Appropriate sleep for your baby or child can be encouraged with proper exercise. Help your toddler or child to get more sleep by getting them more active. Kids need to be moving more. A sedentary life at an early age hinders a lot more than just your child’s ability to get a good night’s sleep.
Extensive research has been done on how much activity small children should be getting. The research comes from CSEP, The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (do you remember ParticiPACTION in school?) in conjunction with Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute and Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group (CHEO-HALO). They have been concerned regarding the sedentary lifestyles that many of our youngsters seem to be living. As a result, the first Canadian set of physical-activity guidelines for the early years, outlining just how much infants and toddlers need to move for optimum health and development, was released in late March 2012. The guidelines include the following:
- Infants should be physically active through interactive floor-based play several times a day both indoors and outside.
- Children aged one to four should accumulate a minimum of 180 minutes a day of physical activity in different environments. Five year olds should get at least one 60-minute bout of sustained energetic play per day
- No screen time for children under the age of 2 and it should be limited to less than one hour per day for children aged two to four.
Here are a few tips and ideas to get your infant, toddler and preschooler moving:
The main activity for these little ones in their early days is TUMMY TIME. In order to be most successful with this, parents also need to be on the floor in tummy time as well so that their baby is able to receive comforting face-time. Having one or two toys on the floor in order to entertain an infant is also helpful, and remember that many short periods of time spent in tummy time is better than one long, and often unhappy, stint in the prone position. As infants grow and gain more skills, some toys that will engage them are:
- activity floor mat
- blocks of various sizes
- balls and stacking rings
- activity tables
Always remember that most parks have swings that are infant-safe, once your baby has mastered the skill of sitting on their own. Additionally, most babies love a change in environment to crawl around in, or stand at, and parks can be a great place to solidify skills, such as pulling to stand and cruising.
This is a great age to start checking out the various community centre and drop-in programs that are available in your area. A different environment will give your toddlers the chance to practise the gross motor skills that they have already learned in their home-environment. Walks are great as they will give lots of opportunities to talk about what you see, as well as work on expanding communication skills. Puddle jumping and splashing is always a hit, just ensure that boots and rain gear are being worn. This is also the age when a run-bike (i.e. bike without pedals) can be introduced, as long as your toddler has been sturdy on their feet for some time and is wearing a properly fitted helmet. Once your child has mastered using a run bike, start doing short cycling trips with them and watch their confidence soar.
Most preschoolers love the chance to be in control, so take advantage of that and play “Simon Says”, ensuring that the movements are active in nature. “Dance parties” are great to have on those rainy days. Just put on the music and start dancing. Take turns making up new dance moves and imitating each other. The playground is a great place for your preschooler to be active, as well as to learn balance, eye-hand coordination and many other skills that they will need throughout life. And they will love having an adult on the playground with them.