Does my toddler need more exercise?

Toddlers spend much of their days exploring, which means lots of time spent on the go. Chances are, Baby is pretty active throughout the day, running circles around you as they move from one activity to the next. (Wouldn’t it be nice if they could lend out some of that excess energy?)

Between all the running, jumping, and climbing toddlers do, it’s a safe bet that they’re getting the exercise they need, but just to be safe, it can be helpful to know how much active playtime they’re supposed to be getting. It’s recommended toddlers get the following amount of activity each day:

  • At least 30 minutes of adult-led physical activity
  • At least 60 minutes of free play activity
  • No more than one hour of sedentary, or non-moving time at a time (sleeping, of course, not included in this)

If you’re concerned that Baby isn’t getting enough activity in the day, there are a few ways to mix a little extra activity into their routine.

  • Go for a walk: Take a hike through nature to break up the day, or even go for a walk as a family after dinner each night.
  • Shake it up: Blasting some of Baby’s favorite beats and wiggling away to the music is a fun way to sneak in a little active play.
  • Play at the park: The playground is a great way to get some extra exercise, and most toddlers don’t want to cap it at 60 minutes!
  • Pretend to be animals: Climb like monkeys, run like cheetahs, and hop like frogs. This is a fun way to teach about animals, practice fun new ways of moving, and to burn off some energy.
  • Take a swim: When the weather is nice, there’s nothing more refreshing than hitting up the pool. The best part? Swimming is one of the best types of exercise around.
  • Stick with the classics: Games like hopscotch, Ring Around the Rosie, and tag are tried-and-true games that will get Baby on their feet.

Toddlers are very active by nature, so it’s unlikely you’ll need to make too many changes to Baby’s routine in order to get them moving. If you’re concerned they might be overweight, it may ease your mind to speak to their doctor, since most children grow on their own curve and will even out in time. Toddlers need their downtime, too, but it’s important to balance out the time spent in front of the TV or on the tablet with lots of physical play to be sure they are getting enough physical activity.

  • “How Much Physical Activity Do Children Need?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved August 17 2017.
  • “Physical Activity: Toddler 1-3 years.” HealthyChildren. American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved August 17 2017.
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