It might seem like a no-brainer to say that toddlers have A LOT of energy and are constantly on the move. They are naturally active and with this comes a great time to introduce some solid fitness fundamentals and get the whole family exercising together.
What’s enough physical activity for your toddler? Some guidelines to follow are that they get at least 30 minutes of structured activity and at least 60 minutes of unstructured, free-play time each day. It is also advised that they are not inactive for more than an hour at a time, apart from when they are sleeping. Kids will likely be able to come up with lots of free-play activities on their own but when it comes to the structured time, it’s important to know what kids are capable of doing around this age to be able to come up with some activity ideas.
By 18 months most kids can walk well (forwards and maybe backwards) and go downstairs on hands and knees. At age 2, toddlers should be able to run pretty well. They might also be able to kick a ball and jump in place with both feet. By age 3 they may be able to briefly balance on one foot, throw and catch a ball and pedal a tricycle.
Some fun things to try are:
- Lead them in creative movement: Pretend to be animals or machines (think cars, airplanes, bulldozers, etc.), dance to music (even babies as young as 1 love to bop around to tunes), or do follow the leader with varying movements (i.e arms over head, skipping, jumping in place).
- Make an obstacle course outside: You may already have plenty of things at home to do this. You can fill plastic cups with dirt or stand so they stay put and place them spread apart in a line so kids can weave in and out of them. Use pool noodles as tiny hurdles. Use a hula hoop, jump rope, or even rope to make circles for them to jump in and out of.
- Toddler Yoga: The Yoga Journal offers some poses that are good for both infant and toddlers that you can do together!
- Take walks as a family
- Nutrition: A big part of fitness is proper nutrition, so although it doesn’t count as “physically active” time, having your kids participate in making meals and learning about healthy foods is very beneficial and starts good eating habits early. The Healthy Children website is a good place to start for menu ideas
Lisa is a babywearing, breastfeeding, cloth-diapering mama that loves exploring all things about natural parenting.