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Baby and me yoga: What to expect, the benefits and more

From the stress-busting benefits of doing yoga with baby to the ways it can help infants sleep better, pros share insight on baby and me yoga.

Baby and me yoga: What to expect, the benefits and more

There’s no two ways about it: Baby and me yoga is adorable. The cooing, the rolling, the literal happy baby! But in addition to the unmatched cute factor, practicing yoga with baby is seriously beneficial for babies and caregivers alike — and it’s a gentle routine to step into as a new parent, too. 

“Baby yoga is a series of caregiver-assisted postures designed to help promote health and wellness for the growing baby, as well as strengthen the bond and connection between parent or caregiver and child,” explains Jillian Amodio, a registered yoga teacher and licensed social worker in Annapolis, Maryland. “The classes may also include caregiver poses and postures to strengthen muscles and release tension. Breathing exercises can also induce peace and calm and aid in caregiver stress reduction. When caregiver stress is reduced, this is passed on to the child as well.”

Sounds kind of like a no-brainer, right? From the benefits to what to expect, here’s what to know about baby and me yoga. 

How is baby and me yoga practiced?

“Typically, baby and me yoga is practiced with baby lying on a mat or blanket on the floor,” explains Lauren Tingley,” a 20+ year yoga and mindfulness instructor in Red Bluff, California and owner of Simply Well Balanced. (Though it can be practiced while babywearing, Amodio notes!) Often, it’s offered at yoga studios and children’s play gyms, but it can also be done at home.

“The parent or caregiver will then guide the child using gentle and soothing movements, such as stretching and postural movements,” Tingley continues. “Some standing, lifting and swaying movements are often incorporated, as are songs, rhymes and games. The practice also often includes the parent doing movement and poses.” 

At what age can you start yoga with baby?

Typically, babies can start at around 8 weeks, notes Shannon McGuire, a 500-hour registered yoga teacher and owner of Grow With Om Yoga, but it’s important to consult with your (and baby’s) care team before taking on a physical practice post-birth. McGuire adds that “as baby develops, both their practice — and mom or dad’s involvement — will evolve.”

What are the benefits of baby and me yoga?

Baby and me yoga comes with a number of physical, mental and emotional benefits for everyone. Here, McGuire, Tingley and Amodio name some of their favorites. 

1. Boosts physical and emotional development for baby

“Baby yoga provides the same physical benefits we experience as adults — flexibility, stretching, strengthening, balance and coordination,” explains McGuire. “It also helps build the neural pathways [in layman’s terms: the nerves that connect one part of the brain to the other] in baby’s brain, which has lifelong benefits.” 

“Many people think babies are too young to start practicing yoga,” McGuire continues, “but the earlier they start, the better muscle memory and strength they will have for the physical coordination they will need as they grow and start crawling, standing, walking and running.”

The eye contact and physical touch that accompanies yoga with baby, Amodio adds, promotes “social, emotional and mental growth and development.”

2. Promotes sleep and soothes babies

Amodio notes that practicing baby and me yoga may result in better sleep for baby, which, in turn, means better sleep for mom. (Praise be!) Additionally, she and Tingley add, it can also result in better digestion, which also promotes sleep. 

The physical contact involved in yoga with baby can also help “calm and soothe” infants, Tingley says. 

3. Aids in language development

Tingley also notes that “the songs and games [that often accompany baby yoga]” “can help to enhance language development. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), singing to babies can help with:

  • Learning new words.
  • Learning about words.
  • Communication.
  • Listening.
  • Language comprehension.

4. Encourages parent/caregiver-baby bonding

McGuire, Tingley and Amodio all agree that baby and me yoga is an ideal tool for bonding. 

“The physical contact helps to foster a stronger bond and connection between mother and baby, which can help reduce stress levels,” Tingley says “It can also be incredibly calming for babies while helping them develop confidence in their growing abilities.”

And to that point, Tingley notes, it’s a great way for moms, dads or other caregivers to build up their confidence in taking care of baby.  

“Some of the best memories I have with my children are practicing yoga with them,” says McGuire. “And similarly, I think my own kids have good memories of practicing yoga with me — and they’ll continue to practice now that they are older.” Now that’s a benefit unto its own!

5. Helps build strength postpartum 

“Baby yoga can be incredibly beneficial for moms both in terms of postpartum recovery and as a general exercise,” Tingley says. “It also provides a wonderful opportunity for mothers to relax, stretch and begin to gently develop strength after giving birth. The movements and activities are designed to be low impact and rely on bodyweight or the weight of the baby to slowly build strength and repair muscles that have been underutilized or overstretched during pregnancy.” 

Additionally, Amodio adds, it’s great for rebuilding pelvic floor strength and setting a self-care routine.

6. Improves mental health for parents

“The mental and emotional benefits of yoga — particularly for stressed, tired new moms — are endless,” McGuire notes. “It’s been proven to decrease stress and help with emotional regulation.”

Amodio adds: “Yoga can help alleviate some symptoms of postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety.”

Additionally, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, yoga can:

  • Improve general wellness by relieving stress.
  • Support good health habits.
  • Improve mental/emotional health. 
  • Improve sleep.

7. Provides community and support

In addition to the physical and emotional benefits of yoga, signing up for a baby and me yoga class “provides an opportunity for parents to socialize and bond with other new parents in their area, which helps them establish a network of support,” Tingley says. “This can be incredibly helpful for those who are feeling isolated or overwhelmed and can help them build a sense of community with other parents.”

This is something McGuire has witnessed first-hand at Home Power Yoga, where she leads children’s classes and workshops in Cranford, New Jersey. “All of the postpartum classes at our studio offer more than just yoga,” she says. “They offer deep connections with people in the community. In fact, my sister is still friends with some of the moms she met in her baby and me yoga class four years ago!”