Before Gavin was born, hubby and I always joked about how we were going to train him to become the world’s next golf sensation. The intention was to introduce him to golf when he turned two. Unfortunately, Gavin showed no inclination for golf, or other physical activities for that matter. Hubby says it was because all I did when he was little was take him to shopping malls. I didn’t take him out to the park enough. In my defense, the tropical climate here isn’t exactly the most conducive for outdoor activities. It’s hot and humid and the air pollution isn’t exactly the kind of environment you want a baby exposed to either.
When I became pregnant with Gareth, I decided that I would do more to encourage physical activities for Gareth. I went out to buy the book “How to Teach Your Baby to be Physically Superb” by Glenn Doman. According to the book, you can start almost immediately from birth. I have yet to read through the entire book as there are currently too many things I’m supposed to read up on, so I can’t give you an overall run down of what you should do, but I can keep you posted as I get through it stage by stage.
Although I should have started a lot earlier, I figured it’s better late than never. So at five weeks, the first thing I’ve started to encourage Gareth to do is crawl. According to Doman, we too often put babies in positions that prevent their physical development because those positions restrict baby’s movements. To encourage movement, you need to put your baby into a position that encourages movement – in other words, baby needs to be on his tummy.
If you put a baby on his tummy, you’ll notice that he starts to flail his arms and legs which helps him to move. Initially, he’ll move backwards, but eventually, he will learn to move himself forwards. By giving baby adequate tummy time, he has the opportunity to learn which movements help to move his body in specific directions. This is essentially the process of learning to crawl, however, Doman recommends encouraging this development as early as possible – from birth. Gavin didn’t really learn to crawl until he was about nine or ten months old and I recall we were only encouraging tummy time when he began to show an inclination to move towards objects of his desire.
I started Gareth with tummy time today and helped him propel himself forwards by providing a barrier against his feet with my hands. Gareth would kick out against my hands and that movement alone was sufficient to help him move forwards. It was interesting to note that Gareth seemed to do this a lot better than Gavin did months later. With just one session of tummy time, Gareth appears to have achieved more than Gavin did after several sessions of tummy time. Taken in isolation, this would support Doman’s theory that a child’s developmental capacity is greatest at birth and slowly begins to decline the older they grow.
In summary, to encourage your baby’s physical development give your baby more tummy time and start from birth. Minimise your baby’s time spent on his back, stuck in playpens and other restrictive confines. To encourage physical development, your baby needs to move, and in order to move, your baby needs freedom to move.