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.

Click on the next page to find out how you can help your child through his development

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