The National Physical Activity Recommendations for Children advise toddlers (1-3 years) should be physically active every day, for at least 3 hours, over the course of the day. Physical activity is essential for your toddler’s healthy growth and development. With 25% of Australian children now considered to be overweight or obese, it is more important than ever to encourage an active lifestyle to promote healthy behaviours.
Physical activity for your young one has many benefits such as helping them develop strong bones and muscles along with a healthy heart and lungs. Every day fun also helps support brain development and improves their coordination skills and balance. You will also see an increase in social skills as they interact with others.
Here are some tips that can help keep your toddler active
One of the keys is to choose activities that your child enjoys and then provide them with plenty of encouragement along the way. Some fun physical activity ideas are:
- Using balls, balloons and blowing bubbles for catching and hitting games
- Using everyday objects around the house like chairs and boxes, you can create an obstacle course that your little one can explore, climb under, over and through
- Playtime in the playground outside encourages various activities like swinging, sliding, climbing and balancing. Be sure that everyone has appropriate sun protection such as sunblock and hats
- A family pet is a great way to get your toddlers up and moving for a fun play time or maybe a walk to the local park
- Music can always be fun. Put on some music that allows your toddler to learn to move to different beats and rhythms. Put your dancing shoes on and join in too!
- Games that encourage jumping, running, hopping, galloping and skipping can be a little ones favourite
- Another great way to stay active is to have a garden. Your toddler can help in the garden by digging holes or by watering their new plants
- When you need to walk to the shops or to take older siblings to school, allow your youngster to walk part of the way there
- Play dates with other toddlers is not only a great way to be active but can help with their understanding of social rules and friendships
- Organised, but not competitive, activities such as swimming lessons, dancing and recreational gymnastics are some great ways for your toddler to make new friends and a great way to be active.
Television and Electronic Media
There is no doubt that most little ones enjoy the stimulation that television can offer. However, it is recommended by the National Physical Activity Recommendations for Children that infants under 2 years should not use electronic devices (DVD’s, computer games, TV) and children 2-5 years should be limited to less than 1 hour. These recommendations come along with studies that show that TV watching can cause attention problems and possibly language and cognitive development delays. The benefits of physical activity are greater than anything your toddler could get from watching TV.
Get involved and be a great role model
As a parent you are the most influential person in your toddler’s life, by finding ways to be active every day, your child will model these positive behaviours. Make activity fun and a part of your family’s daily routine. Encouraging these behaviours early in life promotes lifelong healthy habits for your child and benefits your health too.