Watching our babies grow, it’s easy to fantasize about what they will be when they get older. If we are athletes or athletic, there is a natural tendency to want to get our children involved in sports as well. There are many benefits to being active, however, the age at which we start should be considered.
When our babies and toddlers are rolling around the house and gripping and pulling and jumping around, that is the type of “sports” that they should be doing. Organized sports or training, when they are too young, is not recommended by most pediatricians or The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. And they know something about the benefits and dangers of getting young children involved in sports too soon.
If your hopes and dreams entail you watching them spike a volleyball, score on a soccer field or run a football into the end zone, you are not alone. But if it is pulling at you so hard that you have purchased equipment and are encouraging them to play while they are still in the crib, you’re jumping ahead a little.
During these early stages of life, they should be focused on activities that increase their motor skills, movement, curiosity and just having fun being active. Their love for your sport can very well come in time, and if they are not bombarded with it early on, they may naturally find their passion for it on their own. In the meantime, as they get older and are able to join teams, expose them to all types of sports and games to give them some well-rounded opportunities and see where they naturally progress.
Being practical for a moment, everything that a baby touches goes into their mouths. Little baby footballs, baseball gloves, and running shoes may be cute, but their effectiveness as sports equipment is lost when they become just another baby chew toy.
No matter what, have fun with your child during all their stages of growth and never take sports more seriously than your connection to your child.