Adding more active play to your toddler’s life

It’s hard to believe, but even at this young age Baby’s eye color isn’t the only thing that will stay with him from now into adulthood. Even now, he is actually learning the habits that could stick around well into the more mature years of his life. Because habits are formed so early on, it’s best to make physical activity a solid part of Baby’s routine – an active Baby can help him grow into an active, healthy adult. Experts recommend an hour of moderate or vigorous activity every day.

Physical activity is good for Baby’s brain and muscle development and it gives you the opportunity to move around, too. If Baby is not feeling all that enthusiastic, watching you get active can help motivate him to get up off of that diaper and move!

Baby is a little young to be playing organized sports like soccer or tennis – could he even lift the tennis racket? – so unstructured play is probably your best bet right now. Here are some ideas for fun, active playtime with Baby.

Throwing and catching balls

Baby is coordinated enough to catch the ball (sometimes) if it’s rolled to him, or thrown with a soft, underhand toss. Let him try to corral the ball, then see if he can practice throwing it back to you.

Running races

In 15 years or so, Baby might try and pretend he never ran after you in a diaper, but right now Baby will love the challenge of beating you in a race.

Going on walks, and exploring

This will give Baby a sense of his surroundings, and a chance to discover things that he might not see during a typical daily routine. Taking walks and exploring together will encourage Baby’s sense of curiosity and let him get physical exercise and a sensory experience, as well.


This may depend on the season and your accessibility to a pool or beach, but if you have access to either of these things, or even a wading pool you can fill up with a hose, you’ll have no trouble putting Baby to bed after a long day of swimming – and you may sleep better yourself after a day of splashing around as you supervise him.

Free play

You can always choose to make it up with Baby as you go. Climbing on swingsets, hide-and-go-seek, playing in a sandbox, using push-and-pull toys, and dancing are all great ways to get Baby’s blood flowing, and your own, too! And after play time comes snack time or, even better, nap time – for both of you!

  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Children and sports: Choices for all ages.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, August 9 2016. Web.
  • “Home and Away: How to Keep Toddlers Active.” KidsHealth. Nemours, 1995-2016. Web.

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