‘Baby Yoga’ vs Safe Infant Exercise

I was watching ‘The Doctors’ yesterday and they had a segment on this charlatan named Lena Fokina and her brand of ‘Baby Yoga’. You can find her videos on Youtube and articles about her and the yoga online. Lately it seems to be everywhere causing a huge controversy in Europe. Have you seen it? And if so what did you think on an intellectual and then emotional level?

To me it was horrible. I sat there with a hand on heart and the other over my mouth as if trying to hold in my horror. If you think that she’s swinging and tossing around a doll you’re very much mistaken. That is a real terrified crying infant. That noise you’re hearing? A babies panic cry, the one they use when in true distress hoping someone will come to their aid. The position the babies body is in? That’s the panic position, when all of their earlier distress cues have been missed or ignored a baby will arch their back and fling out their arms while crying or screaming. The people you see watching? That infants parents and other parents taking this insane woman’s ‘classes’ on Baby Yoga.

Lena claims that in Russia, where she’s from, this form of yoga is becoming very popular for helping develope an infants joint and muscle strength and that children wh had their parents do this to them are smarter as well. She also says that babies learn to enjoy it and helps them acclimatize to being outside of the womb by making them relax.

I don’t believe it or see how that is possible. Putting aside everything we know about Shaken Baby Syndrome, which is an obvious risk with this, what about the hazards to the childs joints? Dislocation or rupture? Then there’s also the whole what if you drop them?

Personally, I know that if I ever saw someone doing this to my child physically restraing me wouldn’t be enough to stop me from doing bodily harm to whomever thought it was ok to flop my child around like a sack. I alsoo know that parents have a right to raise their children how they believe is best but I honestly don’t think I could walk by a park where this was being done and not try to intervine. We as parents have the right to raise our children but we don’t have the right to force something so obviously distressing on a baby who is unable to express their displeasure in any way other than a cry.

I’m definately not saying to not offer your infant a healthy way to exercise and strengthen their muscles, just a safe way. My daughter will be 11 weeks tomorrow and she gets lots of exercise and is in fact ahead of the game with physical achievements for babies her age. This is all on top of being 2 weeks early and losing another almost 2 1/2 weeks to hospital stays and illness. How did we manage this? By spending lots of her awake time playing with her of course. Even in the very beginning while I was in the earliest stages of physical recovery from the C-Section I made sure she was doing modified tummy time for a new born and sit up time. I would carry her on one fore arm tummy down so that she could start learning control of her neck muscles by looking around in a completely safe and controlled way. We only started this when we noticed early on that she is a people watcher and enjoys many different views and scenery to look at.

Even at the beginning when a newborns vision is only 12-18 inches she liked lots of visual stimuli, colours and faces. She even started focusing on the cats fairly early on. So upon realizing her external interests other than ourselves we made sure she could focus on them as often as possible without overstimulizing her. It’s a delicate balance but worth the extra time and effort so far.

We also have had her working on her leg muscles for weeks now. She can now with assistance stand up while we start off holding her around her chest and then we can even move to just holding onto her arms to offer balance so she doesn’t fall over. She can do this for up to 1-2 minutes before sitting down and then wanting to do it again. She likes it and will continue this repeat process for up to 10-15 minutes now. Just liike she enjoys sitting up on her own with us again only offering balance. I know some people are probably thinking ‘What about her neck and head? Doesn’t it flop around?’ The answer is ‘NO’, she has excellent neck and head control becasue we’ve been working on it from the beginning. She can even roll fully over from tummy to back sometimes now, not every time but sometimes. The same from back to front.

All it takes as I said before is a very hands on approach to babying, which does mean I get less vegge time while she’s up but we have I feel a very close bond, Daddy included. She’s very vocal and can make many sounds and different types of Coo’s. She also has many facial expressions to let us know how she’s feeling.

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She’s a month old here and this is her ‘Don’t do that, it is NOT ok with me’ face, which is still the look she gives me once she finishes shrieking at me for cleaning out her nose when it’s stuffed up. That’s a left over trauma from the hospital that she I sometimes think will never go away.

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This is her ‘I just woke up and am SO happy to see you!’ face. this is what we see 80% of the time when she first wakes up. The other 20%? That’s a frown or at night cry of ‘I slept too long and am hungry or dislike how my diaper feels’.

I’m not saying she has no problems, she does. Our biggest is breastmilk intake. Because she was so sick and had to be in an oxygen box for so long she does not breast feed. She gets bottles, but unfortunately she has trouble drinking more then 2-3 ounces, and even then she’ll only manage that a few times a day. She cannot keep it down. This is due to the illness again, she was on IV only for a bit and then due to choking and vomitting problems from her breathing issues we were only to give her a maximum of 2 ounces at each feeding and feed her more frequently. Even all this time later with lots of trying and constant spit up we’ve only been able to increase as I mentioned to 3. She also is still quite petite, wearing a blend of N/B through to 3 months, which are still big.

I truely believe we’re helping her prep for later advancements such as crawling and walking, but I don’t think we’re pushing her unsafely or too soon because we’re only moving at a pace she sets. The best thing about our approach? She sleeps well, she tends to sleep a bit more then the stated average for a baby her age but she’s also more active so it makes sense. She also only wakes up once a night for a feed and goes right back to sleep. No fuss, no muss. Her night time wake up also coincides with my night time pump, so I end up not even having to exert any extra effort.

I’m definately not telling anyone how to raise their baby but would like to offer hope that there is a safe way that works on babies time line and ours as parents. We might give her the first push but we at no point force her to keep doing something she obviously finds upsetting, other then getting out of the bath (she hates being cold). We just feel that reading our daughters bodily cues and expressions is the most practical way of raising a happy healthy baby and for us at least it seems to be working. She doesn’t cry or scream unnecessarily, only when something is truely upsetting her and yet she’s constantly making noises and sounds all of them positive to her learning curve. As I typre we’re working on a laugh.

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