Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Movement is life. When we reach a certain age, we talk a lot about the importance of exercise and being active. Movement for our little ones is just as critical.

Webster’s dictionary describes movement as an act of changing physical location. Through such activities our children learn about the world around them. From day one, babies are eager to move around. This natural desire helps them develop and grow at a healthy rate. If we limit their movement, they will still continue to develop but at a slower rate and in a frustrated manner. Newborn babies start by moving their arms and legs, then begin to reach and pick up favorite toys. Later they roll themselves from side to side. Often adults chose to swaddle their children; however, this does not provide an opportunity for movement. Little by little, these tiny human beings learn how to sit, crawl, stand, and walk. With each new milestone they learn something new about their environment such as texture of objects, different temperatures, sounds objects can make, etc. Most of the lessons our children teach themselves happen without our help. Adults can help by not impeding children’s freedom of movement. 

  Below is a list of items which parents should consider avoiding or limiting their usage of:

1. Playpen

 A playpen is a small portable enclosure in which a child can play safely. Parents are assured by the word “safely” and allow their children to sit in playpens all day long. Most babies will start crying sooner or later. It’s important to observe their reaction because that’s how our children ask us to provide additional space for them. If your child doesn’t crawl yet, leave them on the floor instead (a thin mattress or a blanket will work great) and let them observe you, or watch passing items through the sliding glass door such as birds flying. You will notice the difference in their behavior. Most likely, such a position will keep them busy, engaged and animated longer. 
The playpen walls limit the view for our children, thus a cause for frustration in our infants.  
2. Car seat

Obviously, a car seat is a safety requirement. The definition of a car seat is a removable seat designed to hold a small child safely while riding in an automobile. What was meant to provide a safe driving experience, slowly turned into a stroller where babies spend many hours. All doctors agree that the best position for a child at any age is being on a flat firm surface. Sitting in a car seat provides poor back posture and is the opposite of a healthy flat surface. If you have to drive somewhere and your child falls asleep in the car seat, it’s totally acceptable to keep them there for some time, but when you take them for a walk,if possible, take a regular stroller. 

3. Jumper/Walker 

What is the purpose of a jumper or walker? Those who purchase them, assume that they will support the child in learning to walk. I personally see jumpers as frames with a seat on a set of wheels. These are counterproductive in strengthening the muscles and legs of children. . Consider instead walking wagons, which allow children to push carts at their own pace, as they support little children and help them to take steps on their own. Both of my children loved these wagon carts and took turns sitting as passengers while the other would walk them around for hours.
Also, jumpers are usually introduced at the time when children start to sit up. The next natural stage for them is to learn how to crawl but not jump or walk. Thus jumpers do not support a child’s innate developmental progression of sitting, crawling, and then walking.   
4. Baby swing 

 Swings are fun! The problem with them is our babies fall asleep easily and then stay inside the swings for hours. As mentioned earlier, it is crucial for children to spend time on a flat surface. This is the main reason I recommend avoiding swings for the little babies. If your child is past twenty four months of age and wants to be swung in your local park, it’s a great experience to have. Let them swing and go as high as they want! 

5. Stroller

 There is nothing inherently wrong with strollers. Today there are many fancy and comfortable models to choose from. The main point here is there comes a moment where our children need to transition out of the stroller.. Generally this is when the child is between one to two years old.. By the age of two, children have been learning to walk on their own for over six months and may even have learned to run. By keeping those active little children in the strollers we limit their movement and their spirit of curiosity. My daughter was content to walk on her own to the local park when she was 14 months old. 

Of course, the walk must be a reasonable distance (up to 300 yards) to be one-to-one with your little walker.    
Each time I see little children running around in a park, I smile. They look happy and liberated. They are supposed to be in motion. They learn when they move and they sleep and eat better after healthy amounts of movement. If a child is exemplifying irritation, poor appetite, or many temper tantrums consider adding more walks and movement in their routine, especially outdoors. There is a large probability that things will get better.

Finally let’s not forget to run and walk with our children as it is equally beneficial for our own health and well being.

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