Sleep and Play

Toddlers with trainWhilst your toddlers are busy playing with their train sets it is clear they are having a lot of fun. Play is much more important than you may think though. There are some additional benefits of play though.

Encouraging Activity

Whilst your child is playing they are learning physical skills that help them to gain muscle control, coordination and balance. Even small controlled motions like pushing a train along its track will lead to a more complex physical motion. It won’t take many steps like this before they can do highly coordinated moves like using a skipping rope, jumping over obstacles, ball games and gymnastics.

Toddlers always want to progress on to the next physical activity, so encouraging them to do so speeds up this process. This is a win – win situation as you will get more exercise yourself as well. A toddler who is active at an earlier age is much more likely to be active in their adult life. This is an obvious advantage for everybody.

Encouraging Thought

As well as improving their physical development, play also helps to develop mental processes. Whilst playing a toddler might ask questions. With a train set they will learn about forces and motion as well as colors and shapes. A train set will most likely spark some other interests like wanting to travel on a real train or visit a transport museum.

How much activity is sufficient?

For toddlers aged from 1 to 3 years old 12-36 the current NASPE guidlines (National Association for Sports and Physical Education), recommend:

  • a minimum of 30 minutes of structured physical activity, this is typically something that is initiated by an adult
  • a minimum of 60 minutes unstructured physical activity, this is usually your child playing on their own, adult supervision is, of course, always recommended

Generally you should encourage your toddler to be as active as possible. It is advised that your toddler should never be inactive for more than one hour unless they are asleep. This brings us on to the next subject…

How much sleep do toddlers need?

There’s lots of information on the internet about sleep including the excellent blog which states that, “The standard of 8 hours per night is an average amount for adults. However, infants need up to 15 hours, toddlers need up to 14 hours, school-age children up to 11 hours, and teens up to 9.5 hours.”

Research has shown that children who sleep more are better tempered, have better language skills and develop better cognitive skills.

Is your toddler drinking enough water?

Sometimes when your child is absorbed in play they can forget about almost everything else. Sure when they are hungry they will let you know, as they always have! Sometimes though, a child that is complaining because they are hungry is actually just thirsty. The amount of water a child should consume each day may surprise you.

The exact amount varies from country to country, but generally the recommended daily amount of liquid is:

  • 5 glasses (1 litre) for 5 to 8 year olds
  • 7 glasses (1.5 litres) for 9 to12 year olds
  • 8 to 10 glasses (2 litres) for 13+ years

If you can get your children to enjoy fresh clean tap water in preference to evil sugar laden sodas and soft drinks it is a win win situation. Not only will their drinks cost nothing, it will set a habit that will help them keep a healthy lifestyle for the rest of their lives. A wise investment would be to fit a water filter in your home such as the Sweetwater Kitchen Defender, designed by the ecologist James P McMahon. James confidently says, “I believe it is the best drinking water filter in the marketplace”.

Drinking a health amount of water throughout the day also enhances the quality of sleep you get at night, for both children and adults. Encourage your children to drink more water by drinking more water yourself. Describe it as something like, ‘The most thirst quenching super liquid on the planet’, because, it is!