Could baby pilates be the next big thing?!

Many of us love good old Pilates. It is a fantastic way to exercise. But did you know it also has the same benefits for your baby?

Playlates is a new app that encourages parents to explore active, developmental games with their newborns and young babies in a way that is safe and fun.

Nathanael Buckley, creator of Playlates, first thought of the concept after the birth of his daughter, Phoebe. As an experienced Pilates teacher, he began using soft, gentle exercises on his daughter a way to increase the amount of interactive play they could enjoy together. He began to see the benefits these exercises were having on Phoebe.

“Phoebe is very strong, social and capable; every day she wanted to try new things and Playlates was an exciting way to be part of that. She was rolling over, crawling and walking at the early end of the expected spectrum for these skills and she was easy to settle after doing a few games so it was a great way to ensure she rested well,” says Nathanael.

Eventually the exercises Nathanael was practising with his daughter evolved into exercise videos. With his changing work hours he found it difficult to take his newborn daughter to baby gym classes on time. Nathanael decided to create an app that any parent can use with their children from the comfort of their own home, using these exercise videos he created with Phoebe.

“As a working parent I felt that I was missing out on valuable bonding time with my daughter as stay-at-home parents have in Gymbaroo classes. This app gives parents flexibility to safely bond with their children at any time, anywhere,” says Nathanael.

“Pilates is incredibly beneficial to children. I have been teaching Pilates for 16 years and it has allowed me to work with clients at every skill and age level, including children of all ages. Through my experience I have found that Pilates challenges babies to develop physical and social skills, creating an ‘activation relationship’ which allows children to learn to be brave in difficult situations or when meeting new people. It also builds immense trust between parent and child and soothes the baby, knowing that the parent is always there for them, supporting them every literal step of the way,” says Nathanael.

The Playlates app can be used with children from the ages of two months to one year. It can be downloaded from the app store and contains an intro and four sections to suit each stage of the child’s development. Within each section, there are fifteen activities listed and each activity has its own page with a description and video.

Using the app for guidance, parents can help their baby stretch and coordinate their arms and legs, practice rolling over, build strong back and core muscles safely and eventually develop motor skills for crawling and walking. The games are short, safe, fun and infinitely repeatable. It is completely secure, however the parents must be with the child at all times paying very close attention to the baby to ensure he or she is always safe and comfortable.

“The app is not only beneficial for the child but the parent also. It helps build parental confidence and non-verbal communication between parent and child. It also helps with social skills. In today’s day and age most technology is ruining our social skills and interactions with other people, whereas Playlates actually encourages it and helps parents engage with their child,” says Nathanael.

Playlates is currently available from the Apple App store and is free to download which includes five introductory activities. Four further sets of activities are available at $2.49 each. Each additional set contains 15 games.