Barefoot is better!
THE CHILD’S BRAIN develops most quickly in the first three years of life. The child’s body develops most quickly in the first three years of life. You cannot separate the brain/mind from the body

It has always been this way. The Greeks knew it. Why is it just now coming to light in our questionably highly civilized, Know-All society?

Child Playpen - drawing by Bonnie PruddenSwaddling clothes, bassinets, cradles, cribs, highchairs, toidy seats, playpens, strollers, car seats, shoes, cars, buses, classrooms, TV, iPads, Smart phones.

Who do all of these conveniences really serve? Like shoes, there is a time and place for everything. We are coming recently to the realization that barefoot is good, that it uses all the muscles in the foot and that a strong foot is a good foot. However, it makes sense to don protective footwear if you are playing tennis or football. It doesn’t mean that you have to wear shoes, nor should you, all the time.

Child containment makes it easier for the care-giver and some would argue that these containers protect the child. However, lately news articles say that the child’s brain develops most rapidly during the first three years of life. Social contact, exposure to verbal exchanges, books, poetry, music, animals, etc. are all important. I can’t tell you how many young mothers I’ve observed, child in hand, on their cell phones. The child is never spoken to or even acknowledged. It is simply there. We have become tied to inanimate objects while what should be the real object of our affection is ignored.

Child in a Womb - drawing by Bonnie PruddenWe were all first contained in the same way for nine long months in the protective womb. Some of us made our growing selves known by kicking. But in the end, or in the beginning, we all arrived through a portal to continue on. Basically we are all alike. For the most part we all have bodies that more or less look alike and have the same muscles.

Prepare vs Protect
You cannot protect children. You can, however, prepare them and you had better do so. Yes, there are laws meant to protect, such as helmets, car seats and seat belts and they all make sense. What doesn’t make sense is the amount of time we CONTAIN children in the ways mentioned previously and without even a thought of the consequences. Containment, for whatever reason, must be balanced out with the work of play.

Child Swimming - drawing by Bonnie PruddenYou may have noticed that the body houses the brain. Both need to be kept in good order from the VERY BEGINNING. If you have a baby, day two is not too early to begin the exercise program and day seven with baby swim. It is called a good head start. (Check out my April 2015 blog, Water Wise Babies, and my October 2013 blog, Baby Needs Exercise, Too.)

Tumbling is a very valuable tool as it develops coordination, rhythm, judgment, and proprioception – the ability to know where the body is in space. And it should begin the first time the baby puts its seat in the air and head and hands on the floor. At that point you place your hands on each hip/diaper area and help the somersault over, being careful to lift the weight off the back of the neck as the turn is made.

If a baby is exercised from day one and is encouraged to move throughout the first three years of life she will not only develop a good body, she will always want to move because it feels so good to move. Wind, rain, cold and heat, puzzles, crayons, beads, music, books, foreign words, puddles, grass, sand, rocks, climbing, pushing, pulling, balancing, tumbling, hanging should be a part of each day. Play is a child’s work. So ditch the container.

Sitting in front of the TV and using an iPad is not play…it is mind-numbing. Recent articles suggest that digital devices go at the part of the brain that controls self-control in the same way that cocaine does. They stimulate the frontal cortex and raise dopamine levels which send out neurotransmitters that play a big role in addiction.

“Action, curiosity, rhythm, strength, courage, balance, attitude,
self-esteem begin early and stay…”
Bonnie Prudden

If you care about kids you will want to know about the Vanves Experiment led by Dr. Latarjet, in 1953, in France. The aim was two-fold: reduce to a minimum the hours needed for intellectual school subjects and at the same time allow more time for physical exercise with a view to obtaining better physiological development and consequently better intellectual efficiency and compare the results with a control group.

Bonnie first reported this in her book Fitness from Six to Twelve, published in 1972, and included it in her revised 1987 edition. You can read about the Vanves study and others in the following issue of Psychology Today, 2014 (scroll down the page to the article).

“…it is still worth noting” says the article, “that numerous studies
have found that physically fit children tend to outperform their less fit peers.”

Bonnie renamed the school bus “the yellow peril” and the first day of school, “the end of childhood.”

Child Playing Ball - drawing by Bonnie PruddenDo not underestimate the power and importance of early action and a regular exercise program. A good start is a minute of exercise with each diaper change, because in the long run (to quote Bonnie) –

The physical fitness level of a child:

  • Is related to his ability to learn in the classroom.
  • Affects his performance on the playground and in turn, his standing with his peers.
  • Is related to his emotional stability.
  • Is related to his ability to release tension quickly, efficiently and completely. This in turn affects behavior in the classroom.
  • Has a bearing on his ability to read.
  • Will affect his attendance in the class.

A REAL Head Start program begins at day one with YOU and your child. Start now and make it happen!


For more information about baby / child exercising, read Your Baby Can Swim and How to Keep Your Child Fit from Birth to Six by Bonnie Prudden, complete with exercise stories, instructions, and equipment to make it easy. For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help. Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®