10 February 2020
Early childhood is a time of foundational growth in children’s physical abilities. To support your child’s core strength, balance, coordination, sensory integration, planning sense, flexibility and fitness, please keep in mind the following basic lifestyle choices that influence how your child develops and interacts with the world:
· Avoid “Container Baby Syndrome”: Babies who go from car seat to stroller to strapped-in high chair or bouncy seat do not develop the core muscle strength they need to be able to sit, crawl, pull-up and walk on a typical developmental schedule. Physical therapists report delays of four months or more in critical milestones in “container babies.” Lack of core muscle strength can cause delays in all aspects of physical development throughout the childhood years.
· Avoid Screens: Relying on i-phones, tablets, computers and televisions to entertain children limits their interest in and ability to explore the world around them. There has been a vast increase in the number of children who lack three-dimensional vision due to use of screens too young and too often.
· Get Outside: Children enjoy exploring the world around them in all its dimensions including looking up into trees, across open landscapes, down from playground structures and up-close at sticks, leaves, insects and rocks. Many and varied views, sounds, textures and smells help your child integrate their sensory input and make meaning of what they experience.
· Create Safe Spaces for Exploration: Indoors and outdoors, children should be able to move freely and explore without hearing “no” or “be careful” repeatedly. A safe space has covered outlets, child-friendly materials large enough to be mouthed without choking, soft elements for safe landings and adult supervision.
· Walk! Young children can walk surprisingly far when walking is a daily habit and they are able to build increasing strength. We live in a walkable community.
· Allow Children to Solve Their Own Physical Challenges: Children who develop their own solutions to maneuvering around objects, climbing over thresholds or backing up a ride-on vehicle when stuck build greater confidence in their abilities than children who are picked up and repositioned.
For more information, links and suggestions, see the Partnership for a Healthier America (www.ahealthieramerica.org) or speak with your child’s teachers.