Why movement is crucial for your baby's early development and how you can support it

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Your little ones are growing fast; in fact they are growing even faster on the inside. Their brains are developing at an incredible rate and need the correct nutrition and stimulus to help support optimal development.

While we focus a lot on correct nutrition and right interaction to develop cognition, we often overlook the role of movement in the development of our children’s brains.

A moving baby is a learning baby

Early childhood research now recognises the critical role physical movement plays in optimal brain development. To ensure that your child derives the maximum benefit, movement experiences should be introduced right from the very beginning, during what are described as “windows of opportunity” -- the time periods when positive experiences may be most beneficial in the developmental process.

Stimulation to the brain in the form of movement and sensory experiences helps the brain to strengthen and bond its synapses (the connections between the neurons) and this supports the brain to complete its architecture. (Greenough & Black, 1992; Shatz, 1992).

If a child misses receiving the correct stimulus (movement) during the appropriate window of opportunity (they begin opening before birth and then narrow as a child grows older) then her brain may not develop its circuitry to its fullest potential for a specific function such as feelings, language, vision or motor control.

Movement is therefore vital to the development of the brain’s circuitry in the earliest years. Movement can help children develop, not only motorically but emotionally and socially as well. So let your baby crawl, roll, jump, and slither!

In addition, movement also allows a child to explore her environment and gain experience and knowledge of the world around her.

Children whose early childhood learning focusses on movement:

  • Have better social and motor skill development
  • Show increased school readiness skills
  • Developing muscles, bones, and joints faster
  • Have reduced chances of depression and anxiety
  • Demonstrate increased learning capacity

Active children also have a lower propensity to develop chronic health issues.

Move baby move!

It is important to remember that during movement activities, the whole child benefits, not simply the arms, legs, and lungs.

To help parents understand and focus on the kind of movement necessary for their little ones’ brain development, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), USA has come up certain guidelines. These guidelines list appropriate movement activities that children from birth to age five should engage in daily.

Infants (Birth–12 months)

  • Infants should interact with parents and/or caregivers in daily physical activities that are dedicated to promoting the exploration of their environment.
  • Infants should be placed in safe settings that facilitate physical activity and do not restrict movement for prolonged periods of time.
  • Infants’ physical activity should promote the development of movement skills.
  • Infants should have an environment that meets or exceeds recommended safety standards for performing large muscle activities.
  • Individuals responsible for the well being of infants should be aware of the importance of physical activity and facilitate the child’s movement skills.

What can you do?

  • Provide colourful and moving mobiles over the cribs to allow then to reach and grasp or kick with their feet.
  • Encourage them play “come and get” toys within crawling or reaching distance.
  • Encourage them to play with large blocks, stacking toys, nesting cups, textured balls, and squeeze toys.
  • You can encourage your child’s free movement by graduating him from regular diapers into well-fitted pants diapers as early as 6 months. Well-fitted pants diapers are more comfortable and allow ease of movement that the regular diapers don’t.

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Toddlers (12-36 months) 

  • Toddlers should accumulate at least 30 minutes daily of structured physical activity.
  • Toddlers should engage in at least 60 minutes and up to several hours per day of daily, unstructured physical activity and should not be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time except when sleeping.
  • Toddlers should develop movement skills that are building blocks for more complex movement tasks.
  • Toddlers should have indoor and outdoor areas that meet or exceed recommended safety standards for performing large muscle activities.
  • Individuals responsible for the well-being of toddlers should be aware of the importance of physical activity and facilitate the child’s movement skills.

What can you do?

  • Introduce basic gross motor skills through colouring, catching, kicking etc.
  • Encourage them to play with manipulatives, such as building blocks, rings, and large puzzles.
  • Give them opportunity to develop their fine-motor skills by encouraging them to participate in activities that require pinching movements.
  • Ensure that your now active toddler is now wearing a well fitted and comfortable pants diaper to encourage easy movement.

Watch the video below to see what some mums look for in their baby's diaper.

Encourage free movement

Remember, movement is one of the most fundamental aspects of a child’s life. You need to allow your child free and unrestrictive movement to allow her a more enjoyable moving experience.

Putting your child in a well fitting and comfortable diaper encourages active movement and thus makes a positive difference to baby’s learning process. Diapers are not just about convenience but can also benefit your child in her learning development. So get your little one into well-fitted pants as soon as you can.

Drypers Drypantz (M – XXL) allows your baby to move freely, and thus can help support this early development.

Choose wisely mums, remember a moving baby is a learning baby.

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Click here to request a free sample.

Drypers Drypantz (M – XXL) is the pants diaper range in the Drypers family. Activ-Core™ present in the diaper allows for quick absorption of urine, prevents flow-back, and provides long-lasting dryness. Comfort Fit™  in the pants diaper is made up of a particularly soft waistband that hugs baby snugly. The pants diaper comes with 100% breathable soft cloth-like cover ensures that baby’s skin is kept cool and fresh.

 
References
Chugani, H.T. (1998). A critical period of brain development: Studies of cerebral glucose utilization with PET. Preventive Medicine, 27, 184-188. 
Greenough, W. T., & Black, J. E. (1992). Induction of brain structure by experience: Substrates for cognitive development. In M. Gunnar & C. Nelson (Eds.), Minnesota Symposia on Child Psychology. Vol. 24, Developmental Behavioral Neuroscience (p. 155-200).
National Association for Sport and Physical Education. (2002).Active Start: A Statement of Physical Activity Guidelines for Children Birth to Five Years. Reston, VA: NASPE.
Shatz, C. (1992). The developing brain. Scientific American. September, 3-9.