It might look like just child's play, but toddlers are hard at work learning important physical skills as they gain muscle control, balance, and coordination. Each new skill lets them progress to the next one, building on a foundation that leads to more complicated physical tasks, such as jumping rope, kicking a ball on the run, or turning a cartwheel.
Toddlers always want to do more, which can motivate them to keep trying until they master a new skill, no matter what it takes.
Take advantage of your toddler's natural desire to keep moving. Even at this early age, kids establish patterns of activity that carry through the rest of childhood. So an active toddler is likely to remain active later.
Playing and learning are completely natural for toddlers, so mastering physical skills should be fun and games for them. Parents should give toddlers many opportunities to practice their developing skills while providing supervision so they stay safe while they learn.
In addition to these physical accomplishments, toddlers are developing in other ways. Provide opportunities for yours to explore, ask questions, use his or her imagination, and practice fine motor skills, such as stacking blocks or coloring.
Here's a guide to the physical skills toddlers are working, by age:
For children 12-36 months old, current National Association for Sports and Physical Education (NASPE) guidelines recommend this much daily activity:
As a general rule, toddlers shouldn't be inactive for more than 1 hour at a time, except for sleeping. That's a lot of work for parents and caregivers, but a lot of much-needed activity for toddlers.
Encourage your toddler to be active, and remember how much he or she is learning along the way.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: October 2014
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|Zero to Three Zero to Three is a national nonprofit organization that promotes the health and development of infants and toddlers.|
|Let's Move! Let's Move! is dedicated to solving the problem of childhood obesity within a generation.|
|Movement, Coordination, and Your 1- to 2-Year-Old Most toddlers this age are walking and gaining even more control over their hands and fingers. Give your child lots of fun (and safe) things to do to encourage this development.|
|Fitness and Your 2- to 3-Year-Old Kids this age are naturally active, so be sure to provide lots of opportunities for your child to practice basic skills, such as running, kicking, and throwing.|
|Learning, Play, and Your 1- to 2-Year-Old Kids go from babies to toddlers during this time, from first steps to walking well. They also make major strides in language and communication.|
|Games for Toddlers Though toddlers will more often play alongside their friends instead of with them, they'll enjoy group games and can begin learning important lessons from them.|
|Home and Away: How to Keep Toddlers Active Toddlers naturally enjoy doing what is healthiest for them - being as active as possible. Here are tips to help keep them moving.|
|Safe Exploring for Toddlers Toddlers are learning to talk, to walk and run, and to assert their independence. For many in this age group, "outside" and "play" are common requests.|
|Snacks for Toddlers Some toddlers may seem too busy exploring to slow down and eat. Others may be fickle about food or refuse to eat at mealtime. That's where healthy, well-timed snacks come in.|
|Toddler Reading Time Reading to toddlers lays the foundation for their independent reading later on. Here are some tips.|
|Childproofing and Preventing Household Accidents You might think of babies and toddlers when you hear the words "babyproofing" or "childproofing," but unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in kids 14 years old and under.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.