The days are long, the flowers are bursting into life – it’s a great time to get outside with your toddler for some really serious physical play.
Research shows that kids who play outdoors regularly have better co-ordination and balance,higher creativity and better social skills.
At a glance
- Increases co-ordination and balance
- Get the wellies ready
- Keep your little ones healthy
When they’re older, they even do better at school.
And as mums tell us, when their little ones play outside in the fresh air, they notice they’re calmer, less frenzied and they tend to eat and sleep better too.
So what’s not to like? You don’t even have to wait for a nice day: if they’ve got wellies and a coat/waterproof suit, there’s a whole world of splashing fun out there to be had.
If they’re reluctant to go outside, it can help to have some exciting toys for the garden.
These don’t always have to be specific outdoor toys: just anything that can be cleaned after a dunking in the paddling pool or sandpit.
Playing outside is an important part of a toddler’s daily activity target. Once they’re walking
– this can happen any time from 10 months to two years – the Government advises that they get three hours of physical activity a day.
This includes walking and standing as well as higher-energy activities like scooting, chasing and running.
Walking is just the first of many physical skills your toddler will be developing in the next couple of years. As their first wobbly steps become more confident, they’ll learn even more of what psychologists call ‘gross motor skills’ - reaching, bending, kicking, jumping, pushing and pulling – as well as balance and co-ordination.
That’s why ride-on toys such as the Jeep 3-in-1 Ride-On from Mega Bloks are so good for their development: there are several physical skills they can practise before riding off into the sunset (or at least the bottom of the garden). First they have to work out how to balance while lifting one leg over the seat in order to sit down. Then there’s another challenge: how to move themselves forward?
You can also see more about your toddler's development with our milestones chart.
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As your little one is working it all out, they are developing their cognitive skills and concentration too, as well as their balance and co-ordination. Watch them as they work out how to steer and move forward at the same time, while beeping the horn.
Now that’s multi-tasking for you.These are not just toys for boys: girls love ride-ons too (Jeep 3-in-1 Ride-On also comes in pink if that’s your little girl’s favourite colour). She’ll love climbing on to the toy, starting up and driving away – just like mum does in the car.
Outside play can also be really valuable for encouraging your little one’s ‘fine motor skills’ – these are the smaller, finer movements that will be so important when it comes to learning to write later on.
Smaller toys such as the Lil Vehicles from Mega Bloks are a great way to work on these skills, as they have to manipulate the cars and take the drivers in and out. If you have a sandpit, you can help them create a whole driving track, complete with hills for the little cars. Or you could use chalk on the patio/path to create a network of roads. Add in some blocks or bricks to make houses, perhaps a farm or a trainset, and you’ll have enough to keep them happy – and healthy - for hours.