Northern Beaches Mums Group
Northern Beaches Mums Group

Q&A with BabyLove Spokesperson Midwife Cath – nurse, midwife and maternal & child health nurse

When is the right age to start encouraging children to be active?

Activity for newborns starts on day one with a small about of tummy time and back time – play time. Play time enables babies to use up energy then they are capable of sucking vigorously at the breast and or bottle. This is how you start encouraging children to be active. If we put our babies in seats, walkers, jumpers or just sit them only on the ground they are not active enough and this interferes with both feeding and sleeping.

Once you start playtime with a newborn this activity flows on to when they are little babies, toddlers and older children. We need babies and children to have freedom with activity and it?s up to us as parents to encourage them – we are their teachers.

How can parents encourage active kids?

Children rely on parents to teach them, encourage them and provide safety around activities. Once toddlers start walking it’s great for parents to involve their child in activities. It’s important not to have too many activities as toddlers and children get very tired. Activities such swimming, walking and activity parks in local areas are all great examples of easy and cheap activities geared primarily for children.

If there is a smaller baby in the family, I encourage mums to walk the baby and have the younger child walk alongside the pram.? When walking with children the mum can teach and engage the children in interesting conversation about nature, road safety and family.

By using a back pack with a lead also teaches the toddler to walk alongside the pram and is a safety accessory as children can move very quickly and have no sense of danger or road safety. It also prevents the parent from running after the child (who may see this as a game) but it can be really a problem if the mother is pregnant and can’t run fast. She may also have to leave a baby alone in the pram. Training a toddler to walk alongside the pram is easier with the back pack.

How often should parents encourage active play?

Play is an important daily activity for children. It does not only exist of outside play, swimming and parks etc, play teaches children about life. Children learn from adults by example. Children love to play in a toy kitchen by serving make believe cups of tea and food. You may find children pretending to go to work and mimic the parents by doing all the actions they have watched on a daily basis.

A word of caution with the way parents talk to each other, talk in the car, swear at other drivers, all this is being watched and listened to by the toddler who, at some stage will blurt out a swear word at the same situation the parents have used a swear word. You need to be careful what you talk about and how you act towards other people and your child as they will replicate everything they have heard.

What is the importance of this in their child?s development?

The child sits in emotional wet cement and as parents we have the ability to mould their emotional development and how they become as adults. The way we talk to them, praise them, advise them, teach them will be the way the child will act as an adult. Adults are responsible for the children’s environment to be positive for the child to grow emotionally. As parents we are teachers. Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.

BabyLove Nappies invites parents to celebrate their little athletes and share an action photo on BabyLove’s Facebook page. To find out more about the fun competition, visit or and #ToddlersAreAthletes.

BabyLove Spokesperson Midwife Cath

BabyLove spokesperson, Midwife Cath, Cath Curtin, is a trusted expert in women’s health, pre-pregnancy, antenatal care and education, pregnancy, labour and birth, postnatal care, breastfeeding, and parenting. She has delivered over 10,000 babies throughout her 42-year career. Trained and fully-qualified as a nurse, midwife and maternal and child health nurse, Cath has an incomparable depth of experience. Her book, The First Six Weeks, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2016 and is being translated for international markets. Her next book will be published by Allen & Unwin in 2018.