To really strengthen a baby’s leg muscles, try this therapist-approved exercise called the “Back-Lying” position. This exercise is especially helpful if your baby needs to:
- Gain flexibility and strength in the legs
- Gain flexibility and strength in the back
- Experiences hypertonicity (limited range of motion) in their hamstrings
Our daughter, Lua, recently was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 4 months old (corrected age).
We recently met with her physical therapist (PT) who told us to try this “Back-Lying” exercise to focus on strengthening her leg muscles. Since Lua has stiffness in both legs, the therapist said it helps to build flexibility and muscle tone.
Below is a video to show you EXACTLY how to do it along with step-by-step instructions. If possible, incorporate this into your daily routine to help your little one’s lower extremities strengthen.
It’s definitely working for Lua because her legs are less stiff which is why I’m sharing this to spread the word! I hope this exercise benefits your precious baby as it has for our sweet Lua.
Let’s get started!
First, Why Is It Important To Build The Muscles In A Baby’s Legs and Back?
Building the muscles in a baby’s legs and back is an important motor skill for early development. The strength gained through a “Back-Lying” exercise helps a baby to meet important milestones like learning how to:
Developing flexibility in the legs and back builds posture and balance. It also helps to connect the neuromuscular pathways to enhance body awareness. In a nutshell, strengthening these muscles early on helps prep your baby to learn how to walk. More importantly, it’s an essential skill set for babies to explore their surroundings and enjoy playtime with confidence!
“Back-Lying” Exercise Benefits
First off, this exercise boosts the following body movements:
- Head alignment with the body
- Hands together
- Hips bent
- Knees straight with the legs together
By focusing on these body movements, it helps your baby to:
- To track with their eyes to focus on YOU, the hands, and legs
- Enable the hands to explore the legs
- Improve muscle flexibility of the legs and back
- Reduce arching of the body
So you may be wondering, “How do I do a “Back-Lying” exercise?” Good question AND it’s super easy to do. Let’s dive into that next.
How To Do A “Back-Lying” Position With Your Baby Step-By-Step
Step 1. Sit on the floor or on a bed.
Stretch out your legs in front of you OR as my video shows, your legs can also be bent at an angle. For added comfort, support your back against furniture or with pillows.
Step 2. Lay your baby in front of you between your legs facing you.
Make sure your baby’s bottom is up against your body (stomach area) as close as possible.
Step 3. If needed, support your baby’s head on a pillow.
By doing this, the pillow helps keep your little one’s chin tucked and head in line with their body.
Step 4. Place your baby’s legs up against your chest and stomach.
Make sure the hips are bent, the knees are as straight as possible, and the legs are together.
Step 5. Make sure your baby’s knees are straight by pressing the legs against your body.
To do this, place your hand across your baby’s thighs.
Step 6. Bring your baby’s arms down and hands together.
Now that you are in position and ready to interact with your sweet pea, here are some play ideas to try.
“Back-Lying” Play Ideas
Kick this exercise up a notch with these playful ideas to make it FUN:
- Make faces
- Sing a song
- Dangle a toy in front of your baby’s face to encourage reaching and grasping
- Put bracelets or stickers on the feet to entice your baby to reach for their legs
- Put a toy on the stomach to help your baby explore it with their hands
Video: How To Do A “Back-Lying” Exercise With Your Baby
A Special Note About Hypertonicity…
A baby’s hamstrings get longer when they sit with their hands to their feet and their feet to their mouths. Babies with hypertonicity often have a very limited range of motion in their hamstrings.
Therefore, it is critical to include early hand-to-foot and foot-to-mouth play in the treatment plan for a little one with hypertonicity. Doing this, helps a baby gain the necessary length and strength in their hamstring muscles to crawl, stand, and walk.
To Wrap It Up
Since incorporating this back-lying exercise into our daily routine, we are so grateful for Lua’s progress! We’re now seeing increased flexibility and strength in her leg muscles. It’s been super helpful for her hypertonicity.
I hope this post benefits all parents whose babies need extra help with their leg muscles! The back-lying position is one surefire way of getting results as I’ve witnessed firsthand with my daughter.
With only a few minutes of daily practice, this powerful exercise proves you don’t have to invest a lot of time for great results. Of course, be sure to check with your physical therapist or pediatrician for further guidance as every baby is different. In any case, I can’t sing the praises enough for this simple but effective exercise.
Until the next post, I’m sending you all the positive parenting vibes!
What other exercises do suggest to strengthen a baby’s leg muscles? Let me know in the comments below! Your input means a lot.
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About The Author
Linds is the proud mom of two little miracles, Mono Mono twin girls, and one AMAZING older brother! She is the founder and content creator of Mono Mono Twins, Intensive Therapy for Kids, and Co-Founder of The LENN Foundation, a 510c3 that helps children with cerebral palsy receive grants for intensive therapies to thrive. ♥
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