We have all heard that setting personal fitness goals and establishing an exercise routine is a great way to improve and maintain both our physical and mental health. Packing more movement into your week is essential, especially as a small growing human!
Encouraging infants to be active in both movement and play is important to early development. A study done in 1972 found that infant physical activity can improve motor development when increased. Recent studies show that increased physical activity can also improve social development (skills involving interacting with others or even self-care behavior), bone health, and can help to learn about the world around them.
The World Health Organization suggests that infants should be moving and grooving at least a few times a day, preferably through interactive play-based learning! The American Academy of Pediatrics also supported an infant having at least half an hour of “tummy time” a day, supervised by an adult.
Physical movement is important to an infant’s development, but how can we encourage our children to move in a world filled with distractions such as technology?
Encouraging Tummy Time
While your child is bright-eyed and awake, it is important to encourage, play, and engage an infant on their tummy. This is important to infants who are not yet mobile. Tummy time can help strengthen an infant’s neck and shoulder muscles for future developmental milestones such as sitting, crawling, and walking.
Make Movement Fun
Learn about movement with your child and make it fun! Singing, dancing, patty-cake or peekaboo all encourage infants to move in a fun way. Another great way to make movement fun is to create an age-appropriate obstacle course. Older infants that can crawl or scoot will love this! Foam blocks can turn into hurdles and cardboard can create fun tunnels. Involve your child’s favorite stuffed animals, blankets, and toys to create the best obstacle course.
Find something that your child loves and create an opportunity to practice movement. Does your child love bubbles? Blow bubbles and encourage your child to move and catch them, supporting hand-eye coordination.
Model Physical Activity
It’s important to show your child what it means to be active. Do you have a physical activity you enjoy throughout the week? Do you garden? Do home yoga? Show your child what it means to really enjoy moving and taking up space.
Create the Perfect Space to Play
Even the most normal and mundane objects can pose as a choking hazard, especially those that are small and easy to grab. As your infant begins to explore movement through their hands, fingers, legs, and feet – they begin to grab anything around them to explore. Using their senses, like smell and taste, infants learn about objects and themselves through the objects. It is important to clear any debris/clutter, removing any potential hazardous objects. Soft carpeted rugs on a wood floor would be the perfect addition to provide padding for any falls while practicing walking through the space, as well.
Take Movement Outdoors
It’s important to expose children to the outdoors at least a few times a day. Parks, playgrounds, and other public areas allow for motor development related activities such as crawling, rolling, or walking. It also allows your child to meet other infants, improving their communication and overall social development.
Introducing Music to Movement
Weave song and music into your child’s routine. Show them movement to popular children’s songs such as If You’re Happy and You Know It and Row, Row, Row Your Boat. Have them repeat these motions, engaging them while they move!
Overall, music is so beneficial to all ages, but music can help auditory and speech development for young listeners. Offer safe rattles or other children’s instruments like hand drums, rain sticks, or xylophones and watch as your child discovers making music themselves. Show them how to shake a rattle and watch as they mimic your movement with amazement.
At The Nest Schools, we believe physical movement is an essential part to early development. One of our enrichment programs, Fit Buddies, encourages an active life early on. We prioritize teaching children that movement and play can be fun and engaging while helping improve their physical and mental health along the way.
As children get older, our Fit Buddies program introduces soccer, tennis, gymnastics and more – creating opportunities for each child to develop a healthy relationship with physical activity and wellness. Yoga is introduced in order to experience different yoga and meditation poses to help develop a sense of self, strengthen their core, and make them feel connected with their environment and teachers. Education Coordinators create a calming atmosphere with the help of meditation music as they interact individually with each child and assist them in tackling developmentally appropriate yoga poses!
No matter if your child is as active as they come or prefers to lounge, it’s important to create a space where they can comfortably explore, play, and move. Whether it be outdoors or indoors, introducing new ways to keep moving can spark your child’s love of overall wellness.