Earlier this year Sally Goddard Blythe, director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology in Chester, spoke at a ‘What About The Children? (WATCh?)’ Charity conference.
A renowned author, Sally’s books and articles focus on the importance of physical development for learning. In her talk she concentrated on the early years, explaining how physical development lays the foundation for emotional and mental development.
‘Attention, balance and co-ordination skills learned during the first 36 months of life support cognitive learning and have been linked to performance on SATs at school.
‘Infants need opportunity for free movement and exploration, whether that is tummy time, cuddling or rough play.’
You can read the report of her lecture here.
We spoke to adoptive mum-of-two, Louisa West, 32. Louisa adopted a brother and sister last year. She spoke with us about her experiences and how lack of movement still affects her children.
‘The oldest is now five and her physical skills when she came to us were, and still are, below average for her age due to the fact that she was kept in a pushchair until she was three. It wasn’t until she was fostered that she started to learn to walk. Even now, it’s only in the last six months that her balance and stability have progressed closer to her younger brother’s – he’s four.
‘He was 14 months younger when taken into care, and therefore started walking that bit earlier. It’s clear this helped him to progress quicker - walking/ pedaling/ running. He is a much more active child, he jumps around, walks on tip toes and so on.’
According to nursery nurse Janine Edwards, getting kids moving really matters. ‘Little legs will always get tired sometimes, says Janine, ‘so children do need a well-earned rest in a stroller or pushchair. I just think what’s important is that everything is balanced. Children have the freedom to walk if they want to and rest those little legs when they don’t.
‘The pressures on mums and dads don’t help. Daily schedules, getting the older kids to school, food shopping, after school clubs - and sometimes the craziness of everyday life - all get in the way.’
But with market pressure to deliver longer-lasting, good value products, it seems the trend is for manufacturers to design gear that will last until later and later ages.
Are you a mum who encourages your little ones to walk whenever possible, or are you a fan of using the pushchair a little bit longer?