Pregnancy Exercises that Tighten and Tone

Group of pregnant women during fitness class.

Pregnancy Exercises that Tighten and Tone

It’s easy to think fitness is a lost cause during pregnancy, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With the right pregnancy exercises, you can have a healthier pregnancy, an easier delivery, and can prevent too much weight gain. One of the most common questions I am asked is, “How do I stay toned during pregnancy?”

My answer: lift weights!

You don’t need to be a bodybuilder (you’re doing that already 😉 ), but by incorporating the right strength training exercises, you can keep yourself feeling fit and looking toned all pregnancy long.

Pregnancy Exercises: Why Moms Should Lift Weights

There’s a myth that pregnancy exercises – specifically lifting weights – is dangerous for you and your baby, and that pregnant moms should avoid these types of activities. 

But the truth is that the real risk is being inactive.

Countless studies show that the outcomes for moms and babies are better with prenatal exercise. Research shows that moms who stay fit during pregnancy have shorter labors, less chance of preterm labor, fewer complications, and shorter hospital stays.

Studies even show that fit moms typically have healthier babies. 

Check out two interesting studies:

  • Exercise during pregnancy might program a baby’s heart to resist cardiovascular problems later in life, because they have stronger blood vessels. (Read this study.)
  • The brains of babies born to women who exercised moderately throughout pregnancy appear to mature faster. (Another study.)

You can’t deny the research – pregnancy exercises benefit both mom and baby!

And when it comes to pregnancy exercises, weight training is more important than aerobic training. Because unlike aerobic training, weight training provides cardiovascular health benefits and ALSO provides strength and muscular development benefits. (And keeps you toned!)

Now you have a strong case for WHY you should exercise (and why that exercise should include lifting weights) during your pregnancy.  Let’s talk about HOW to lift weights safely while pregnant.

How to Lift Weights during Pregnancy

First, check with your doctor or midwife. Then, make sure you’re keeping these important safety tips in mind:

6 Safety Tips for Pregnancy Exercises:

  1. For safety, choose exercise positions that encourage your spine to support itself in the neutral position during exercise.
  2. At the start of each exercise, contract your abdominal muscles by squeezing your belly button to your spine.
  3. Maintain the compression of the abdominal wall throughout your repetitions.
  4. Maintain neutral spine: don’t flatten your lower back or arch your spine. Don’t allow the spine to wobble or twist during any exercises.
  5. If needed, don’t be afraid to lower your resistance or weight-lifting levels as pregnancy progresses. Never sacrifice good form just to lift heavier weights.
  6. Take plenty of rests as needed throughout your workout and remember to stay hydrated!

Okay, so you’re approved for exercise and are given the green light by your provider. I recommend focusing on hybrid weight training exercises during pregnancy. 

Hybrid Exercises are the Best Pregnancy Exercises

Hybrid weight training exercises are exercises that involve more than one muscle group. They also use compound movements (squats, lunges, deadlifts, rows, presses, etc.) and are awesome for pregnancy. These exercises give your more strengthening “bang” for your “buck.” That means they allow pregnant moms to get the most benefits in the least amount of time. Because, let’s face it, sometimes even just a 10 minute workout can seem too long.

With hybrid exercises, pregnant moms can workout at home. You don’t have to spend hours at the gym. 

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Hybrid exercises go one step above isolation weight training exercises such as curls, calf raises, extensions, etc. to keep you strong and toned. While isolation exercises are helpful, you get greater benefits for both you and your baby when you use combinations of isolated exercises to form hybrids for a total body workout.

Hybrid weight training exercises require neutral spine stabilization. So you’ll simultaneously work on strengthening your core AND strengthening and toning the body parts that you’re working. This is far superior to other exercises that only do one thing. Like those that either isolate one muscle group (think: isolated bicep curls) or rely on external support (think: weight machines at the gym) to stabilize the spine.

Most traditional resistance machines have back rests or other features that support your spine and torso while your legs or arms perform repetitions. Over time, these types of exercises can do more harm than good. Because the spine is passive in these exercises, it does not need to do any work to support itself. Strength and power is developed in the limbs without the necessary corresponding functional strength and control in the torso. What results is a weak, non-integrated core with strong powerful limbs. This sets the stage for injury, and is especially problematic during pregnancy.

Favorite Pregnancy Exercises that Tighten and Tone

Click on each exercise name to watch me demonstrate the move! 

1) Back Exercise Hybrid: Squat/Row

Pregnancy Benefit: As your breasts get bigger during pregnancy, your shoulders round forward. Strengthening the muscles between your shoulder blades helps counteract the slump.

 Adding a squat to this movement helps you keep your lower body toned and strong throughout pregnancy.

2) Chest Exercise Hybrid: Incline Push Up/Tricep Dip

Pregnancy Benefit: It’s important to create muscle balance in your upper body by working your chest during pregnancy. Adding a tricep dip to this exercise also helps tone and strengthen your tricep (the back of your arm).

3) Arms Exercise Hybrid: Squat/Curl


Pregnancy Benefit: Strong arms! Soon you’ll be carrying around a baby, a diaper bag, and all the groceries. So in addition to keeping your arms toned, you’ll be glad you kept them strong with this exercise! 

4) Lower Body Exercise Hybrid: Lunge/Side Raise


Pregnancy Benefit: Your quadriceps and hamstrings bear the weight of your pregnancy as your belly grows, so strengthening your lower body with lunges is a great way to stay fit (and toned) during pregnancy. Adding a side raise to this exercise ensures your shoulders will stay strong throughout pregnancy as well.

5) Core
 Exercise: Plank
 Hold

Pregnancy Benefit: Keeping your abs strong will help prevent pregnancy-induced back pain.

Pregnancy Plank How to: Lower onto all fours so your wrists are directly under your shoulders. Lift your knees off the floor (don’t arch your back) so your body forms a straight line. Hold for 1 to 2 breaths, working up to 5 breaths.

Happy exercising, mamas!

READ MORE
A Gentle Reminder to Rejoice Pregnancy
About the Author /

Kate has a Bachelor’s degree in Health and Exercise Science and is our Baby Chick Fitness expert. As a fitness professional with countless years of experience helping women transform their bodies, Kate gives moms the tools needed to reach their health goals.

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Words & 📷: @postpartumstress⁠
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EXACTLY! 🧟‍♀️😴⁠ (via @cydbeer via Tw EXACTLY! 🧟‍♀️😴⁠
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Thank you, Chris Harrison, for that note. 😑😒 Thank you, Chris Harrison, for that note. 😑😒⁠
📷: @with_love_becca⁠
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💥⁠
Even when the world around her wanted to see her pregnancy as a problem, a physical weakness, an obstacle to overcome . . . Allyson Felix embodied and harnessed a power they couldn’t even imagine.⁠
💥⁠
She created and grew an entire human being, got preeclampsia, recovered from that and a surgical birth to bring her baby into her arms earlier than she expected. Spent countless hours in the NICU, died as a maiden. Transformed into a mother. Learned to run in her new postpartum body. And returned to the world better, faster and stronger than ever by breaking a record that moved her past the fastest man alive. Yeah . . .⁠
That’s how f✨cking magical we are. 💥”⁠
repost: @douladoula⁠
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As both a mom of toddlers and a nationally certifi As both a mom of toddlers and a nationally certified yoga instructor, I’ve experienced firsthand how fun and beneficial yoga can be – not just for parents but for their children, too! Yoga can be so instructive in terms of understanding what our body needs to be healthy. For a child to see and experience the mindfulness that yoga enables in tandem with a parent truly sets a foundation for that child’s awareness of what it means to be healthy—both physically and mentally.⁠
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Today we're sharing six yoga poses that can be done universally with any age—including toddlers. We’ve also included a conversation prompt if you’d like to dialogue with your child throughout the exercise. (As a reminder, don’t be discouraged if your child is acting silly or can’t master a yoga pose. The point is to have fun and relax, above all else!)⁠
{Click on 🔗 in our bio to continue reading!}⁠
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Pretty sure I still help you wipe your butt and ch Pretty sure I still help you wipe your butt and change your sheets when you wet the bed, sooooo agree to disagree. 🤷‍♀️ #aslongasimlivingmybabyyoullbe⁠
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What is HypnoBirthing? – Podcast Ep 24 🤰🧘‍♀️💗⁠
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📷: @alrightmom⁠
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What to Keep in Your Toddler's First Aid Kit ⛑️📦⁠
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Any pregnant mamas out there relate?⁠
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A fabulous visual of cervical dilation. Women's bo A fabulous visual of cervical dilation. Women's bodies are incredible. 🙌💕⁠
Board by: @treasuresfromjennifer
📷: unknown⁠
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Anger. Rage. Frustration. Guilt. Shame. Remorse. A Anger. Rage. Frustration. Guilt. Shame. Remorse. Apologies. Self-digust. All make mothering complicated and layered with conflicting emotions.⁠
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Make space for mistakes. Try self-compassion when you disappoint yourself. Learn skills to help regulate your emotions if necessary. take care of your marriage/partnership. Your baby loves you unconditionally. Do not forget that.⁠
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Comic from "Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts" @familiustalk @brooklyn_rabbit⁠
Words & 📷: @postpartumstress⁠
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Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. ❤️ It is Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. ❤️ It is the day Americans honor Dr. King's legacy and his key role in helping our nation get closer to its goal of equality for all. There are several important lessons from MLK that we can all learn from and teach our children. If you want to spread his legacy and honor this day, share these 12 lessons with your kids and let's implement them into our own lives. 💜 {Click 🔗 in bio to read more!}⁠
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Crawling is correct. 🤣⁠ (quote via @mytherapi Crawling is correct. 🤣⁠
(quote via @mytherapistsays)⁠
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When you wish you could buy half sizes. 😑🤣⁠
📷: @momhashtags⁠
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TRUTH!⁠ 😂⁠ (quote via @nottheworstmom via T TRUTH!⁠ 😂⁠
(quote via @nottheworstmom via Twitter)⁠
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We get that diapers and childcare aren't cheap and We get that diapers and childcare aren't cheap and bills really add up, but it doesn't cost much to schedule time as a family together. Get out of the house together and make memories. Whether you drive to the lake or your nearest beach or a cool park close by, spend time together. Invest in your memories. Invest in your relationships. Those will be the things that stay with you forever and make you the happiest and "richest" in the long run. ❤️⁠
📷: @momsgotink⁠
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#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣
How would you finish this sentence? . . .⁠ You k How would you finish this sentence? . . .⁠
You know you have a newborn when _______.⁠
📷: @healthiest_baby⁠
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#parenting #parenthood #parentlife #motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #mommychick #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣
You’ve spent the past 9 months preparing for the You’ve spent the past 9 months preparing for the arrival of your beautiful baby. 🤰 Labor and delivery has come and gone. Now its time for your 6-week postpartum check up. 🏥  So much of life after delivery is focused on your new bundle of joy that you can sometimes forget to care for yourself. This is exactly why I believe the postpartum appointment is so important to you as a new momma – because it’s all about you! 💗⁠
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Sure, your provider loves to fawn over your sweet baby, but this appointment is about mom. How are YOU doing? Self-care is so important to your health and recovery after having a baby, so let this appointment focus on your well-being. 😊⁠
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Here are 10 helpful questions to ask when you see your provider at your 6-week postpartum check up. 📝 Your provider will likely cover most or all of these topics on her or his own, but use this as a guide to remind you to ask anything she or he doesn’t cover! {Click 🔗 in bio to read more!}⁠
📷: @tailsandwings⁠
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#postpartum #postpartumlife #newmom #postpartumcheckup #postnatal #postpartumhealth #postpartumwellness #obgyn #4mind4body #momcare #motherhoodjourney #motherhoodlife #postpartumdoula #postpartumrecovery #mommychick #babychick
YES 👏 IT 👏 DOES👏⁠ Go and find your troo YES 👏 IT 👏 DOES👏⁠
Go and find your troop, your tribe, squad, village. Whatever you want to call it. Find people to surround yourself with who will support YOU, love YOU, encourage YOU as a woman and as a parent. Parenthood is tough. Especially when you feel alone. So find your village and love them hard. And from one mother to another, load up on wipes. Because motherhood can get quite messy too!⁠ 😉⁠
📷: @hallmarkbaby⁠
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#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
An amazing story from a determined mom to breastfe An amazing story from a determined mom to breastfeed her #triplets. 💗 With hard work, determination, help and support, anything is possible.
Words & 📷: @triplets_and_toddler
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“I breastfed my first child so I knew I wanted to #breastfeed again. People were skeptical about me #breastfeeding triplets, and this drove my determination! 💪 My boys were born at 29+3 and therefore it was so important for them to have #breastmilk! 🤱
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After having an emergency C-section, I knew there was no time to rest, so I started hand expressing within the first hour. I set an alarm to ensure that I expressed every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours overnight. ⏰
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Being separated from my boys was hard so having pictures/video links helped whilst I expressed. Seeing my teeny, vulnerable babies in their little incubators drove my determination to provide them with my milk! I also rotated muslin squares between us so that I could smell them and vice versa. This also helped me whilst I expressed during the night away from my boys. Their smell on the swaddles kept me focused! 💙
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Twice during our #NICU journey my boys were split between hospitals over an hour apart! This was the hardest time and meant I was separated from 2 of my boys for a couple of days. During this time I kept up with expressing and ensured that all three of them had enough milk to take with them until we were all reunited.
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Looking back I feel it is my sheer determination that has really enabled me to successfully breastfeed my triplet boys! Not once have they needed donor or formula milk. It required a massive commitment both physically and emotionally but I am so proud of my achievement! My boys are now 11 months and are still breastfeeding." ❤️
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*This story is not to bring any mothers down that choose to formula feed. (I, personally, had to give my son formula at 7 months old!) We share this mother's story to inspire mothers and celebrate our victories! ✨
If you are having breastfeeding struggles and want to succeed, contact a good local IBCLC and receive support. Find new mom friends who are also breastfeeding who can encourage you. And if you choose to formula feed, we honor you too. 💕 #mommychick
WTF 😑⁠ (via @thenatewolf via Twitter)⁠ .⁠ WTF 😑⁠
(via @thenatewolf via Twitter)⁠
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#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
Repeat after me . . . 💗⁠ (quote via @friscoar Repeat after me . . . 💗⁠
(quote via @friscoareamoms)⁠
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#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #mommychick #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #positiveaffirmations #motherhoodaffirmations
🧠 4 Ways to Promote Your Child's Mental Health 🧠 4 Ways to Promote Your Child's Mental Health 🧠⁠
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Your child’s mental health is fairly complicated. It's also critical to their overall health and wellness. We often think of mental health as it pertains to adults, but just like growth and physical development, research shows that mental health is something that should be considered starting at birth. ❤️⁠
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When children are very young, their brains are extremely sensitive to environmental stress. Toxic stress, defined as high levels of prolonged stress, can have life-long effects on children. Limiting stress for young children is critical for their early mental health. One of the most fundamental ways we can help eliminate toxic stress is by building a strong relationship foundation from the very beginning of their lives. Your relationship with your baby is an integral part of their sense of self-esteem, independence, and confidence; three key factors in mental health.⁠
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Building that relationship with your child can be broken down into four key concepts . . . {Click 🔗 in bio to find out what they are!}⁠
📷: @vlentine⁠
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#parenting #parenthood #parentlife #motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #mommychick #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣
Just in case you call her a boy, here's a MASSIVE Just in case you call her a boy, here's a MASSIVE bow that shows she's a girl . . . yet still somehow get's called a boy. 🤷⁠
📷: unknown⁠
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#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
💤 Good Bedtime Routines for Babies of Every Age 💤 Good Bedtime Routines for Babies of Every Age 💤⁠
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If you’ve ever typed into Google, “Why won’t my baby sleep?” you’re not alone. In fact, you’re among thousands of other parents/caregivers who are likely as tired as you are. Chances are, if you have gone down the Google rabbit hole at 2:00 a.m. (or just asked your pediatrician for sleep advice), then you’ve most likely been introduced to the concept of a bedtime routine.⁠
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A bedtime routine can be an incredibly helpful tool in establishing healthy sleep habits and good sleep hygiene. Infants and young children thrive on routine; in fact, they are comforted by predictability (spoiler alert: most adults are this way, too!). Plus, a young mind is exposed to so much new information every day that it’s reassuring for a child to know that they can depend on certain events to have a predictable structure.⁠
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Bedtime routines are also a cue to their brains and bodies that sleep is coming. With a predictable bedtime routine, your little one will start to recognize the order of the routine and begin to anticipate what comes next. With enough repetition, this process happens automatically in a very Pavlovian way. A calm and successive routine will also make the onset of sleep come more easily. Can you imagine if you walked out of your workout and immediately someone told you that you had to lay down and fall asleep? This would be nearly impossible, and the same is true for our little ones. By allowing them some time to unwind, you are making the falling asleep process that much easier. Here are some tips on what to do for your little one's bedtime. ❤️⁠ {Click 🔗 in bio to read more!}⁠
📷: @hannahxruth⁠
Article by: @ohbabyconsulting⁠
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#babysleep #goodnight #bedtime #bedtimeroutine #nightnight #sweetdreams #sleepconsultant #babysleeptips #sleepcoach #parenting #sleeptips #motherhood #babylove #sleeptraining #parentingtips #sleeping #toddlersleep #sleephelp #parentinghelp #sleepcoaching #parenthood #sleepdeprived #sleeptraininghelp #babysleepconsultant #babychick #mommychick #momlife
THIS. The struggle is real.⁠ ⁠🥴 📷: @brit THIS. The struggle is real.⁠ ⁠🥴
📷: @britt.kav⁠
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#parenting #parenthood #parentlife #motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #mommychick #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #momhumor
It's the beeeeeessssttttt . . . 😬😑 (quote vi It's the beeeeeessssttttt . . . 😬😑
(quote via @smalltowntallgirl)⁠
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#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
🤗 7 Tips for Raising Secure and Happy Kids 🤗 🤗 7 Tips for Raising Secure and Happy Kids 🤗⁠
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Parenting is hard. And ever so important. But sometimes it feels like we need to have a special degree in “Managing Toddler Mood Swings” to navigate some of the unexpected scenarios that come with raising secure and happy children.⁠
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Like how do we handle a child that likes to scream instead of talk?⁠
“Please, child, just lower your voice while we’re in Target.”⁠
Or what are we supposed to do when a child prefers to strip down every time we get them dressed or only eat foods that are the color blue?! (In case you’re wondering, there aren’t many blue foods.)⁠
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It can feel tricky and tiring to try and do it all right and then sometimes still feel like you’re at a loss. But the truth is, there’s never any way to make everything perfect. But there are things we can do that set our children up to feel secure and happy. And here are seven of my favorite tips. {Click 🔗 in bio to read more!}⁠
📷: @lauren.stewart_dc⁠
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#parenting #parenthood #parentlife #motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #mommychick #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣
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