Physical Fitness From Birth to 18 Months

All parts appear to be in proper working order.  Food goes in and food comes out.  Baby sleeps, cries, watches her world, eats  and the process starts over again.  Baby waves his arms and kicks his legs.  Baby begins to communicate her likes and dislikes: yes to car rides, no to be left alone.  Yes to snuggles, no to sudden noises.

From our Washington State Early Learning and Development Benchmark folks, it is never too early to think about PHYSICAL FITNESS.  Even from Birth to 18 months.

So here are their Lists of Benchmarks for Physical Fitness, with the goal: Children demonstrate the stamina and energy to participate in daily activities.

Some Indicators for Children:

  • moves arms and legs easily
  • creeps, crawls, then walks as a primary way to move around.
  • pushes and/or pulls age-appropriate toys.
  • Moves with ease from one place to another.

Some Strategies for Caregivers:

  • Provide adequate tummy time on the floor for infant to explore.
  • Provide time daily for child to play both inside and outside.
  • Support and encourage child’s attempts to roll over, sit, crawl, then walk.
  • Model daily physical activities (e.g., walking, running, lifting.)

Remember that when infants are trying to explore their world, they are totally UNSAFE.  Their fingers fit so nicely into light sockets and heating registers.  I think the best thing we can do to try to help our babies be in a SAFER home, is to get down to their level, then squirm our way around the house.  I always marveled (hmm, that’s a positive way to state “YIKES!) at what a terrible housekeeper I was.  Dust bunnies had grown into full-sized goats; while all the furniture seemed to be hiding stray dog food kibble, dried orange peels and always the broken pencils.

Infants do not have the capability to learn from frustration, so help them out and don’t make them struggle to reach their goal for bodily movement.

Depending upon the child’s developmental ability, a little frustration may be helpful in learning new tasks, but not so much frustration that your child gives up.  A child who gives up in frustration has just learned that some things are not attainable through their own efforts.  This repeated early childhood scenario is often experienced again when it is time for your child to put in the work that is needed to be successful in school.

A little frustration teaches a child that immediate gratification is not always available.  This is a valuable lesson that serves us throughout our lifetimes.  But, too much frustration, and the child learns to quit before attempting to struggle.  Learning to meet challenges with the expectation of “doing my best” to be successful is crucial in living a responsible life.

And you thought this post was going to just be about physical fitness.  Isn’t it amazing how all our “parts” are somehow hooked together in one way or another?

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