Baby’s definitely too young to be developing a regular fitness routine, but according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, they're definitely supposed to get at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day! So what’s a toddler to do? What they do 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 their body and brain require to keep them growing strong and healthy is as simple as figuring out what they like to do and turning them loose. If they like climbing, playgrounds are probably the place for them. If they're at home in the water, check your community center or local community pool for free swim times. If they think 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 their 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 them.
When Baby is running around, there’s a good chance that they might try to run off to somewhere they shouldn’t – and they are reaching an age where just distracting them isn’t the best way to discourage them from doing dangerous things or breaking rules. Instead, it’s much more effective to set the limit, and tell them that they're not allowed to run into the road, or to push past younger children, before distracting them.
By setting a limit and then distracting them, you’ll give them 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 they're developing along the same timeline as a lot of their peers, they're reaching the point where their sense of humor is sophisticated enough to be making jokes on purpose. If Baby is doing things to make you (or themself!) giggle, they're 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 their social development. Not only is they showing an awareness of, and an interest in other children, but they are a big step closer to playing with their peers, instead of just next to them.
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