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Infant - Month #44

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Should I Take Him Out to the Ball Game?

By Lindsey Hill, edHelperBaby

Your Little Athlete
           Your little one hops, skips, and jumps around the house and the backyard. He swings from the monkey bars, spins on the tire swing, and slides down backwards on the slide. You just know he's ready for a team or individual sport and whatever your motivation, you sign him up for the first opportunity and discuss the excitement of the first practice or game with him everyday until the beginning.


An Eye on the Issue
           Encouraging your child to join an organized sport, whether an individual or team, supports your child's physical, social, and cognitive learning abilities. He not only learns to play fairly with children his own age but he also makes new friends, increases his self-esteem, and, most importantly, exercises his growing body, channeling his energy toward a healthy habit. Skills that are important for all of life's stages such as teamwork, discipline, goal setting, and sportsmanship are also taught through organized sports instruction. Don't forget that all children develop at different stages, so side with your child's natural abilities before signing him up for any sporting event.       

       It's important to keep in mind as well that organized sports are not the only way to teach your child these life skills. As long as your child is involved in healthy physical activity each day, a healthy lifestyle will be established. And never force your child to be a part of an organized sporting event, but do encourage that he see it through to the end of the season even if it takes a little incentive.


Just Try It
           Children love physical activity, especially when Mommy or Daddy is involved. Swimming, tee ball at the park, soccer games in the cul-de-sac, whiffleball games in the backyard, or tumbling in the lawn will all show your child that physical activity is enjoyable! Give some of these activities a try before you sign your little one up and pay for sporting activities to see where her natural abilities lie.
  • After finding a plastic tee for tee ball and a bat at a garage sale or local toy store, take turns hitting the ball from the tee and see who can hit it the farthest.
  • Race from one side of the yard to another (but not too far) and award each other with a huge hug at the end of the race.
  • Play a game of hopscotch on the sidewalk. Allow your child to help create the game board with chalk and pick out the best rocks to use for keeping track of positions.
  • Be the spotter while your child attempts to cross the monkey bars. Try to cross the monkey bars yourself while your child pretends to spot you.
  • Play in the pool together; jump off the side, tumble in circles underwater, spin in circles above the water while holding hands, or throw a ball back and forth to splash one another.
  • Put on some dancing music and dance around the room or outside. Make up your own dance moves and teach them to each other.
  • Spin a hula hoop around your waist as many times as you can while your child counts. Do the same for her.
  • Practice jumping rope while you chant different songs together, making them up as you jump.
  • Go on a bike ride (with training wheels) and let your child be the leader (while minding safety rules).
  • Play a game of croquet in the backyard and practice adding the scores.
  • Toss a large bouncy ball back and forth while counting the number of times you catch it without dropping the ball.

       The best part about all of these activities is the togetherness you get with your child as you laugh, sing, and cheer each other on.


Parent Chit Chat
           Deciding which sports team to sign our son to last fall and this summer seemed to consume our every move. Should he do soccer with his preschool friends, or should I encourage swimming lessons with his cousin? One thing I knew for sure was to consider his schedule and my own and only sign him up for what our family could handle.       

       Our son played on a soccer league when he was two with a family friend and joined a tee ball team when he was three. Both experiences were tough on both my husband and me because typically he would not want to go; he whined when we required him to play and often pouted until the end of the practice. After several discussions with other parents on the teams, we realized we were not alone. This behavior was typical of this age group no matter which sporting event we chose, but was crucial for supporting a healthy lifestyle as the child grew. We learned, most importantly, to keep our expectations at a minimum; tears will happen, lack of interest will occur, and plopping down on his rump would take place. Once we realized these actions would occur, my husband and I enjoyed ourselves, and we were eager to sign him up again.


Book Basket
           Open the pages of these unique learning books aimed for infants to age five!
  • Sports A to Z; David Diehl
  • Home Run! My Baseball Book; David Diehl
  • Touchdown! My Football Book; David Diehl
  • Goal! My Soccer Book; David Diehl
  • Slam Dunk! My Basketball Book; David Diehl
  • My Baseball Book; Gail Gibbons
  • My Soccer Book; Gail Gibbons
  • My Football Book; Gail Gibbons
  • My Basketball Book; Gail Gibbons
  • Billy's Big Game; Paul Harrison
  • Dora: Go, Team, Go; Phoebe Beinstein


Exploration Station

       Check out the baseball activity book as well as many other reproducible activities and books geared toward your three-year-old at our edHelper site. This book could help spark a discussion before, during, or after signing your child up for a team or individual sport whether it's baseball, gymnastics, or karate.       

       Also, pick up the children's author Gail Gibbons' series of sports related books at your local library or bookstore to motivate and teach your child about a variety of sports.


Food For Thought
           Since high energy foods such as carbohydrates fuel muscles to perform at their best, it's important to feed your child these types of foods before and after sporting events. Energy bars and sports drinks offer the types of energy boosting nutrients regular foods can supply but are only more convenient for today's society, not healthier. However, never replace your child's meals with performance foods or drinks; a balanced diet is enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Try some of these foods for high energy kids:
  • Bananas
  • Dried fruit and nut mixes
  • Fresh fruit ice pops
  • Kiwi
  • Beef jerky
  • Melon
  • Sweet potato fries
  • Tomatoes topped with Swiss or mozzarella cheese
  • Wheat based pastas and cheese
  • Whole wheat bread with peanut butter and low sugar jelly
  • Zucchini or banana bread
  • Yogurt or "Go Gurts" by Yoplait-frozen is even better
  • Water, water, water and lots of it!


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