Physical Development in Early Childhood: The first three years of life are characterized by dramatic changes in children’s physical abilities.
Ways to Boost Physical Development in Early Childhood
Parents, caregivers, and teachers can support young children to develop the abilities they will need to learn to walk, run, and engage in other physical activities.
Babies need to spend time on their bellies to develop the chest and arm strength that they’ll soon use in crawling.
Adults can encourage babies to develop these muscles by giving them adequate tummy time and by placing interesting toys just within reach.
It’s also important that babies have as much time as possible to move freely, unrestricted by baby seats, playpens, or exercises.
When adults move with a baby, the baby feels a sensation of motion. This helps them to understand how bodies move through space.
Adults can help this understanding develop by rocking babies, taking them for walks, and dancing with them.
When children first start walking, their stride is unsteady and variable, and falls are common.
Parents and caregivers can help toddlers develop solid walking and then running skills by providing lots of
opportunities for toddlers to move in different ways throughout the day.
Toddlers will master walking and running skills more quickly if they can experiment with walking on different types of surfaces, such as soft mats and then hard floors.
Adults can help by providing different walking challenges, such as walking on a soft balance beam, and walking or running up and down hills. Encouraging toddlers to try moving in new ways will support their physical development.
A simple, inexpensive obstacle course is a great way to challenge toddlers to try new ways of moving.
As toddlers master these skills, they will gain confidence in their own abilities.