Your baby is born with leg muscles, but the muscles are soft and need to be built upon throughout his life. To help encourage your child’s leg muscle development, understand when he will be able to master certain skills and how muscles are most effectively strengthened.
Although your child is unable to do much during the first few months of life, you might notice that she kicks her legs around while lying down. By 6 months of age, she is able to use the muscles in her legs to help her roll from side to side, and between 6 to 12 months of age, she will begin crawling and using her leg muscles to pull herself up on furniture, according to the First 5 California website. She will start walking before her second birthday, and her leg muscles will only continue to build from there as she adds running, jumping and skipping to her list of achievements, all before she turns 5 years old.
The best way to encourage your child’s leg muscle development is to provide him with plenty of options to play, according to KidsHealth.org. Instead of specific and targeted exercises, just give him opportunities to explore his environment and gradually learn to use his legs, beginning in infancy. As he gets older, encourage him to participate in physical activities such as bike riding, jumping, running and climbing.
In addition to physical activity, your child’s muscles need nutritious foods to grow. Foods rich in protein such as poultry, meat, nuts and beans, and iron, such as red meat, fish and leafy greens, can provide your child with the energy she needs to build her muscles. However, KidsHealth.org indicates that a balanced diet full of a variety of nutrients is needed to build strong muscles.
Your child will likely seem wobbly and unsure of himself as he starts learning to use his legs. This is normal behavior as he takes time to develop his motor skills. You might even notice that his legs appear bowed from being cramped in the womb, which will go away as he begins learning to walk. However, talk to your child’s doctor about muscle development issues if you notice that your child is favoring one side, falls excessively, or if his legs seem extremely stiff.