The healthiest activity for toddlers requires no props, no instruction and no special venue. It simply requires that you and your toddler get moving. Young children aren't meant to be sedentary. They need to practice balance and a variety of basic movements to develop the motor skills that form the building blocks for the more complex movements they'll perform in later life [source: Strickler].
Something as simple as ditching the stroller and having your toddler accompany you on a walk around the block will provide him or her with tons of opportunities to get moving in novel ways. He'll have to navigate curbs, watch out for trip hazards and adjust his balance to accommodate variable surfaces. Turn your daily walk into a learning game by identifying and describing familiar sites along the route. Ask him: Is the neighbor's dog with black spots snoring? Is the stop light red, green or yellow? Is the door to the bank open or closed?
To practice moving indoors, have your toddler crawl under, climb through, jump over and twist around a simple obstacle course you've made out of couch cushions, pillows and blankets. Even asking her to help you pick up toys will provide her with many different opportunities to squat, stand, walk and reach. It'll also teach her to be helpful, which is a valuable lesson.
Whether you're tickling, wiggling, rolling, jumping or chasing, the sky's the limit on ways you and your toddler can get moving together.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- "Active Start: A Statement of Physical Activity Guidelines for Children from Birth to Age 5." National Association for Sport and Physical Education. No publication date. (March 8, 2010).http://www.aahperd.org/naspe/standards/nationalGuidelines/ActiveStart.cfm
- "Chlorine." USA Swimming. No publication date. (March 8, 2010)http://www.usaswimming.org/USASWeb/ViewMiscArticle.aspx?TabId=643&Alias=Rainbow&>
- Christakis, Dimitri A. "Early Television Exposure and Subsequent Attentional Problems in Children." Pediatrics. April, 2004. (March 8, 2010)http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/113/4/708
- "Exercise and Children." American Heart Association. March 10, 2010. (March 11, 2010)http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4596
- "Guideline for Operation of Aquatic Programs for Children Under Three Years of Age." World Aquatic Babies Congress. November 2007. (March 8, 2010)http://www.wabcswim.com/
- "Healthy Minds: Nurturing Your Child's Development." ZerotoThree.org. No publication date. (March 8, 2010)http://www.zerotothree.org/site/DocServer/12-18months.pdf?docID=328http://www.zerotothree.org/site/DocServer/18-24months.pdf?docID=324http://www.zerotothree.org/site/DocServer/24-36months.pdf?docID=326
- Lyness, D'Arcy. "Introducing Toddlers to Music." Kid's Health. February 2009. (March 8, 2010)http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/learning/toddler_music.html
- Strickler, R. Paul M.D. "Ages and Stages." HealthyChildren.org. Feb.17,2010. (March 8, 2010)http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/fitness/pages/From-Motor-Skills-to-Sports-Skills.aspx
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