Fun & Games: Why Physical Activity is Important For Your Baby & Toddler
Little children are often very busy little bodies and naturally want to be active and to play. For any parent or carer of young children you will know that they don’t like being inactive for long periods of time. Being physically active goes hand in hand with a nutritious diet for ensuring the health, development and wellbeing of your child.
National Physical Activity Guidelines
The Australian Government has a set of National Physical Activity Guidelines that promote the benefits of being active. These include:
- Help maintain and achieve a healthy weight.
- Build strong bones and muscles.
- Improve balance, movement and co-ordination skills.
- Promote social skills through interactions with people.
- Support brain development.
- Encourage self-confidence and independence.
Infants (0-12 months): For healthy development in infants, particularly supervised floor based play in safe environments, should be encouraged from birth.
Toddlers (1-3 years) & Preschoolers (3-5 years): Toddlers and preschoolers should be physically active every day for at least 3 hours, spread throughout the day. They don’t need to do their 3 hours all at once; it can be accumulated throughout the day. This includes indoor or outdoor play and structured or unstructured play.
Be A Good Role Model
Just like for eating behaviour, setting a good example for your children in regards to being physically active is essential. Kids absolutely love it when their parents get involved in their playtime activities. It will help you keep fit at the same time – fun and fitness for everyone!
What about TV?
This may come as a surprise but children less than 2 should not spend any time watching TV or using electronic media. E.g. iPad, tablets, phones, computer games etc. For children aged 2-5 years old screen time should be less than an hour per day.
For children under 2 TV can distract them from other activities that are of more benefit to their development. Babies and toddlers learn more from watching a real person rather than watching people on TV.
If you toddlers do watch TV raising children network have some great information on how to make the most of TV time.
Tips to Reduce Screen Time
Children can easily lose the ability to play independently at home if they are over-stimulated with regular watching of TV at home. If you think your children watch too much TV here are some tips to reduce screen time for children:
- Make meal time your family time and turn off the TV.
- Turn the TV off after the program has finished.
- Set limits and have rules around screen time.
- Don’t have TVs or computers in your kids’ bedrooms.
- Play music or stories on CDs instead.
Your Favourite Play Time Activities
We asked our readers on Facebook to tell us their favourite playtime activities for toddlers and preschoolers. Here are some of our favourites:
- Building Lego
- Playing with puzzles
- Playing dress ups
- Performing little plays
- Dancing and jumping around to music
- Making cubby houses
- Reading books
- Creating creatures out of play dough
- Playing hide & seek
- Making little obstacle courses around the house or backyard
- Digging and building in the sand
- Going to the park
- Helping in the kitchen
- Playing with streamers or colourful ribbons
- Exploring new gardens, parks or ‘make believe’
- Drawing & painting masterpieces
Do you have another favourite that you’d like to add to the list?Join us on Facebook for other foodie bits and pieces.