Although your toddler's energy might exhaust you, an active toddler is a healthy toddler. Children 1 to 3 years old should have at least an hour of daily unstructured physical activity and at least 30 minutes of adult-led physical activity, according to the National Association of Sports and Physical Education. Exercise helps toddlers maintain healthy weight, develop gross motor skills and decreases the risk of serious illnesses. Teaching toddlers the importance of exercise also helps establish healthy habits that will continue into adulthood.
Shake It Up
One of the easiest ways to exercise with your toddler is by dancing. Songs with silly lyrics or playing follow the leader with your dance moves engages and entertains toddlers. The Hokey Pokey or Where is Thumbkin, for example, help toddlers name and wiggle their digits, building vocabulary and fine motor skill development. Since dancing engages the entire body, toddlers increase coordination, strength and endurance, according to the National Dance Education Organization.
Stretch It Out
Another way to improve your toddler's balance and coordination is through stretching exercises such as yoga. Try simple stretching poses like downward dog or crescent moon. Switch to child's pose or rag doll to relax your little one at the end of a long day. Yoga focuses on breathing and balance, but remember to keep it light and fun. Poses with funny names like frog pose or ostrich pose can help to keep toddlers engaged. Yoga not only enhances flexibility and coordination, but it also helps develop a sense of calmness and concentration, according to Yoga Journal.
Run For It
Your 2-year-old is ready to follow simple instructions and since they learn through play, relays are a good way to encourage them. Fro example, you can line up three or four familiar objects and have your toddler race to get the one you call out. You can have your toddler kick balls back to you instead of carrying them or have them hop back with a stuffed animal. Toddlers develop gross motor skills through jumping, throwing and kicking, according to the National Library of Medicine. These skills are new for toddlers, so be sure to clear a safe level space for them to run.
Hopping like a kangaroo, crawling like a crab, slithering like a snake or waddling like a penguin can teach your child about animals while keeping them active an entertained. You can play a game of charades and have your little one guess what kind of animal you are, then have them act like their favorite animal. By 18 to 24 months, kids should be able to name animals and body parts, according to the National Library of Medicine. This activity will not only work their muscles, but also stimulate their creativity and language development.
- National Association for Sports and Physical Education; Active Start: A Statement of Physical Activity Guidelines for Children From Birth to Age 5
- National Dance Education Organization: Standards for Dance in Early Childhood
- Yoga Journal: Yoga for Kids
- National Network for Child Care: Toddler Development
- National Library of Medicine: Toddler Development
- Amos Morgan/Photodisc/Getty Images