Babies: Stimulating Physical Development – Part 1

Before Gavin was born, hubby and I always joked about how we were going to train him to become the world’s next golf sensation.  The intention was to introduce him to golf when he turned two.  Unfortunately, Gavin showed no inclination for golf, or other physical activities for that matter.  Hubby says it was because all I did when he was little was take him to shopping malls.  I didn’t take him out to the park enough.  In my defense, the tropical climate here isn’t exactly the most conducive for outdoor activities.  It’s hot and humid and the air pollution isn’t exactly the kind of environment you want a baby exposed to either.

When I became pregnant with Gareth, I decided that I would do more to encourage physical activities for Gareth.  I went out to buy the book “How to Teach Your Baby to be Physically Superb” by Glenn Doman.  According to the book, you can start almost immediately from birth.  I have yet to read through the entire book as there are currently too many things I’m supposed to read up on, so I can’t give you an overall run down of what you should do, but I can keep you posted as I get through it stage by stage.

Although I should have started a lot earlier, I figured it’s better late than never.  So at five weeks, the first thing I’ve started to encourage Gareth to do is crawl.  According to Doman, we too often put babies in positions that prevent their physical development because those positions restrict baby’s movements.  To encourage movement, you need to put your baby into a position that encourages movement – in other words, baby needs to be on his tummy.

If you put a baby on his tummy, you’ll notice that he starts to flail his arms and legs which helps him to move.  Initially, he’ll move backwards, but eventually, he will learn to move himself forwards.  By giving baby adequate tummy time, he has the opportunity to learn which movements help to move his body in specific directions.  This is essentially the process of learning to crawl, however, Doman recommends encouraging this development as early as possible – from birth.  Gavin didn’t really learn to crawl until he was about nine or ten months old and I recall we were only encouraging tummy time when he began to show an inclination to move towards objects of his desire.

I started Gareth with tummy time today and helped him propel himself forwards by providing a barrier against his feet with my hands.  Gareth would kick out against my hands and that movement alone was sufficient to help him move forwards.  It was interesting to note that Gareth seemed to do this a lot better than Gavin did months later.  With just one session of tummy time, Gareth appears to have achieved more than Gavin did after several sessions of tummy time.  Taken in isolation, this would support Doman’s theory that a child’s developmental capacity is greatest at birth and slowly begins to decline the older they grow.

In summary, to encourage your baby’s physical development give your baby more tummy time and start from birth.  Minimise your baby’s time spent on his back, stuck in playpens and other restrictive confines.  To encourage physical development, your baby needs to move, and in order to move, your baby needs freedom to move.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

4 thoughts on “Babies: Stimulating Physical Development – Part 1

  1. I agree that tummy time is absolutely important for infants, especially for those who sleep on their back.

    My post-natal nurse encouraged me to give baby tummy time twice a day (5-10 minutes each) since an early stage, then later we progressed to giving him support at the feet to crawl forward, and then helping him learn crawling by rolling his tummy over a bolster.

    The boy started crawling backward at 5+ months and forward at 7 months. (He was suddenly so mobile that he fell over our mattress, flat on his face on the floor, too fast for me to catch him.) For his safety, we bought a LARGE play-yard as his safety zone, and give him a lot of time to move and play freely whenever we can watch him closely.

    Be prepared for a very active baby soon! 🙂


  2. I think part of the reason I didn’t really give Gavin a lot of tummy time in the early days was because he always seemed unhappy on his tummy. After today, I think the key is to offer tummy time when baby is ready for it. Then again, Gavin was the sort of baby who wasn’t so keen on developing movement…

    Previously, when I put Gareth on his tummy, it was first thing in the morning after he’d woken up. He seemed quite happy to try to propel himself forwards. Today, I did it in the late afternoon because I was busy in the morning and Gareth was most unhappy. I guess it was because he was tired because he didn’t seem keen to move at all.

    Gareth is already showing goods signs of being an active baby. He surprised us by turning over from his back onto his front while in his sleep in the week after he came home from hospital. I think his ability to turn over so early is because he’s a big baby and quite well developed physically already. Even now he already has good neck support and is holding his own head. He started to lift up his head when we were still in hospital.

    Yes, we need to be extra vigilant. When they start moving, they can move really fast. Gavin was generally very cautious so we didn’t really have too much anxiety over him hurting himself. It remains to be seen what kind of child Gareth turns out to be…


  3. Big babies certainly seem to have a slight advantage at first. My boy lifted his head and turned it from side to side when undergoing phototherapy on his tummy. We were amazed!

    I agree with trying new activities with babies when they ate on a receptive mood, e.g. freshly awake from a nap and well-fed.


  4. Something else I read which I should have added to this post – part of the reason why they encourage starting physical activity from birth is because baby stacks on as much as 35% of their weight in the first two months which seriously hampers physical development especially if you’re starting physical activity two months down the line. If you start at birth, baby will have built up some muscle to cope with the extra weight…


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