One new mom's take: Baby yoga's lessons are worth the spit-up
My brain was in a typical tired mother's fog as I spread a baby blanket across an exercise mat and laid my daughter on it for her first yoga class.
It was exactly three months after I'd returned to work following her birth, and that morning, I'd already gotten her from our house in Woodridge to a checkup with her doctor in Wheaton by the time we found the yoga room in the basement of a medical building in St. Charles.
But my brain freeze thawed pretty quickly when I saw how happy 5-month-old Audrey was to meet other babies her size for the first time. She's usually a pretty smiley baby, but boy was she beaming.
And my focus sharpened when I realized this class I was fortunate enough to attend for work -- although focused on Audrey and her nine new baby friends -- was going to be a big plus for me. I'm usually a creative person, but I do feel inadequate when I run out of ideas for baby play.
Baby yoga gave me a fresh stock of new ones.
I can lay Audrey across my legs on her tummy. I can put her tummy on my shins, lay back and help her fly like "Superbaby." I can teach her to kick her heels to her butt or bring her knees to her chest to help if she's fussy because of gas. Or I can hold her in front of me and do squats, singing all the while to make it more fun.
Occupational therapist Patti Ideran's 45-minute class was a stretch and strengthening session for my little one and a lesson in playtime ideas for me, a 31-year-old working full-time while my husband (also working full-time) and I adjust to being parents.
And one of the adjustments is play.
Ideran said I'm just like other parents she's taught during the past year when, after I change Audrey's diaper, feed her, play with her toys and comfort her until she naps, I sometimes wonder, "and then what else am I supposed to do?"
This generation of parents often needs the help of someone like an occupational therapist or baby yoga teacher, Ideran said, because many of us were so busy with music or sports or jobs in high school that we never got any child care experience from babysitting.
"And then all of a sudden, you're 30 and you have this baby and you have no idea what to do with it," Ideran said. "It's true!"
That's why Ideran's baby yoga classes, which she offers through Northwestern Medicine, are so educational. Silly songs are part of each exercise. There are moves on the baby's back and tummy along with standing poses and a few elements of baby massage. All of it is helpful because all of it is new to most of the parents who enroll in the six-week sessions.
"This really teaches them how to play with a baby," Ideran said.
As the class starts, I notice how much the babies enjoy the motions and songs, how little they cry. I appreciate the sight of so many other new mothers -- and one new father -- all in one place.
The lack of crying sort of breaks down during the five-minute parental relaxation session at the end of the class, which is ironic.
Ideran turns her soundtrack to a recording of a clarinetist playing variations on "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," and the parents are supposed to lie on their bellies and close their eyes. But the majority are feeding their little ones, who range in age from 10 weeks to seven months.
Audrey, however, finished her most recent meal moments before baby yoga began, which led to a different reason my relaxation didn't quite go as planned.
"And sometimes," Ideran said, "baby yoga causes spit-up."