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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 their tummy facing you, encourage them to lift their head and kick their legs.
- When the baby is learning to roll over, hold a favorite toy just out of reach to motivate them to keep trying.
- Play peek-a-boo or patty-cake; help move your child's hands so they learns the motions.
- Carry the child to a new environment, set them down, and let them explore. Be sure the area is safe.
- 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 your child carry something to the table that will not break or spill.
- On laundry day, have your child 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
American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance http://www.aahperd.org
About Kids Health http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca
Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
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 March 3, 2014.
NHLBI integrated guidelines for pediatric cardiovascular risk reduction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 12, 2013. Accessed March 3, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 03/2014
- Update Date: 03/03/2014