Toddlers are naturally physically active. They're eager to explore and often on the run. But with the availability of TV shows, computer games and handheld devices geared to small children, your toddler might also spend a fair bit of time being inactive. Give her lots of opportunities for structured, parent-directed play now to ensure that she builds her physical strength and stays active in the years to come.
How Much is Enough
The National Association of Sports and Physical Education recommends toddlers get at least 30 minutes of adult-led physical activity and at least 60 minutes of free play daily. While you might think your toddler is active enough, the association suggests she not be at rest for more than an hour at a time, except during sleep. KidsHealth.org notes that by the age of 2, toddlers should be able to walk and run. They might also have the ability to kick a ball and jump on the spot with both feet. By age 3, most toddlers will be able to balance on one foot for a moment, ride a tricycle and perform various motions with a ball, such as throwing overhand, kicking and catching with arms outstretched.
Build on the physical strengths that your toddler has acquired. It could be as simple as taking a walk through your neighborhood or a park. Give her lots of closely supervised time to use age-appropriate playground equipment. In your backyard, provide a tricycle, a variety of balls, and some push and pull toys. These are not just toys, but tools to help your child build motor skills and physical strength. KidsHealth.org notes that children who enjoy opportunities for active play as toddlers are more likely to be physically fit as they age.
Explore a range of strength-building activities to ensure that you and your toddler don't get bored. Join other moms and tots for programs at your a community center. Dance classes, ball skills classes and tumbling programs can help your toddler build physical strength and social skills. At home, jazz up your toddler's exercise routine with games. Encourage her to buzz like a bee, crawl like a dog, hop like a bunny rabbit or walk like a penguin. Play some favorite tunes and hit the dance floor together or play musical chairs as a family.
If you have other children visiting, build your toddler's physical strength with a cooperative game such as "Simon Says." Get the little ones bending, twisting, rolling and running on the spot. Have one person act as Simon, while the others stand in front of her in a straight line. When Simon calls out an action using the words "Simon says," everybody must perform the action. If she doesn't use the words "Simon says" before the action the others should continue standing still. With a group of toddlers, feel free to lighten up on the rules and just have them enjoy getting physically active.