Be well-rounded. If you're grooming your preschooler to be the next Venus Williams or Kim Clijsters, you're putting her at risk. “Specializing in one sport from a young age, in hopes of becoming a star player, is what contributes to overuse injuries,” says Dr. Stubbs. Let your child try a variety of activities that allow her to use her body in different ways. So if you did a baby-and-me swimming class in the summer, sign her up for a gymnastics or soccer program in the winter.
Take time off. While variety is important, your child doesn't always need to be enrolled in something. “Young kids need to rest their bodies, so remember to give them a season or two off every year,” says Dr. Stubbs. If you love the structure that a class provides, try art or music for a semester instead.
Don't feel pressure. Though you may worry that kids in soccer programs or karate classes will have an advantage over your class-shy child, you shouldn't. “Organized programs offer no edge at these young ages,” says Brooke de Lench, author of Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports. “Studies have shown that kids who take sports and exercise classes as preschoolers are no more likely to be involved in high school sports than kids who don't.” In fact, free play (at the playground, in the backyard or basement with a ball) may be even more beneficial, she says.
Bottom line: If you and your child have fun at peewee baseball, go for it (in moderation). If not, don't force the issue.