I recently read a stat that toddlers should be having 30 mins of structured play a day and 60 mins general activity which got me wondering if this happens in my household. What concerned me was the reference to structured play as I believe movement should be fun and not forced. If a child is made to do something they don’t like then it is hard to set up lifetime habits of being active. Upon further investigation I discovered that ‘structured' play included kicking a ball, gym tots or a tumble class.
A childhood of inactivity, screen time and poor food choices without doubt leads to complications in later life so how hard can it be to get your toddler moving? Whilst it is not feasible to do so called structured play on a daily basis for me personally, I can guarantee my little man is active both indoors and out every day.
Anyone with a toddler knows that they have a bottomless pit of energy and are naturally drawn to move, being decidedly vocal and resistant when made to stop. Trust me, I have to psyche myself up for the wrestling match to get my son strapped in sometimes!
Here are my top tips to help you get your toddler moving:
- Be an active role model. This is the key, your child will only ever be as active as they see you be. Make a conscious effort to walk more and encourage your youngster to tell you what they see. When you take them to the park or soft play, get involved, have fun with them rather than sitting watching.
- Teach them to swim, whether it’s a specific swim school or splashing around at the local learner pool, you cannot neglect providing your child with this essential life skill. Even if they don’t take to it like a fish, you are assisting them to conquer a life threatening fear.
- Find your nearest park and take a ball, bat, Frisbee, kite or anything you can get your hands on. You don’t even need anything, do roly polys down hills, tunnels legs, tag, hide and seek, races, the list is endless. Most parks will have a playground too and I encourage all adults to release their inner Child! Organise play dates and take a picnic to enjoy after. When you create the association of fun, laughter and friends with ‘exercise' it’s so much more enjoyable for everyone.
- If one parent plays a sport at the weekends then why not make a family day out? Your children see their parent being active, learn a sport and also become the support crew and cheer squad. This helps to strengthen family bonds and the feeling of unity as it can be isolating for the parent and child left behind
- Make dens, tunnels, jumps and mini obstacle courses at home from pillows, chairs, cushions, boxes, blankets and anything else your imagination conjures up! Kids love these games and they are great wet weather activities or an option when in door soft play centres are not