?
Around 7 months B transitioned to 2 naps per day. It became increasingly important for me to have her nap in her crib to learn the value of good sleep and a regular routine.
So at that point (and to this day), stroller workouts happen during her morning awake time.
We wake up, eat, play and then head out in the stroller prior to her first nap. It’s nice to get out early and start the day on a healthy note.
I then shower and get ready for the day when she goes down for her morning nap.
Find a Mommy & Me Class
Mommy & Me classes are a great way to exercise, spend time with your baby and bond with other new moms.
Make Use of Nap Time
At 7 months you may still have the opportunity to do at-home Pilates workouts while your little one plays, but the more mobile they become, the harder it gets.
These days, unless I have B in her playpen it is impossible for me to exercise at home while she is awake.
So take advantage of nap time, early mornings and the post-bedtime hours to fit your at-home Pilates workouts in.
Think of it as self-care and “you time” rather than forced exercise and it will become a habit that you love and crave.
After reading this post, it should be pretty clear that exercising with a little one at home isn’t necessarily easy. It takes planning, preparation and flexibility. But with a little thought and strategizing it can be done.
The key is to plan ahead, give yourself grace, change with the seasons and remember that it’s a marathon not a sprint.
A 10 minute walk is better than no walk and five minutes on your mat is better than zero minutes.
Do you have tips that have worked for you? I’d love for you to share them in the comments!
PS – for more Motherhood Monday posts check out Breastfeeding & Exercise, 10 Self-Care Tips For New Moms and How I Lost The Baby Weight.
This post is a part of the Summer Motherhood Project hosted by Thoughts By Natalie.
15 thoughts on “How To Exercise With A Baby”
Thanks for this one Robin! I also have found with my 1 1/2 year old girl that being flexible and being dedicated to my husband first has been a huge bkessing for our family! Its taught my daughter soooo much even at such a young age! This is such an encouragement to know we are not alone ! Thsnks again.
Forever and always,
p.s. im glad you’re back! 🙂
That’s so great to hear Jenn! I love that and it’s encouraging to me. 🙂 xo
Hey Robin… Is B still at two naps a day?!? Just wondering when I should prepare myself for only 1 nap. **sigh** I love naptime!
Hi Kelly! Yes, she is! I intend to stay at 2 naps for as LONG as possible. 🙂 She still needs both and sleeps well at both. We had a few days where she skipped her first nap entirely but thankfully it was just a phase. I hope Leeds keeps 2 for a long time too! 🙂
Prioritizing exercise with a baby makes all the difference in the world! I started from as early on as possible with our son and did a lot of the things you did. I still do now, at 14 months and it’s definitely been one of those things that I’m glad I’ve made a part of our daily routine.
Pingback: How To Exercise With A Baby In Tow | Be Best Mom
Pingback: Thoughts on the 2nd trimester... - The Balanced Life
Pingback: Exercising With A Baby In Tow | Be Best Mom
Hi, Robin! I recently subscribed to your blog and am loving all the helpful tips. One tip I can share is that you don’t have to drop the morning nap from the schedule when your toddler no longer needs it. I have a 20 month old and a 2 week old. We intentionally keep “rest time” from 9-10am as part of my toddler’s schedule. We put him in bed with one or two toys and let him chill for 45-60 minutes max. He can sleep or play during that time. The afternoon is when he takes a really solid nap (1-3). When he is no longer in a crib we’ll call it room time. He doesn’t mind at all BC he has never known any different. He is calm, happy, healthy and rested. And my children’s schedules will be synced when the baby moves to 2 naps a day. We go on a walk and to the park after breakfast. And, like you suggested, I exercise and get ready for the day during morning rest time.
Thank you for the tip Natalie! It’s good to know how you juggle 2. That will be very helpful for me in the months to come! xoxo
What do you do if your baby only sleeps while being held? My babe is 5 weeks and will wake up immediately if I try to put her down. Typing with one hand as of right now. I NEED to exercise for my sanity as I have slight PPD and exercise has always been my outlet. My baby hates the carseat=stroller and wails the entire walk. I try to lay her in her snuggapuppy to do pilates or go on the treadmill and she cries. She despises my moby wrap because she likes to look around but it squishes her head into my chest. She cries and sweats in it. I cry while she’s in it as I am so stressed. We bed-share, co-sleep, and luckily I get good sleep this way. So that’s not the problem. I am so envious of mothers whose babies sleep separate.
Hi Heather, that sounds really hard. I’m sorry! You are doing a great job by trying to love your baby the best you can. I don’t have experience with a baby that needs to be held all of the time (yet). I’m sure some other moms who have been through it may have some good advice. I will post it on my Facebook page to get some responses for you. Come check it out: http://www.facebook.com/thebalancedlife.
Hope we get some good ideas for you! xoxo, Robin
Hi. I see this article is quite old, so I don’t know if anyone will read this comment. Anyways…
How do I find time and place to exercise with a newborn baby? I can’t leave him with anyone to go for a run/gym. I can’t take him out because of horrible weather (also I don’t consider walking to be exercise, it’s a normal human activity, it doesn’t do anything special for me). And I can’t jump and thump in the room because he wakes up easily. We only have one room. I can’t use the shared living room either because I don’t want anyone to see my fat flap around when I exercise.
Any ideea is welcome. Thanks.
Hi Bianca! Congratulations on your little one! Pilates sounds like it would be perfect for you! The movements are quiet (and you can modify any that might make extra noise), and you don’t need much space to complete a full workout – just a mat! 🙂
I am pregnant with my first baby. I learn many things about how can exercise with a baby. I will must apply this at the right time. Thanks for the sharing such a useful article.