The Best Healthy Activities For Toddlers
Whether they’re charging through the house or climbing over the furniture, toddlers are an active lot. A child’s main job during this transition stage between infancy and childhood is to learn the foundations of movement. When your toddler is throwing the toys across the room, they aren’t just testing your patience. They’re also practicing their important motor skills. Toddlers learn through play. When you give them a wide variety of games and different settings in which to play, you help them to learn more.
As well as the minimum of sixty minutes of unstructured free play that toddlers need every day, experts recommend that toddlers get at least thirty minutes of structured physical activity every day too. Here are some healthy ways to harness all that energy your toddler has.
From the moment that they wake up until the time that they drop off to sleep, toddlers are developing their brains at an incredible rate. There are lots of things that you can do to encourage your toddler’s mind:
- Dress up. Dress your toddler into a top hat and give them a baton so that they can ‘lead the band’. March around the living room together, with them leading. Look out for deals on costumes after Halloween, and pick up items like ties and boas for easy dress-up supplies. Toddlers have quite a limited attention span, which you will need to work with. They might enjoy a silly hat more than the game, but dress-up is a good way to stimulate creativity.
- Search for bugs. Get outside and look for bugs. Your toddler can learn the names and characteristics of all kinds of little creatures, from worms to ants, and all the squatting and standing during the search will help them to practice balance.
- Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. Ask your toddler to interact with different body parts. This classic game will teach your toddler to recognize and identify different parts of their body, and will help them to learn some new action verbs, like rub, pat, point, or touch, that they can use in other games.
Toddlers and parents can play with balls in all shapes and sizes, whether you have a simple soccer ball or a fun ball with lights inside or one that makes noise when you move it. Ball games teach lots of important things from impulse control to motor skills. Here are a few activities you can try with a ball:
- Kick ball. Set up some single targets, like a cushion on the floor or a pile of leaves, and take turns with your toddler to kick a ball towards the goal. The kicking will help to develop your toddler’s motor skills and balance. Taking turns with you will help them to develop impulse control too. This game can be played inside or outside, so it’s great for all weathers. Just move breakables if you’re playing inside.
- Track ball. Use a roll of masking tape to mark off a simple track and get your toddler to roll or kick the ball along this track. You can extend this game by setting up some stopping points along the route. When the ball reaches one of these, ask your toddler to complete a simple exercise, like jumping or touching their toes.
Toddlers love to dance and move, which is why gymnastics classes for toddlers and preschoolers are so popular. Dance is a familiar activity to anyone who has young children. Even if you have two left feet, your toddler’s glee at being able to bounce, dance, clap, and march will soon have you enjoying yourself too.
Dancing is fun, but it’s also a great way to practice all sorts of motor skills. Put some fun music on and practice things like skipping, marching, hopping, or clapping around a sofa or ottoman. Play freezing games, where you and your toddler move around while the music is playing, then freeze when it turns off. This teaches your toddler to follow directions. Songs with letters and numbers are useful teaching tools too.
Television is not generally recommended for young children as it has been linked to problems with attention disorders. However, there are lots of very good DVDs designed to help toddlers with their movement that could be an exception to this rule, especially if you get up and dance with them too. You might be very glad of one of these DVDs if you need to keep your toddler busy for a few minutes so you can do something else too!