Nowadays, it seems more and more young child are staying indoors and rather play on a tablet or watch shows than get outdoors and play. It used to be that young children were always outside riding a bike, playing ball, and even running around at the local playground.
Establishing a love for outdoors early in a toddler can really set the tone on how that child will want to play and have fun as they get older.
The younger you establish that love of playing outdoors the better chance you have at a raising a child who will always want to head outdoors to play.
There are so many great ways that you can help your toddler love playing outside and reap all the benefits that come from being in nature and physically active.
The Benefits of Children Playing Outdoors
There are numerous benefits of getting your child playing outdoors. There are physical benefits as well as learning possibilities and so many health benefits.
One of the most important benefits that a child gets from outdoor play is physical activity to help them stay active as well and get exercise. This physical activity not only gets their body moving but also helps them to reach their physical development milestones with things like balance and eye- hand coordination.
For example, playing basketball on a toddler basketball hoop can be a great way to have your child develop eye hand coordination as well as have fun chasing after a ball. Riding a bike or scooter helps a young child learn balance and coordination.
The childhood obesity rates are at the highest they have ever been right now and have actually doubled in the past 30 years. You can easily help your young child establish healthy exercise habits by encouraging outdoor play. Most children can be a lot more active and run around a lot more outdoors than they could outdoors.
Even just 15-20 minutes of outdoor play a day for a toddler can help them stay active and stay a healthy weight. This also establishes a healthy routine in their life that they can even continue on as they grow into adulthood.
Another health benefit that comes along with outdoor play is the fact that kids are getting Vitamin D naturally. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently reported that more and more babies and adolescents are becoming Vitamin D deficient which can lead to health problems such as bone loss and even heart disease when they get older. The sun is one the best ways for a child to get Vitamin D.
Lastly, there are so many great ways that you can incorporate learning into outdoor play. Nature is filled with so many interesting things from the plants and trees around us to the weather as well as all the animals and bugs. Even a simple walk around your neighborhood can be educational. Use the hands-on approach for learning about outdoors as there is no better way to learn for a young child.
5 Tips for Encouraging Your Toddler to Play Outdoors
So, how can you encourage your child to get outdoors and play and start a healthy habit of loving the outdoors?
Here are 5 simple tips to keep in mind and remember, the younger you start these habits the better possibility that they will last years and years
Let Your Toddler Explore Outdoors
Of course you are going to want to set some kind of boundaries and limits on your toddler’s exploring but allow them to explore a bit on their own and be hands-on.
Instead of strapping them into a stroller for a walk around the neighborhood or local park, let them walk. It may be a much slower pace, especially at first, but you will find that this builds them up for the longer walks and even hiking you can do with them as they get older.
If you are going on a long walk, consider letting them ride in a pull wagon or even a push along trike rather than in a stroller in which they just sit there.
Set Up a Play Area In Your Own Backyard
If you live in a house or condo that has any type of yard, try to make a spot specifically for them so they have their own area of play. You don’t have to have tons of outdoors toys, but having a few things they can play with will really help encourage them to want to get outside to play with those toys.
Make It a Point To Take Your Toddler Outdoors Whenever Possible
As a parent you are the one in charge of where they play, so make it a point that you get them outdoors whenever possible. Even if it is for 15 minutes in between the rain or put on some layers and head outside even if it is a bit chilly.
There are all kinds of cool things to do outdoors in all types of weather. You don’t have to spend hours outdoors every day but simply making it part of a daily routine can help that habit last for many years as your child grows up.
Plus, adults can use their daily dose of Vitamin D as well and a chance to get outdoors and unwind a bit in nature.
Be Creative and Make It Fun for Your Toddler
Get creative and make it fun for your child to be outside. You don’t have to do the same thing everyday. There are tons of things that you can do outside.
For example, one day you can make a simple picnic lunch and either eat it outside at a picnic table in your backyard or head to the closest park to enjoy your lunch.
Another day you can make a little scavenger hunt for your toddler to see what kinds of things you are able to find in nature. You can do this in your very own backyard or even around your neighborhood.
Another day you can go to a new park or even the zoo to change things up a bit. I know that in the area I live I can find over 10 different playgrounds for my children to play on within 15 miles of my house. Check online at your local city’s website recreation page as well as the neighboring city’s around you to see all the different playgrounds and parks there are around you.
Let Your Child Help You Do Stuff Outside
Gardening can be a great way to get your young child outdoors just about every day and enjoying nature. It can be a great learning experience for a child as well.
There are specific gardening tools for toddlers that are the perfect size for little hands to dig or rake.
You don’t even need a big yard to get your toddler gardening as you can do a few potted plants or vegetables on a porch and most kids would love it. Gardening can be good exercise and what kid wouldn’t love getting dirty?
Plus, gardening is a great way to boost your toddler’s confidence and self esteem as they get to watch their very own plants grow and bloom. It gives them a really nice sense of accomplishment while still keeping them active.
Gardening is just one way that your child can help you outdoors. They can help do things like pick up sticks in the yard or sweep the porch or driveway. Toddlers usually love to help out with “grown-up” things including outdoor chores.
There are so many wonderful benefits of being active outdoors for a child. By establishing this love of the outdoors in your child at such a young age you may not have to worry about your child only wanting to watch TV or stay indoors as they get older.
Playing outside will simply become a regular healthy habit that they can continue doing for years and years all while reaping the healthy benefits.