Yoga for Babies? Seriously??
Late at night, when you should be resting, have you ever slipped down an internet rabbit hole?
In 2005, I was on mat leave with my first kiddo and I am quite comfortable telling you I was suffering post-partum depression. Late, late at night I wasn’t resting; I wasn’t paying attention to my own needs while he slept. I spent those dark lonely hours worrying about his future. How soon until I could register him in the best music lessons, sports training and teams, early learning programs, aquatics… the list of goes on and on. It was exhausting.
By this time, I had been practicing yoga for about 9 years. So, in my internet amblings, I thought why not add yoga for babies to the list? Actually. I actually wanted to see if it was “a thing”. Unfortunately, locally I came up pretty empty. My searches led me to loads of “mommy and me” yoga classes, which are great, but weren’t what I was looking for. I already had a yoga practice and wasn’t looking to practice yoga while my baby lay nearby; I didn’t think I needed something FOR ME. I wanted something for him. I wanted my kiddo to DO YOGA.
And then there it was: Itsy Bitsy Yoga, created by Helen Garabedian. All pastel colours and bubbles and glee. Images and news segments about the benefits of yoga for babies and tots!
Developed with guidance from programs such as those of Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, Dr. Harvey Karp, and Julie Carson May. It doesn’t matter if you know these names. But it is worth knowing their works focus on Infant Developmental Movement and championing knowledge for parents and their babies. I searched for classes near me, but there were only a handful of certified facilitators in Canada and the closest was Winnipeg; 2200km from where I was raising my kiddo. So, I bought the book. And 8 months later, I was flying to Washington D.C. to participate in the Itsy Bitsy Yoga teacher training program with its founder. If I couldn’t take my kiddo to a class, I’d just teach one myself!
My well-loved copy. It has been notated, dog-eared, borrowed by interested parents and hauled around in my suitcase full of yoga props since 2005!
You can grab your own copy here:
(not an affiliate link; I do not profit from book sales)
The basis of my programs is to invite parents to support and nurture their little ones through a series of poses, songs and movement. It’s a whole lot of fun and there’s a whole lot of cuddling! The benefits are numerous. I would say the Three Key Benefits come in the form of:
Developmental Movement – healthy babies will naturally and in their own time, develop from being pre-mobile, to head holders, sitters, crawlers, walkers, and runners. Practicing Yoga allows parents to nurture that development in a way that is supportive and playful and encourages healthy movement patterns.
Easing Digestion – So many babies experience tummy discomfort which can affect moods; from a painful gas bubble to colic. Slow, simple movements can ease their discomfort and improve their moods. Sing-song activities can redirect their attention from what’s ailing them.
My Littlest at 7 months old. No matter how you feed your baby, their tummies have to learn to digest different foods. There are some great baby yoga poses when tummies get gassy or digestive systems get... backed up.
More Sleep! - Just like yoga for adults, a focused yoga practice for babies can actually settle a baby into a sleep faster and encourage them to rest longer! Better naps? Heck yeah!
I will definitely write more about each of these key benefits in upcoming posts and I encourage you to share your experiences – both the struggles and the solutions. Send me a message, or attend an online class and we can chat as a group.
But what about me? Did I ever do anything to support myself?
Absolutely! In the context of a baby yoga class specifically, moms/parents also benefit from the practice. Baby Yoga is a gloriously easy tool to add to your parenting tool box, for nurturing and bonding with your baby. Your hands, voice and loving gaze provide a felt-sense of confidence for your baby, but also for you. Incorporating sing-song chants and rhythms gets little ones smiling and giggling… and it will bring out your playful side too! It’s possible, and highly encouraged, that you rest during a yoga practice! Slow down and just breathe. So, it’s a practice designed with your little one in mind, which also features some key yoga benefits for adults.