Movement and physical activity for toddlers

At this age your child is a little ball of energy!

Physical activity for young children is a great way to build coordination, physical skills and healthy bodies. But did you know that it’s also essential for your baby’s brain development?

Through active play, your child can learn to get along with others, to concentrate, to cooperate, to learn, and to become independent. It’s a great way for your child to experience a strong sense of wellbeing. And for most children, being active is fun!

You can encourage children between one and five years to be physically active for at least three hours a day (not all at the same time – they need to rest too). Don’t forget to keep them in your sight – toddlers are pretty good at inventing new ways of getting themselves into difficulties.

Here are some tips to help you encourage your child to be active:

  • Be active yourself, and your child will take your lead.
  • Spend active time with your child: throw autumn leaves in the air or; play hide and seek around the house; see which of you has the funniest dance moves, throw a ball and chase it.
  • Encourage your child to explore and experiment – playing outdoors is a great way to do this.
  • Be active in the everyday – don’t wait for a visit to the playground. Can you walk to the shops and let your child push the trolley? Do you need the pram to walk to the park or could they ride a bike or a scooter?
  • Involve your child in household activities. Can they help you to paint a wall, or plant seeds in the garden? Can they help you wash the car or rake the leaves?
  • Build on your child’s existing interests. If your child enjoys reading books more than running about, park the car further away and walk to the library. If your child loves music, sing songs that involve actions. Or put on some music and dance around the house (no need for formal lessons).
  • Collect materials for your child to use in active play: cardboard boxes, bats, balls, dress ups. Have them in a box that your child can go to when they are looking for play ideas.
  • You should limit your child’s screen time (TV, computers and phones) as a way of encouraging them to go outside and play. Consider writing a list with them so they can contribute ideas about other activities.