Growth & Skill Development
Making physical activity fun for your child age 2 and older (toddler 2+)
Teach your growing toddler the importance of physical activity, as well how much fun exercise can be. Getting your child involved in regular physical activity now can help set the stage for an active and healthy lifestyle in the future.
Older toddlers should get two hours of physical activity per day. One hour of that should be structured activity, such as dance class, T-ball, or a game of catch with you in the backyard. The other hour should be unstructured active play. The American Academy of Pediatrics also encourages active play and recommends no more than two hours of quality TV programming a day.
The Benefits of Physical Activity
Regular physical activity helps your child in multiple ways, including:
- strengthening bones
- lowering blood pressure
- reducing stress and anxiety
- increasing self-esteem
- helping with weight management
Different Activities Are Good for Different Parts of the Body
- Aerobic/cardiovascular activities include walking, tricycle riding, hiking, running, and games such as tag or chase
- Muscle strengthening activities include gymnastics and climbing or swinging on playground equipment (with your supervision)
- Bone strengthening activities include hopping, jumping, and games such as hopscotch
Integrate Activity into Your Regular Routine
If you're physically active, your child will likely imitate you. Be a positive role model and play games with your child. They should be stage-appropriate activities to allow her to master new gross motor skills and help her build coordination. (Always make sure your child is supervised during active play.)
Here are some other ways to incorporate activity into your lives:
- Play every day. Toss a ball, play tag, or kick a soccer ball around the backyard.
- Share an activity. Take your child swimming or take the family dog for a walk. It doesn't matter what the activity is, as long as you and your child are moving and interacting.
- Create safe play areas. Inside and outside your home, designate areas that are safe for active play. Indoor areas may include a basement or other room in your house that has been prepared for play. In open backyard spaces, your older toddler can roll, jump, tumble, and dance.
- Choose toys to get your child moving. Forgo the video games in favor of toys that encourage activity and movement such as a ball, hula hoop, or tricycle.
Looking for nutritious menu ideas that you can customize for your older toddler?
Check out our easy-to-use Menu Planner!
Learn more about encouraging your child to have a healthy lifestyle.