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Active Play is Good For Everyone!

By Too Small to Fail

Active Play is Good For Everyone!

Ever notice how some young children appear capable of generating enough energy through their movements to power a large city block for a day? Whether by running in circles, swinging their arms or jumping up and down in place for a long stretch of time, many babies and toddlers enjoy levels of physical activity that exhaust all but the most physically fit adults.

A young child’s instinct for movement and active play is an important one. In addition to helping them develop good habits and physical health, active play also helps them develop critical emotional and communication skills that will benefit them through childhood and into adulthood. Physical activity helps children understand how to interact with their environment—like how to throw a ball or hang from a monkey bar—and provides them with the self-confidence they need to actually do those things. And when children play with adults or other children, they learn how to communicate their needs more effectively and better manage their emotions. A research study published in Pediatrics in September 2014 showed that children who engaged in active play for at least an hour a day were better able to think creatively and multitask than other children who were not as active.

Like practicing an instrument, engaging in physical play builds muscle memory and helps children apply new skills towards other activities.

Parents and caregivers can encourage their children’s natural desire to play and move by starting early and getting active with them! Instead of always placing their infants in a sitting position, parents can try placing young babies on a towel on the floor so that they can strengthen their muscles and prepare to crawl or walk. Parents of toddlers can also practice throwing soft balls to them and encouraging them to throw it back, or by singing songs together like “Hokey Pokey”, which encourage dancing and following instructions.

Resources for Sharing:

  • This article from ZERO TO THREE explains how physical play helps children learn, grow strong and become better communicators!
  • Current research highlighting the importance of physical play to children can be found in this story by National Public Radio (NPR).
  • Great ideas for encouraging physical play in toddlers in this piece from KidsHealth.

VIDEO: Watch Chelsea Clinton and Elmo enjoy a heart-to-heart about talking, reading and singing to babies, as featured in People Magazine! >>

Posted In: Newsletter