Flexibility is a crucial ability that promotes healthy living, allowing your joints and muscles to move through their full range of motion. More than this, flexibility helps us prevent injury and facilitates better posture as we grow.
These are the reasons why it is important for toddlers to develop flexible bodies. As parents, you should get them involved in twisting, bending, and stretching, among other motions. This way, their flexibility, balance, and coordination would be enhanced, thus helping them grow healthier.
To help you promote flexibility in toddlers, here’s a helpful guide we have prepared for you.
Flexibility in Toddlers
Toddlers have 300 bones - 94 more than adults have. Since they have smaller bones, they tend to be bendy, making them more naturally flexible than adults. As a parent, you should introduce suitable flexibility exercises to improve their bones and muscles. However, you should be careful not to stress their joints so their bones won’t overextend, as they are still forming.
Play and exploration are a great way to safely encourage your toddler's physical development. To help toddlers develop their gross motor skills, balance, and coordination, you can shop for Montessori climbing toys, inspired by renowned Hungarian pediatrician, Emmi Pikler. You can also find other developmentally appropriate toys and equipment to motivate your little one to engage in active play.
Benefits of Flexibility Exercises
Flexibility exercises offer different benefits to your children. More than improving posture, balance, and coordination, here are other benefits your toddler can get out of these movements:
- Increased blood flow of the muscles
- Improved joint health and range of motion
- Maintenance of flexibility as they mature
- Recovery after exercise
- Helping with weight control
- Reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Improving cardiovascular fitness
Best Time for Flexibility Exercises
Before taking on active activities like running and playing kids' sports like soccer, you should encourage your toddler to perform flexibility exercises. Simple stretchings like repeated leg swings, torso twists, and arm circles can benefit your toddler’s overall health.
If your toddler has any injury, you must consult a physical therapist or doctor to ask for the most effective and safest flexibility exercises
Physical Activity Guidelines for Children
Parents should be aware of the limits and intensity of physical activities for their toddlers. To guide you, here are the recommended level of flexibility exercises recommended:
It’s recommended for toddlers to spend 180 minutes on physical activities every day. Moreover, these activities should be spread throughout the day, in outdoor and indoor movements. Some movements they can perform are standing, rolling, and moving around.
Besides these light activities, you can engage them in more energetic activities like running, jumping, hopping, tumbling, and skipping. Other more active exercises you can enjoy include ball games, chasing games, riding a bike, playing catch, and swimming.
For more creative ideas, here are other fun and helpful exercises you can do with them:
Stand on One Leg
Away from any furniture, raise one leg until your knee is pointing toward the front. Your toe should stick to the side of your other leg. Hold this position and give your toddler some time to copy your pose. Challenge your toddler to stay in the pose for an extended period and reward whoever can last in the position for the longest time.
Popular among different age brackets, the scavenger hunt game can help your toddler become more agile and flexible. Pick items like toys, among other objects, to hide within your home. To help your toddler identify the items, prepare a list of the objects with a drawing of each. They can use the list to cross off the items they have found.
But before hiding your toddler’s prized possessions, like their favorite blanket or favorite stuffed toy, always ask them first so that you can avoid meltdowns and tantrums later.
Touch Your Toes
This is another exercise that you can execute first and have your toddler copy you. First, you must stand in a natural position and slowly slide your arms down towards your thighs, shin, and feet. Continue to reach lower until you can feel a stretch in the back of your legs. Hold the position for 30 seconds and encourage your toddler to do the same. You can repeat the same process three times, allowing your toddler’s body to recover in between.
Sit on a Yoga Ball
Buy an inflatable yoga ball and encourage your toddler to sit on the yoga ball as they do other activities like watching the television or using mobile phones. This will help them become more flexible over time. What’s more, sitting on a yoga ball primarily promotes balance and coordination, allowing your toddler to improve core strength and posture.
Find a place free of obstacles, like furniture and other bulky objects. It should have enough space as you and your toddler walk around for this activity. To perform a walking lunge, take a big step forward and bend deeply at the knee. The other leg behind should be stretched out straight behind you. Your chest should be aligned with the bent knee of the extended leg. Next, push against your front heel and stand up.
As you straighten up, take your back knee up high against your chest and repeat the same process using the other leg. You can perform the steps and observe your toddler as they copy the movements.
For your toddler’s healthy development, encourage them to engage in active play. From pulling a toy around and running to some of the flexibility exercises we have on our list, you can support your toddler’s healthy development and even get them ready for any organized sport when they turn the right age.