Baby’s definitely too young to be developing a regular fitness routine, but according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, he’s definitely supposed to get at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day! So what’s a toddler to do? What he does best, of course – play!
It can be hard to tell sometimes whether toddlers have endless energy, or they just don’t have the brakes built in so they can slow down when they start to get tired out – and the truth is that it’s probably a little bit of both. This means that most days, the trick to helping Baby get the exercise his body and brain require to keep him growing strong and healthy is as simple as figuring out what he likes to do and turning him loose. If he likes climbing, playgrounds are probably the place for him. If he’s at home in the water, check your community center or local community pool for free swim times. If he thinks climbing up and down stairs is a good time, see if you can’t make friends with someone who lives somewhere tall.
On days when Baby is feeling a little less cooperative, though, getting Baby his required amount of running-around time might take a little bit more participation from you. The trick is to find activities that will keep Baby active and interested without exhausting you in the process. Follow-along games like Follow The Leader can be a great place to start, but if you’re too tuckered out to lead, games like Simon Says, Red Light Green Light, and Mother May I are great for getting Baby moving without making you commit to chasing around after him.
When Baby is running around, there’s a good chance that he might try to run off to somewhere he shouldn’t – and he is reaching an age where just distracting him isn’t the best way to discourage him from doing dangerous things or breaking rules. Instead, it’s much more effective to set the limit, and tell him that he’s not allowed to run into the road, or to push past younger children, before distracting him.
By setting a limit and then distracting him, you’ll give him the chance to feel secure knowing what your expectations are, and then to refocus on a new activity that’s fun, and isn’t against the rules.
Makes a joke: Maybe Baby’s ahead of the class, and has been cracking jokes for months, but if he’s developing along the same timeline as a lot of his peers, he’s reaching the point where his sense of humor is sophisticated enough to be making jokes on purpose. If Baby is doing things to make you (or themselves!) giggle, he’s showing great signs of maturity.
Copying other children: You might remember copying other children as being a bad thing when you were on the playground, but at Baby’s age, copying other children’s actions is an important step in his social development. Not only is he showing an awareness of, and an interest in other children, but he is a big step closer to playing with his peers, instead of just next to them.
- Rebecca Parlakian and Claire Lerner. “From Baby to Big Kid: Month 26.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, May 13 2016. Retrieved September 6 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1256-from-baby-to-big-kid-month-26.
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- “Play Activities for 24 to 36 Months.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, February 17 2010. Retrieved September 7 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/169-play-activities-for-24-to-36-months.
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- “Stages of Play from 24-36 Months: The World of Imagination.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, February 26 2015. Retrieved September 6 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/315-stages-of-play-from-24-36-months-the-world-of-imagination.