If you have a toddler, you’re treated to daily workouts: running after them, squatting to lift them up, bending back over to put them down, using your back muscles to support them when they’re doing their own version of walking.
Balance is essential for young children to learn how to walk and develop other physical skills. But it’s not a given — it’s a learned skill that requires both physical and mental effort.
With proper balance games for toddlers, you can encourage their physical development.
1. Standing on One Foot
Although this exercise is simple for you, it could be a challenge for your child. If they’re having trouble standing on one foot, do it next to a wall so they can hold on for a bit of support. Challenge them to stand further from the wall each time you play, and let them put a piece of tape on the floor themselves so they can keep track.
Eventually, your toddler won’t even need the wall. Challenge each other to see who can stand on one foot the longest — winner gets ice cream!
2. Ladder Bridge
Take a sturdy ladder, preferably a wooden one, and support it with pillows at each end, so the ladder is laying horizontally just a few centimeters or inches above the ground. Challenge your toddler to walk on the ladder from one side to the other, carefully balancing with each step. As he learns how to walk, you can suspend the ladder at different height to make it more challenging.
3. Yoga Time
One of the most effective ways to improve your child’s balance (and yours!) is with yoga. Try simple poses, such as tree pose, cat and cow pose, airplane, mountain pose, downward-facing dog and the forward bend. These yoga exercises will help your toddler improve balance, as well as cultivate self-health and body awareness.
4. Surf’s Up!
Pick a flat and sturdy surface, like a wooden board, that’s wide enough to stand on with a spread stance. Place a cylinder underneath — like a tennis ball container or empty shampoo bottle — and instruct your child to stand with feet a little wider than hip-width. Balance back and forth trying to keep the board on the cylinder.
Add some tropical music to make it even more fun. You can get creative once your little tyke has gotten the hang of it. Challenge them to freeze dance or to try moving feet closer together and further apart.
5. Indoor Hopscotch
This is one of the most beloved balance games for toddlers. Use tape to create nine squares for the hopscotch course on the floor surface and get a coin or stone handy.
The first player will throw the coin in to the first square without allowing it to touch the lines or bounce outside the box. If successful, they will hop one foot on the squares until they reach the top box. On the way back, the player must pick up the coin. The game continues until you’ve reached the final square.
Play your child’s favorite music and have a dance party. Then, stop the music and freeze! If your child wants to win the game, they’ll have to freeze when the music stops and wait until it plays again. This challenges the body’s ability to move freely and suddenly stop, helping your child develop balance.
7. Tightrope Walking
Use a jump rope or piece of string to create a line that your toddler has to walk as if it were a balance beam, placing the heel of one foot in front of the toes of the other foot, step by step. Add toys on the line as obstacles, and challenge them to walk backwards. At the end, award your child with a medal as if they were a professional (toddler) gymnast.