Keeping a toddler or young child engaged and stimulated in a positive and healthy way is a challenge. Parents and caregivers have never had so many options at their finger tips. How can you be sure with all of these choices that you are making the best choice for your child(ren)? Providing opportunities for our little ones that nourish healthy and positive habits in a world filled with screens, even for the most dedicated adults, can seem daunting.
Benefits Of Playing Outdoors
Toddlers that play outside have much better overall health than their counterparts that sit indoors all day. They tend to have stronger muscles and bones, and also reap tremendous heart and cardiovascular rewards.
Playing outside also means getting a lot of vitamin D, which comes from sunlight. This can help with muscular development and brain function. It also helps protect against cancer. Having said that, it’s important to use sunblock to protect your little one from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Beyond the purely physical benefits, playing outdoors comes with a lot of mental and emotional benefits. Toddlers that play outside tend to be happier and more energetic. They also have higher levels of self esteem.
Fun Outside Activities For Toddlers
While it’s great to be onboard with playing outside, the real question is what to do? Here are a few fun activities that you might try with your toddler:
- Ride a tricycle.Tricycle rides are great exercise and also a good way for your little one to cover a lot of ground. You can go for a cruise around the neighborhood, or pick a fun destination. For example, your toddler might ride to the playground or to an ice cream shop on occasion.
- Play with a water table.These are particularly fun in the hot weather. That said, a lot of water tables can be filled up with sand instead. This is a good idea when it’s cool outside or when you just don’t want your toddler getting too wet.
- Go for a swim.Swimming is another great summer activity. If you live near the beach, or have access to a pool, you’ll want to take advantage of this one. Just make sure to get the right floatation devices for safety.
- Take a hike.Hikes can be an adventure for toddlers, and a great opportunity for them to explore the world. They are also great exercise. It’s a good idea to bring a carrier or stroller along though, since toddlers do tend to tire out after a little while.
- Play at a playground.This might seem obvious, but it’s a classic. A good playground can keep a toddler entertained for hours. If you’re lucky enough to live near one, you’ll certainly want to visit often. You might even try to rotate between a few different playgrounds in neighboring towns, just to keep things interesting.
While it can be really easy to get into the habit of hanging around the house, there are huge benefits for toddlers to getting outside for some exercise. That doesn’t mean you have to play outside all day, every day. But, it’s recommended that they play outside for at least three hours each day. I look forward to seeing you outside!
Ryan Howard runs SmartParentAdvice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. Ryan writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase for babies and toddlers.