Fun Indoor Exercises for Toddlers (1-3 Years Old)
Here are some activities that you, your babysitter, or your nanny can do with your toddler to encourage healthy habits early on.
Care.com has worked with a variety of experts to find the perfect exercises for kids based on their age group. Read below to discover new ways that you -- and your babysitter or nanny -- can keep the kiddos entertained and healthy. Then, tell us your favorite exercises to do with kids in the comments below.
The Guidelines on Physical Activity for Toddlers
The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) has shared the following guidelines for the amount -- and type -- of physical activity toddlers should get in a day:
- Guideline 1: "Toddlers should engage in a total of at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity each day."
- Guideline 2: "Toddlers should engage in at least 60 minutes -- and up to several hours -- per day of unstructured physical activity and should not be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time, except when sleeping."
- Guideline 3: "Toddlers should be given ample opportunities to develop movement skills that will serve as the building blocks for future motor skillfulness and physical activity."
- Guideline 4: "Toddlers should have access to indoor and outdoor areas that meet or exceed recommended safety standards for performing large-muscle activities."
- Guideline 5: "Those in charge of toddlers' well-being are responsible for understanding the importance of physical activity and promoting movement skills by providing opportunities for structured and unstructured physical activity and movement experiences."
From the Experts: Examples of Fun Indoor Exercises for Toddlers
"With this age group, I love doing movement to music," says Len Saunders, an author, teacher, and exercise physiologist. Saunders organizes national fitness initiatives like Project ACES each year, where millions of children exercise simultaneously each May. "Kids this age respond positively to music."
To really get your kiddo in the mood to move, Saunders says that parents should play familiar songs — like the "Chicken Dance" or the "Hokey Pokey."
"These songs may be old to you, but new to the kids," he added.
"Another idea for this age group is to have them make shapes of letters of the alphabet," Saunders said. "For example, if they make the letter 'T', the stand up straight with their arm out straight."
With young ones, organized sports or even formal exercises aren't as crucial. Saunders explained that giving them free play time is the goal.
"Letting the kids just crawl around the house for the younger ones, or running around the playground all work, as long as they are moving!"
If you want to go engage the kids while ALSO tidying up, then consider doing an activity like the sock toss game as well. Here's how:
- Using a laundry basket or box and multiple pairs of socks, have your kiddo stand up and throw paired socks into the basket, cultivating movement and throwing skills, strength and coordination.
- For added movement, when you're done lead the kids in a victory lap or two around the room to raise their heart rate.
[RELATED: "More Fun Activities to Do with Toddlers"]
The Physical and Mental Skills They're Developing
- Gross Motor Skills:
- They're starting to develop basic gross motor skills like hand-eye coordination and balance.
- Learning & Understanding:
- They're developing an awareness of quantity by exploring materials and putting socks into containers of various sizes.
- Additionally, they begin to imitate counting by using some names or numbers.
- They're also starting to develop an understanding of their bodies in relation to the objects and space around them (also know as "body awareness").
- Physical Development:
- They begin to develop increased control of arm movements by doing activities like throwing at targets.
* This article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be providing medical advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The reader should always consult a health care provider concerning any medical condition or treatment plan. Neither Care.com nor the author assumes any responsibility or liability with respect to use of any information contained herein.