Sports Training for Infants and Toddlers May be Dangerous

Plenty of exercise is essential to the proper upbringing of children. Active play and team sports are a great way to get your kid moving, but some people are suggesting that organized training should start younger than school age or even in toddlerhood. Babies as young as six months old are exercising and using fitness DVDs. Is this cutting-edge-genius or is it a classic case of good advice taken too far? Doreen Bolhuis, a fitness coach from Michigan, has created GymTrix. GymTrix provides babies and toddlers with the opportunity to develop sports-like skills through exercise DVDs.

Many professionals are against the idea of sports training for children so young. Dr. Lyle Micheli has made no secret of his disdain for the trend. He sees no benefits to subjecting such young children to exercise DVDs. He actually fears that it may produce more “overuse injury” among children. Former NBA player Bob Bigelow gives his opinion as well, saying “this is Baby Mozart stuff; you play Mozart for the baby in utero and it comes out some sort of fine arts major,” he said. “There are millions of American parents worried to death that their children might fall behind somebody else’s kid. So the emphasis in youth sports has become more, more, more, younger, younger, younger.”

The thing is, there’s nothing wrong with trying to coordinate an active lifestyle for your child. It seems only natural to start in infancy by taking them for walks and encouraging them to rollover, crawl, walk, run, jump and spin in circles. Team sports and family play-time are great bonding experiences as well as fabulous opportunities for exercise.

My concern is that “active play” in this case could easily turn into a nicer way of saying, “I expect my children to run faster, be stronger, and always win.” Kids face an enormous amount of pressure as it is and our unreasonable expectations can have a way of translating into harmful messages of insufficiency.

Baby fitness DVDs may help eliminate the obesity epidemic but what good will it do if we trade it in for something just as bad? Feelings of insufficiency can manifest terribly in the mind of a child. I just feel like the whole idea is dangerously close to a line that shouldn’t be crossed. What do you think? Will baby-fitness be among your family’s New Year’s Resolutions or do you find the idea to be ludicrous?

Via: The New York Times

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