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Movement skills for life


Babies and toddlers love to play.

In fact, playing helps them learn essential skills. The seemingly simple acts of throwing, catching, kicking, jumping and dodging, can help them develop important movement skills for life.

Active play – which can happen inside or outdoors – is the best way to encourage young children to move more.

For your baby or toddler, these are some of the simple things they love to do to move regularly:

  • Babies (0 to six months) – tummy time, reaching for toys, lifting their head, rolling over.
  • Babies (six months to one year) – balancing while sitting, crawling, learning to stand.
  • Toddlers (one to three years) – rolling, standing, jumping, climbing.

For toddlers, try these fun games together:

  • Streamer fun – cut up some crepe paper to twirl and run around with.
  • Action songs – teach them ‘Ring-a-ring-a-rosie’ and ‘I’m a little teapot’.
  • Catch – use a blow-up beach ball to practice catching.
  • Follow the leader – get the kids to copy your actions. Be as silly as you want to be!
  • Obstacle course – set up an indoor or outdoor obstacle course using furniture, boxes and sheets.
  • Jumping – use a rope on the ground as a river and jump over it.
  • Hit it – put a tennis ball in an old pair of tights and tie it from the clothesline, then use a soft bat like a pool noodle or rolled-up newspaper to hit it.
  • Musical statues – put on music and dance, then when the music stops, everyone freezes.

The Kids at Play section of the website has more fun ideas for active play and activities, especially for children five years and younger. There are also tips to set up a safe play environment for your kids as well as alternative play equipment options. While you’re there, check out our video about indoor play.

Children playing outside with a ball