Training Baby to Go Pro? Companies Teaching 11-Week-Olds Sports

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"Do you have the baby on a schedule yet?"

New parents may think they're being asked about their 2-month-old's sleeping patterns, but, in this ultra-competitive world, some inquiring minds want to know the frequency of the little one's gymnastics schedule.

Parents across the country who are worried their kids might fall behind on the athletic front are shuttling their babies and toddlers to gyms, or popping in DVDs to get their kids an early start in sports-related training, "Today" reports.

Entrepreneur Doreen Bolhouis, a fitness instructor in Grand Rapids, Mich., is shown on "Today" teaching an 11-week-old how to twist. "Do you want to go upside down again?" she asks the infant.

"With the babies in our family, I start working them out at the hospital," Bolhouis, founder of GymTrix, a company that offers a library of sports training for babies, and Gymco, a sports training center, tells The New York Times.

She writes on her blog that she knows teaching sports to babies may sound crazy to some.

"In fact, adults have a responsibility to teach babies and toddlers sports skills," Bolhouis writes. "How many adults and teenagers do you know who watch from the sidelines because no one ever taught them how to be active. Sad, right? And preventable."

The growing competition in marketing baby sports DVDs includes companies with names like Athletic Baby and Baby Goes Pro, The Times reports.

But many naysayers warn parents to put the brakes on the race to the sports field.

"Younger, younger and younger is never, never better," Bob Bigelow, a former NBA player, tells "Today," adding that he is strongly against competitive sports for young children.

Other experts agree.

"It is absolutely critical for child development for children to have fun and free play experiences," Brooke de Lench, founder and editor-in-chief of MomsTeam.com, herself a mom of triplet boys, tells "Today." "They don't need adults teaching them rules like don't kick the ball."

She offers the following tips for parents who are interested in "sports" classes for babies and toddlers:

  • Go and observe the class before you bring your child; kids should be active and happy, not waiting around.
  • Don't trust anyone who makes promises about turning your baby or toddler into a pro athlete.
  • Look for classes with an emphasis on having fun, not following rules.
  • Realize your child will develop physical abilities on his or her own timeline, no matter how much "training" they get.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.