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From the Cradle to the Gym: When Moms Push Toddlers in Sports

From the Cradle to the Gym: When Moms Push Toddlers in Sports

A baby's milestones are the things memory books, photo albums and Facebook sites are made of. But in today's ultra-competitive world, first steps, first words and sleeping schedules can take a back seat to baby's gymnastics feats or sports training schedule.

As reported in Today, moms are shuttling their babies and toddlers to gyms and showing them special DVDs to train their athletic sensibilities even before their first birthdays, all to get a head start on the athletic front. To meet the demand, as the New York Times reports, a plethora of new sports training programs for kids as young as as six months are popping up around the country.

Doreen Bolhuis, founder of GymTrix in Grand Rapids, MI. tells the New York Times, "The younger the better... With the babies in our family, I start working them out in the hospital."

Through programs like Bolhuis's, budding infant athletes jump, kick and practice baseball skills, accompanied by their doting parents, who hold their child's hands on the bat during batting practice. The goal is to give them a jump start in athletics, Bolhuis explains. "We hear all the time from families that have been with us, 'Our kids are superstars when they're in middle school and they get into sports."

Moms in Grand Rapids are not the only ones in on the action: several Circle of Moms members have shared stories about getting their kids involved in sports earlier than ever. Gigi F., who is an Olympic gold medalist and a member of the sports moms community, has even created her own series of baby sports DVDs (Baby Goes Pro).

"How early is too early to start developing athletic talent?" she asks. Her DVDs introduce babies and toddlers to baseball, soccer, golf and tennis with the intention of "inspiring a generation to move" by through visuals that teach kicking and swinging. Her own twins began watching the videos when they were nine months old, and by the time they were 13 months, were kicking balls when most kids that age just want to pick them up.

"I think it's not a bad idea to get babies started early," comments Jennifer M, who takes her baby to a gym that teaches gymnastics as general motor skills.

And Melissa C. says that there are definite benefits to pushing kids into sports before they can walk: namely that it will improve future athletic prowess. "I believe that there are children who are ready before others," she says, adding that her three -year-old "can handle his lacrosse stick ten times better than some kids two years older than him. He can whack a baseball without using a tee. His hand-eye coordination is awesome. His teachers tell me all the time about how well he can kick a rolling ball and catch and throw."

But many other Circle of Moms members seem startled that the age of entry into sports training has dipped so low.

According to one, Maria O., pushing kids too early into sports can backfire. "One has to be very careful at pushing the child at a very young age," she says. "The child should show an interest first, then love and enjoy the game. The harder an adult pushes, the more adamant the child pushes away from the game if they no longer find it fun. The fun and excitement, I believe has to be nurtured for the child to keep the love of the game."

Princess W. agrees. "I think the key is nurturing their interest and not pushing it," she says. "With my first I tried to push him into getting involved with a lot of sports early. " She reports it backfired and her son didn't want to play any sports for a while. "I think it is best to wait until they are ready."

Image Source: TLGCorvallis via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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Join The Conversation
KristalMcCoy KristalMcCoy 3 years
Why can't we just let kids be kids?? If they show interest in something, then by all means let them have a go at it! But how about we let them decide what it is they want to try? I have a 1 year old who loves kicking around a ball, maybe when he's old enough we'll give soccer a go. My 3 year old daughter wants to go into dancing so we'll be trying that out this fall and she wanted to try soccer so we're starting soccer this month. There is a point that too much activity can be bad for them, they might be able to learn a lot at a young age but why would we want them to hurry up and grow up??
wolfcat87 wolfcat87 3 years
I put my daughter into ballet at 2.5 years old and she was ready for it. She does soccer in spring and fall since she was 3, and we push her hard on that and she's one of the best players. She did t-ball for fun one season when she was 4 (it wasn't organized enough so we won't be doing it again). Our son wanted to start ballet when he was 2, but he didn't grasp the class or being away from mommy concepts enough to go into class until just after he was 3. When he did join, he was the best from watching his sister do it for 2 years. He loves soccer, but he just likes to run after the other kids. They both started gymnastics this year and love it. I push my daughter hard because, like me, she does better with a good push. She loves the classes even more after being pushed because she gets more attention for doing better. She loves being the center of attention. Next year she starts kindergarten and we'll be trying to add 4H and another class (music, yoga, tae kwon do, etc.) I want to have them in as many classes as they'd like and as many as they can stand and still do well in school and at all of their lessons. This is the time in their life when they learn best so why not? My husband and I aren't as healthy as we'd like to be and giving our kids a head start on physical fitness and teaching them valuable talents is something no one can really object to.
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