With obesity rates in children climbing, it’s important to encourage kids to embrace a healthy, active lifestyle, even when they’re really young – babies benefit from exercise too!

But getting an infant to move doesn’t have to involve vigorous athletic training or even a formal class. Any physical activity that they enjoy at their own pace will benefit them. The goal is not to get a buff baby but to help children establish healthy lifestyles that they continue into adulthood. Studies show that children who maintain a daily regimen that includes exercise are less likely to suffer from obesity-related problems when they’re older.

With that in mind, here are 6 tips to get your baby moving:

  1. Make sure physical activity is integrated into their daily lives. 
  2. Modeling active behavior helps establish routine and is as important as providing activities. Developing a healthy lifestyle at a very young age is really developing an interest and a willingness to be active.
  3. Make sure you go outside regularly. Being outside in the fresh air, near the trees and in the park really encourages activity because there are so many different sights and sounds to stimulate your baby’s curiosity and movement. 
  4. Make sure the setting is comfortable – lighting, temperature, and even sound to make it fun and create positive associations with physical activity.
  5. Turn off the television as much as possible. The more screens you have going on inside the house, the less likely it is that you’re moving around.
  6. Place baby in crib for rest only. As infants learn and develop, it’s important for them to explore, to look around, crawl and pick up things, in a safe environment. Laying babies down when it’s time to rest contributes to establishing sleep schedules while teaching that it is normal to move around and do things when awake.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lee Beers Lee Beers, MD, is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and the Medical Director for Community Health and Advocacy within the Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health and Child Health Advocacy Institute at Children’s National Hospital.

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