Any form of physical activity, including playing, is important to your child’s development.
Physical activity is important for a child. It will help him develop his motor skills, build strong bones and muscles, enhance social and communication skills and achieve a healthy weight.
Toddlers should be encouraged to have at least 180 minutes of physical activity spread out over the course of a day. Consider spreading the physical activity in between periods of inactivity.
Get your little one to be active at least 180 minutes a day doing a variety of physical activities at any level of intensity. At this age, more is better. Crawling, climbing, pulling a toy around, running and walking are all great workouts!
Continue to aim for 180 minutes of activity a day. For kids this age, 60 minutes of the time spent actively should be of moderate- to vigorous- intensity. Kicking a ball around, riding a tricycle or running after their siblings are different wonderful ways to clock those 60 minutes. These activities can be spread out through the day!
You may have heard of the saying “children learn through play”. That is true because play requires active, spontaneous participation from a child. It engages his mind and helps develop his language, motor, social, creativity and problem-solving skills.
Children seem to have boundless energy so teach them how to have fun while being active!
Try these with your child:
Bring him to the playground in the evening when it is not too warm. Encourage and help him climb up and down the stairs in the playground. Go for a walk with your toddler on sand, grass or different surfaces to help develop his/her balance. Engage your child in simple activities such as sand play or picking up objects (e.g. leaves or twigs) You can name objects and ask your child to touch things as he/she walks. This helps to develop your child's physical and language skills.
You can also engage him in water play at the pool with supervision. Do not include activities such as reading, playing games on hand-held electronic devices or other forms of near work activities at this age. Instead, your child should be doing activities that involve the movement of his/her whole body. It has also been found that spending time on outdoor activities may reduce the risk of developing myopia (short-sightedness).
If the weather does not permit, your child can keep active indoors too. Even reading a book can be turned into an activity. Act out the characters and their actions, and have fun with your child. Through dress-up and role-play games, he can imitate behaviours that he sees and learn interactive, social and negotiation skills. Movement rhymes such as “The Wheels on the Bus” and “Hokey Pokey” are not only fun to learn but encourage movements too. You can also try simple play activities such as chasing balloons around the house and catching the balloon with both hands. Pulling along a toy while walking is great too.
Early exposure to television is not advisable as it has a negative impact on development. Exposure to television before the age of 3 years old has been linked to delayed language development, attention disorders, and impaired social as well as classroom engagement.
Let your child try different physical activities and encourage him to explore different equipment at the playground with your supervision. Being overprotective may hinder his exploration and development.
Children need to engage their senses to learn and process information. Do activities that allow them to see, hear, touch, taste and smell. Try baking muffins or cookies and decorating them. Children love helping to mix the ingredients and watching them blend together.
A physically active child will grow up to be an active adult and continue leading a healthy lifestyle.
Here are some tips to help your child adopt a healthy lifestyle:
Involve your child in different types of physical activities from young. This will cultivate his interest in these activities, and he will be more likely to continue with an active lifestyle as he grows up.
Make time for daily physical activity. Try incorporating it within the daily routine through structured and unstructured activities such as getting your child to help with the household chores (keeping his toys in a container or wiping his own table), using the stairs instead of taking the lift or alighting one stop earlier and walking with him to the destination.
Limit time spent on sedentary activities such as watching television to less than two hours per day. Break up sedentary activities (except time spent sleeping) lasting longer than 90 minutes with 5 -10 minutes of moving around, playing, standing or doing some physical activity.
Set a good example and participate enthusiastically in different types of physical activities with your child. Take the lead and be proactive!
Gifts such as balls can provide your child with a pleasant surprise and endless hours of physical activity.
Weekend outings need not be sedentary. Plan a family outing to the park where everyone can explore these open spaces or simply run around, or to malls where there are opportunities for your child to play at the playground or water play areas. This will allow you and your child to engage in physical activity and also promote family bonding.
When your child becomes a toddler, he will enjoy exploring open spaces. Bring your child to the playground and other beautiful green spaces.
Here is what you can expect from some of the parks in Singapore:
For more information on parks and gardens, please visit the
National Parks Board website.
Some malls provide great avenues for active play with their playground or water play areas. Parental supervision is necessary during play. Many of these malls have diaper-changing and nursing rooms, child-sized basins, toilet bowls, seats and boys' urinals.
Some of these malls are also Health Promoting Malls (HPM) which provide a range of opportunities in the form of events, facilities, products and/or services for its shoppers, employees, tenants and the local community to improve their health.
For more information on HPM, please visit the
Visit Parent Hub, for more useful tips and guides to give your child a healthy start.
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Read these next:
1. Activity, M. P. (2019, April 2). Guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under 5 years of age. World Health Organization. Retrieved September 2021 from https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241550536
This article was last reviewed on
15 Sep 2023
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