Exercise is essentially important to the health of the infant. Its first exercise, of course, will be in the nurse’s arms.
After a month or two, when it begins to sleep less during the day, it will delight to roll and kick about on towel on the floor: it will thus use its limbs freely; and this, with carrying out into the open air, is all the exercise it requires at this period.
By and by, however, the child will make its first attempts to walk.
It is highly necessary that the young and experienced mother should recollect this fact, for the early efforts of the little one to walk are naturally viewed by her with so much delight, that she will be apt to encourage and prolong its attempts.
The best mode of teaching a child to walk, is to let it teach itself, and this it will do readily enough.
It will first crawl about: this exercises every muscle in the body, does not fatigue the child, but imparts vigour and strength, and is thus highly useful.
After a while, having the power, it will wish to do more: it will endeavour to lift itself upon its feet by the aid of a chair, and though it fail again and again in its attempts, it will still persevere until it accomplish it.
By this it learns, first, to raise itself from the floor; and secondly, to stand, but not without keeping hold of the object on which it has seized.
Next it will balance itself without holding, and will proudly and laughingly show that it can stand alone. Fearful, however, as yet of moving its limbs without support, it will seize a chair or anything else near it, when it will dare to advance as far as the limits of its support will permit.
This little adventure will be repeated day after day with increased exultation; when, after numerous trials, he will feel confident of his power to balance himself, and he will run alone. Now time is required for this gradual self-teaching, during which the muscles and bones become strengthened; and when at last called upon to sustain the weight of the body, are fully capable of doing so.
And of course there are the children who show little or no inclination nor even any real attempt to walk. Then one day, they just stand up and walk.