Monday, May 5, 2014

Sports guide – 0 to 3 years old

Healthy living entails playing sports and keeping fit. Finding a sport that suits your child can be easy if they are naturally inclined to physical activities. However, even if your child is a born athlete, the sport that he/she plays carries a certain amount of risks and can be potentially damaging in the future? For example, bowling can affect the growth structure of your thumb and volleyball players often get chronic knee problems. In this first edition of our sports guide, we give you recommendations on the sports that are suitable for infants between the ages of 0 to 3.

1. Splashing in the pool
Babies are said to be fond of and are comfortable in being in a water-filled environment, given that they had spent 9 months living in a sphere of amniotic fluid. Having your body fully or partially submerged under water is the closest one can ever come to experiencing zero gravity. With gravity out of the way, an infant’s motor coordination can improve as the limbs are able to move with greater freedom.

“The best time to start teaching a child to swim is shortly after birth, when you can start bathing your baby,” said Esther Andrews , former principal of the School for Gifted Education, adding that a very young baby will benefit from swimming lessons, and will enjoy them at this age. Swimming will also help develop the baby’s neck and leg muscles, coordination, and most importantly, the lungs.

How to prepare your baby for swimming
Before you sign them up for swimming lessons, be sure to get them accustomed to staying in water for a prolonged period of time. Start with a few easy swimming actions, for example during bath time (in a bath tub preferably):
Make splashes in water
Show them how to blow bubbles in water
Encourage them to kick their legs
Blow into their face to let them practice holding their breath
If your baby has allergies or respiratory problems, do consult a paediatrician first before plunging them into the pool.
 2. Working out in the Kids Gym
Yes, believe it or not, there are gyms specially built for infants. However their equipments are certainly not your conventional heavy weights and treadmills. Rather, such gyms place more emphasis on the motor development of a child. These classes usually require parental participation with their child. A typical gym class generally teaches aerobic workouts and stretches to promote healthy muscle flexibility. Different gyms offer different types of courses and for different age groups hence do find out more about a gym first before registering your child.

3. Playing at the playground
At the playgrounds, kids generally exercise through play. They share a unique bond with playgrounds like no other. Be it indoor or outdoor, a playground is the haven for them to socialize and simply have fun. At 0 to 3 years old, play is a part of a baby’s daily routine and its importance can never be overstated. David Elkind, professor emeritus of child development at Tufts University, wrote that “play is instinctive and part of the maturational process” for a child.

Being infants still, much of a playground’s colourful structure will appear alien to them. As they explore the shapes and textures of the playground facilities, they are also exercising their limbs. Simple actions like climbing the playground stairs or getting up a rocking horse require effort and that is also the time when they can train their hands and legs coordination.

Infants may be wobbly and delicate, but you shouldn’t let that deter you from exposing them to the sporting realm. Research has shown that the best time to develop the motor skills of a child is before 5 years old. Get them to warm their muscles frequently so that in the future, they can pick up a sport more easily. Perhaps the best incentive of all is that sports create priceless bonding time for you and your precious little one!

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