Whether the parent is a champion powerlifter or the proud owner of the father’s bodysuit, it’s a great idea to introduce the benefits of exercise to your child early on. However, while infant physical activity has far-reaching benefits, during the first six months, infants cannot support their own head. No amount of weighted chin-ups or barbell neck raises can beat nature here, so it’s best to wait until a child can lift an old canopy before embarking on a serious training regimen.
It’s safe to assume that most babies will be ready at around six months of age. “The more physical activity you can do with an infant, the more opportunities they will have to develop a solid foundation of physical skills,” says Dr. Steven Sanders, a professor at the University of South Florida College of Education and author of Encouraging Infant Physical Activity. “Children learn about their body and environment by moving around, and the more they can be physically active, the better.”
For babies, movement and exploration are essential to building a solid foundation for childhood and beyond. “We know from research that infants and toddlers who have developed a strong base of motor skills tend to use those skills to be physically active as adults,” says Sanders. “Children who do not acquire these motor skills are more likely to have difficulty with physical activity throughout their lives.”