Targets: Thighs and hips
How to do: Stand tall and look straight ahead. Keep your ribs stacked over your pelvis. Take a large step forward with one leg and bend both knees 90 degrees. Keep your front knee over your ankle as your back knee approaches the floor, heel lifted. Push off the back leg and step your feet together. Repeat with the opposite leg.
Verdict: Winner. I like this one and so did Quincy. He likes being worn and getting face time and I could feel my quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves working.
Photo: Chandra Fredrick of Oh Lovely Day
Targets: Your bum
How to do: Stand with your feet apart, directly under your hips, and place your hands on your hips or under your baby's bum. Stand up tall, pull your shoulders back, lift your chest, and pull in your abdominal muscles. Bend your knees while keeping your upper body as straight as possible, as if you were lowering yourself onto a chair behind you. Lower yourself as far as you can, while still keeping your knees in line with your toes. Hold the position (try for 30 seconds, but even a 10 second count is great to start!). Then straighten your knees, being careful not to lock them when you reach a standing position. Repeat for 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Verdict: Winner. Squats are my least favorite exercise, but only because they are hard to do (when done correctly). Squatting while wearing baby adds weight to the exercise, which is a bonus.
How to do: Lie back on the ball with your feet flat on the floor. Walk your feet forward, letting your entire back rest on the ball and keeping your thighs parallel to the floor. Cross your arms around behind baby's back and slightly tuck in your chin. Contract your abs and exhale as you raise your torso about 45 degrees. Pause, then lower, inhaling as you go. If you feel unstable, move your feet farther apart. Repeat 8 to 12 times.
Verdict: Not a fan. This was Quincy's least favorite exercise. And I felt too unstable on the ball for babywearing. While other moms and babies might have a different experience, this isn't a move I'm going to repeat.
Targets: Lower abs
How to do: Lie on your back with your hips and knees bent at a 90-degree angle. You shins should be parallel to the floor, with your baby lying on top. Exhale and crunch up without letting your chin drop into your chest (keeping your eyes on baby helps you keep your chin up). Inhale as you lower back to the floor. Try to do 3 sets of 10 to 15 and add to that as you get stronger.
Verdict: Winner. I loved this one and so did Quincy; he was laughing the whole time! Seeing him have so much fun took my mind off of how hard ab work is for me right now.
How to do: Lie face up on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Place your baby in a seated or reclined position on (or just above) your pubic bone, holding him securely around the torso. Contract your abs and lift your head, neck and shoulder blades off the floor in 2 counts, exhaling through your mouth as you go up. Lower in 3 seconds, inhaling through your nose, drawing your abs up and in. Do 15 to 20 reps. Rest and play, then do 1 to 2 more sets.
Verdict: Winner. For me, ab work is the most challenging after baby. But having your baby to focus on helps to get through those reps. And Quincy loved the face time.
Targets: Arms, abs, and chest
How to do: Lie on your back with your knees bent. Contract your abs and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold your baby securely and bring him close to your chest. Lift baby up over your chest and hold, careful not to lock your elbows. Then lower your baby back down to the starting position. Do 10 reps, rest and play, then do 2 more sets.
Verdict: Winner. This was definitely Quincy's favorite, as you can see from the picture. It was so much fun for him and such a good arm workout for me, especially because he's 18 pounds. If you have a really heavy baby, this one might be hard for you, like it was for me. You can always do fewer reps if you need to. Just be sure to look out for falling drool!
Targets: Arms and back
How to do: Sit cross-legged, holding your baby in front of your chest with your elbows bent. Straighten your arms upward without locking your elbows and exhaling through your mouth as you lift baby. Pause, then lower your baby to the starting position, inhaling as you lower. Do 10 reps, rest and play, then do 2 more sets.
Verdict: Lukewarm. This was a great arm workout for me and Quincy loved the lifting; however, my baby is heavy so the seated position offered less support for my lower back. You have to make sure you stay in good form. So, this move is better with smaller babies.