It’s no secret that children of today are less active than they have ever been. Childhood obesity is on the rise and so is juvenile diabetes. It’s important to have kids involved in activities that will keep them moving and active, rather than spending all of their time in front of the TV or playing video games. That means starting with healthy activities for toddlers that will become a normal part of their daily routine as they grow older. You can use your toddler’s natural interest in learning to create daily activities that will help them grow in every way.
Target fine motor skills: Toddlers have the energy and curiosity to make trying new more advanced activities fun. These are the years when learn hand to eye coordination, so seek out activities that help them practice fine motor skills. Activities like stacking blocks, finger painting, or working a simple puzzle will help your child expand her fine motor skills. While this type of play doesn’t look like much, your toddler is developing the muscles and coordination that will later help her to hold a pencil and eventually write her own name.
Keep it simple: Activities that keep your toddler healthy and engaged don’t need to be complex or elaborate. Most toddlers will play with just about anything! Most toddlers explore enough on their own to provide them with the exercise they need to stay healthy. All they need is the opportunity, and a safe place to play. Encourage your toddler to explore by offering a safe environment and a selection of interesting objects to explore. If you baby-proofed when your child was born, it is probably time to take a fresh look at your home—toddlers can get into more trouble, and reach more areas than infants can!
Play with others: Children who don’t have others to play with are less likely to be active. Consider joining a play group, or visiting a park or playground. The change of scenery will give your toddler lots of time to explore, and you may make a few new friends as well!
Play with your toddler: A bonus to taking on the position as your toddler’s fitness guide is that you can reap the benefits as well. Toddler love to play tag and you can enjoy a quick game of tag with your toddler every day. You don’t have to be able to run fast to play and your toddler will love the individual time that he or she gets with you.
Practice gross motor skills: Another way to keep toddlers on the move is to have a ready assortment of balls of all sizes. Provide age appropriate basketball goals, plastic bats, and any other sports equipment you can find. They will spend hours throwing, kicking, and hitting things across the back yard. The movements that your toddler will make will keep him fit—and help him develop the gross motor skills he will need as a “big kid”.
Work together: Avoid the temptation to put your toddler on the back of the bicycle or in the stroller and take off for your own exercise routine. Find healthy activities for your toddler’s benefit and yours as well. It may take a little longer to make it around the block, but if you let your toddler lead the way, a simple trot around the neighborhood will do you both a world of good.
Adopt healthy attitudes and habits yourself, and bring your toddler along for the ride. The healthy habits you instill in her today will stick with her, and foster a lifelong love of fitness and exercise.