As well as being a fun bonding experience, activity plays an important role in healthy growth and development. Australian guidelines recommend at least three hours doing a variety of physical activities per day. Their daily activity will include both structured and unstructured (or free) play. Structured play is when an adult is directing the activity and the child is encouraged to follow simple rules. This might include casual games but also organized group activities. Unstructured, or free, play is when the child is free to be active in whatever ways they choose, with minimal input from adults.
Encouraging your toddler to be active at this age helps build strength and motor skills as well as kickstarting healthy habits that may last a lifetime.
1. What? Play tag
How? This is a great activity for when your toddler has mastered walking and is learning to run. Chasing games are great to play outside if you are lucky enough to have a garden. If not, you can always clear some furniture out of the way and play inside. Simply get your toddler to chase you and vice-versa. When they tag you or you tag them, give them a hug to let them know the object of the game has been achieved.
Why? This exciting, energetic game will help build their muscles and improve their navigation and spatial awareness skills.
2. What? Hitch a ride
How? At this age, your toddler can start using ride-on toys that rock or scoot, such as cars, trucks, and rocking horses. They can have fun moving themselves around the house and in the garden with parental supervision.
Why? Your toddler will love the feeling of independence that comes from powering something under their own steam, and it will help strengthen their core and leg muscles.
3. What? Bubble fun
How? A great activity for the garden or balcony, if you have one and you are there to watch. Blow bubbles and encourage them to move around to catch and pop them between their hands. All toddlers develop at their own pace, so save this game for when your little one is confident on their feet.
Why? As well as getting them moving around, chasing and catching bubbles will benefit their hand-eye coordination and balance.
4. What? Obstacle course
How? Create a mini obstacle course in your living room or garden using items like cushions or pillows to crawl over, a table to crawl under, and a chair to walk around. Let your toddler explore and have fun while you supervise.
Why? This kind of activity will help to develop their gross motor skills and spatial awareness, and build strength and agility.
5. What? Box clever
How? If you have any large cardboard boxes, they are great for making hiding places, pretend cars or rockets, or little dens to crawl in and out of. For safety, only have boxes available when your toddler is playing with an adult.
Why? Providing them with a clean box can allow them to work on their motor skills, navigation, and balance. It also gives them the opportunity to use their imagination to make up their own games.