Sleep and Play
Whilst 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.
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.
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 Mattress-Inquirer.com 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.