Toddlers are curious, intelligent and wildly energetic. Active play is important for keeping them happy and healthy. Even if you feel less inspired about your activities during the winter months, there are still plenty of ways to pull off the blanket and engage in active play with your child. The following physical activities for toddlers are sure to occupy your little adventurer. Explore something new during family visits, snow days and holiday breaks from school. With the help of these ideas, you and your little one will have an active winter to remember.
The Best Indoor Winter Activities for Toddlers
One of the most challenging parts about staying active during winter is that you must find things to do inside. While brainstorming requires a little more energy, indoor activities don’t have to be boring. There are plenty of ways to stimulate your child’s mind inside while getting their body moving.
Some of the most popular indoor activities for toddlers during winter are:
- Dancing to Holiday Tunes: Go ahead, stay in your pajamas! It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing when you dance. Grab your toddler’s hand, turn on your favorite holiday songs and get lost in the winter spirit. Alternate between fast and slow songs so you can make different movements. Take short breaks to breathe, too. A slow song can provide a restful transition. Involve the entire family and create a healthy and fun winter tradition.
- “Going Camping”: Do you and your toddler love the great outdoors? When the weather won’t allow it, you can pretend that you’re going camping. Start your indoor trip by creating a home base together. This can be a tent made of sheets or blankets. You can also purchase a teepee or toddler tent at department stores and toy stores. Fill the structure with cozy blankets, pillows and stuffed animals. Next, set up a few cushions around the room to act as logs and rocks. Move with your child, looking for things to eat and objects to use while camping. Invite your toddler’s most-loved stuffed animals to join in, too. It’s the perfect way to use up some energy without really realizing that you’re getting active.
- Playing Movement Games: Small children love to play their own version of charades. Ask them to pretend they’re a bunny rabbit, puppy dog or pig. Tell them to show you what the animal does when they’re eating, playing and resting. If they like certain superheroes or characters, you can have them pretend to be them, too. Other interesting movement games include pushing a toy vacuum while mommy cleans, shooting on an indoor basketball hoop and interactive video games appropriate for toddlers and small children.
Popular Outdoor Winter Activities for Toddlers
When dressed in the right clothing, toddlers can still enjoy outdoor activities during winter. Pay attention to the weather—and remember to clothe your child in the same number of layers you are wearing. Fun and comfy toddler clothes make a perfect first layer. If it’s particularly cold, they’ll need a warm hat, gloves or mittens and an insulated jacket. In some climates, snowsuits are essential.
Once everyone is dressed and ready to go, pick one of the following ideas:
- Make a Snowman: Small children love making snowmen. Rolling the snow into different sized balls helps with hand coordination, motor skills and dexterity. They’ll also get to follow instructions and learn more about facial expressions when making the snowman’s face. Bring some items from inside your home, such as carrots for the snowman’s nose and a scarf for placing around his neck. You can even explore for twigs and branches to use as the arms and hands. Sing “Frosty the Snowman” while you work. Your little one won’t even realize they’re exercising—and you’re sure to burn some calories!
- Try Winter Sports: If you’re lucky enough to have snow on the ground, try sledding or tobogganing. Some toddlers are even able to learn how to snow ski or ice skate. Other fun ideas include playing ice hockey on a pond or lake, having a gentle snowball fight or taking a leisurely ride on the snowmobile with mom or dad. While it’s not exactly a winter sport, we recommend making snow angels.
- Take a Short Walk: Whether you have a few moments before it’s time to nap or your child needs to blow off some steam before a car ride, a brisk winter walk is an excellent choice for kids. The fresh air is calming and invigorating, while the sights and sounds will both delight and distract. Hold hands with your toddler and guide them around the block or through a local park. Observe the trees, cars and wildlife. You may even see some Christmas lights. If you’re feeling especially spirited, you can visit a neighbor or sing holiday carols.
Active Play for Toddlers: All About Imagination
Toddlers need to engage their bodies and minds to be happy and healthy year-round. When you pick one of the activities above, you’re sure to keep them stimulated and excited about their day–even in the throes of winter. As you plan your holiday schedule, don’t forget to choose things that fit with your child’s unique interests and personality.
If the activity involves exercise, let them take breaks—and don’t forget their favorite toddler snacks and water. It may be cold outside, but playing and dancing can still cause kids to get tired or sweat. Always provide supervision—and participate with them as much as possible. Finally, congratulate your toddler for a job well done and give them a big bear hug. Each activity will bring you together, grow their bodies and minds and make them healthier.