Sports training has begun for babies and toddlers

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As a fitness coach in Grand Rapids, Mich., Doreen Bolhuis has a passion for developing exercises for children. The younger, it seems, the better. “With the babies in our family,” she said, “I start working them out in the hospital.”

Ms. Bolhuis turned her exercises into a company, Gymtrix, that offers a library of videos starting with training for babies as young as 6 months. There is no lying in the crib playing with toes.

Infant athletes, accompanied by doting parents on the videos, do a lot of jumping, kicking and, in one exercise, something that looks like baseball batting practice.

“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,’ ” Ms. Bolhuis said.

Future Robinson Canos and Sidney Crosbys are getting their start in sports earlier than ever. Kindergartners play in soccer leagues and at an annual T-Ball World Series in Milton, Fla. But now children are being groomed as athletes before they can walk.

The growing competition in marketing baby sports DVDs includes companies with names like athleticBaby and Baby Goes Pro. Even experts in youth sports seem startled that the age of entry has dipped so low.

“That’s really amazing. What’s next?” said Dr. Lyle Micheli, an orthopedic surgeon and founder of the first pediatric sports medicine clinic in the United States at Children’s Hospital in Boston.

Dr. Micheli said he did not see any great advantages in exposing babies to sports. “I don’t know of any evidence that training at this infancy stage accelerates coordination,” he said.

Full story: Sports Training Has Begun for Babies and Toddlers –