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Exercises for Young Children
Infants (Birth to 12 months)
- Lay your infant on a blanket on the floor with a few toys.
- Provide brightly colored, easy-to-grasp toys that can be squeezed or have different textures to encourage reaching and grasping.
- Place the infant on his tummy facing you, encourage him to lift his head and kick his legs.
- When the baby is learning to roll over, hold a favorite toy just out of reach to motivate him to keep trying.
- Play peek-a-boo or patty-cake; help move your child's hands so he learns the motions.
- Carry the child to a new environment, set him down, and let him explore. Be sure the area is baby-proofed.
- Avoid allowing your baby to watch TV.
Toddlers (12 to 36 months)
- Bounce, throw, and chase balls to develop hand-eye coordination . Use soft balls that will not break anything.
- Dance to music and follow-along songs to promote body awareness and balance.
- Play "Simon Says" and "Follow the Leader."
- Provide safe, sturdy objects to ride, push, pull, balance on, and climb.
Make chores into games that kids can help with, for example:
- During dinner preparation, have him carry something to the table that will not break or spill.
- On laundry day, have him throw dirty clothes into the laundry basket
Preschoolers (3 to 5 years)
- To promote balance, help the child walk along a line on the ground. Be sure that it is a safe area with no cars around.
- Lay out objects to create a maze or tell a child to run around a tree and back, providing vigorous exercise plus mastering turns and balance.
- Around age three, children learn to hop and are ready for the game "hopscotch," which will promote balance and strengthen leg muscles.
- Around age four, kids learn to skip; practice skipping with them across the yard, or work it into a game of "Follow the Leader."
- Provide safe objects to ride, push, pull, balance on, and climb.
For Kids of Any Age
American Academy of Pediatrics http://www.aap.org/
National Association for Sport & Physical Education http://www.aahperd.org/
About Kids Health http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/
Healthy Living Unit http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/pau-uap/fitness/
Active star: A statement of physical activity guidelines for children from birth to age 5. National Association for Sport & Physical Education website. Available at: http://www.aahperd.org/naspe/standards/nationalGuidelines/ActiveStart.cfm. Accessed June 11, 2012.
NHLBI integrated guidelines for pediatric cardiovascular risk reduction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/ . Updated February 28, 2012. Accessed July 13, 2012.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 05/2012
- Update Date: 07/13/2012