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Original Issue

Curiosity's challenge

Halfway to walking, the 6-month-old baby exercises mind and muscles together

At 6 months, a baby is still partially isolated in a private world of his own. But at this halfway point in his growth toward independent mobility he is able to reach out and grasp occasional portions of the outside world—and every part of that world which swims into his ken becomes a challenge. He meets these new-found stimuli with an endless offensive of exploratory arms, legs, fingers, toes and taste buds.

Exercises for the inquisitive 6-month-old are therefore designed to present continual new challenges, at the same time strengthening and making more flexible those muscles he will need to meet them. In this process the more freedom the baby is given for trial and error the better he will like it, the more fun he'll have and the better it will be for him.

Here, in contrast to the more limited scope of his earlier months (SI, May 2 et seq.) young René Pouteau (above and right) is demonstrating at just over 6 months some vast new gains in strength and agility.

1 The wing-out follows early chest and shoulder exercises for lung expansion but lets the baby do most of the exercising himself. Begin with the baby in prone position, secure his grip in your own and gently stretch and raise his arms.

2 Swan arch helps baby strengthen upper back and neck. A month earlier baby would hang limp in this position.

3 Wheelbarrow strengthens shoulder girdle, muscles which too often prove a weakness in U.S. children.

4 Ankle rotation increases flexibility, adds strength for walking. Turn the baby's toes out, then in. Repeat 10 times.

5 Leg lift, in which all the work is done by baby, aids lower back. Let baby hold position as long as he can.