New videos are aimed at developing sports skills even before the infants viewing them can walk.
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."
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,'" 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 such as 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 U.S. pediatric sports medicine clinic at Children's Hospital in Boston.
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.
One of his concerns, he said, is "the potential for even younger ages of overuse injury."
The entrepreneurs behind these businesses make no claims about turning today's babies into tomorrow's Super Bowl star. In the past, marketing claims for products geared toward babies have caused trouble for companies, including Disney's "Baby Einstein."
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So after reading the article, what are your thoughts? Do you think it is okay to do this to the kids or not?