Ways to fit in exercise with a new baby

Postpartum | Wellbeing | | Charlie Launder


This is the million-dollar question, and one that lands in my inbox most days. As mums, it’s usually something that we figure out as we go along, but the answer is also ever-evolving as your baby grows. When your baby is very small they sleep a lot more in the day. It’s often easier to get some exercise done at this time in their life, as they can sleep next to you while you work out. However, as the sleeps get fewer and shorter, finding the time to exercise becomes more of a challenge.

Something I feel very strongly about is that parents should never feel guilty for their baby or child seeing them exercise. Your children do not need to be asleep for you to exercise. Of course, it is easier when you’ve got some time to yourself, but if you only allow yourself to exercise when your baby is asleep it can add stress when you’re trying to implement a nap routine or predict how long they may sleep for further down the line.

Awake baby

If you are planning to exercise when your baby is awake, first think about the time of day that they are generally the happiest and most settled. When I had my first, I found that after his first feed of the morning he would happily lie on his playmat and roll around while I exercised, or watch me from his bouncer. Make sure your baby is fed, changed and has lots to look at. Surround them with toys or a mobile overhead so they are kept entertained.

The quicker you accept that your workout will involve intermittent tickles or funny dances to keep your baby’s spirits up the better. Rest periods between squats may be less about checking your instagram and more about picking up rattles your baby has dropped, and your playlist may be less workout vibes and more nursery rhymes, but a workout is a workout!

Asleep baby

You need to be absolutely ready to go the second your baby closes those eyes. No dawdling time allowed as often these naps are unpredictable, so you need to make the most of this time. Set up your workout equipment, mat and area before you get your baby ready for their nap, put your activewear and trainers on, know what workout you’re going to do - either you’ve planned your own or you’re doing a class. If you need to spend time scrolling through classes or trying to think of what exercises to put in your workout, do it before putting your baby down for their sleep.

Get yourself organised way before nap time so that as soon as you get that green light you are on your way. Then, you can spend any extra time you get in this nap in the shower, or having some lunch.

Flex those plans

I think something we need to learn as new mums is to be flexible, and I don’t mean that in a physical sense. We need to get really good at plans changing in an instant. You may have woken up today thinking ‘I am going to do a dumbbell class this morning while my baby plays on her mat’, but perhaps you’ll get ten minutes into it and find she’s not happy and wants to be held all the time. Switch your dumbbells for your baby and make it a baby led class, or just cut it short. It can be frustrating, but you soon learn how to adapt. Remember: any workout counts. Even if it's half of what you planned, it's still something.