Physical activity can be play too! It is important that physical activity is fun and it doesn’t need to be added as an extra on top of your already busy day.

Physical activity is vital to your child’s healthy growth and development, as well as your own wellbeing. Play can be a fun and easy way to integrate physical activity into your child’s life, whilst cultivating love and trust across your whānau.

Play for children 0-2 years:

Babies aged 0-12 months need plenty of opportunities for free movement and floor play, as long as they can do it in a safe environment. This environment should encourage your child to explore and develop skills like reaching, rolling, sitting up, crawling, pulling up and walking when ready.

Even small babies like to stretch and play – you could try placing a large soft blanket on the floor (or on the grass outside) for tummy time where children can begin practicing raising their heads, rolling over, grabbing things etc. This is when skills can also be developed like looking, clapping, reaching, and moving to different sounds (like music or the sound of your voice).

Play for children 2-5 years:

Toddlers and preschoolers need plenty of free time and space to run around and play! This is usually extremely organic as the creativity that our children have is unlimited. There are ways you can facilitate more play as a parent:

  • Use large, soft balls to practice hitting, catching, bouncing, kicking and passing. Start with something small and easy to hold (like a small bean bag) and work your way up with time and confidence
  • Using games is a fantastic fun way to play with your child such as chasing bubbles (extremely cheap), walk along chalk lines or hopscotch on your driveway, jumping over and in puddles, gathering shells on the beach and seeing how many different types you can find
  • Play different music and sounds with your voice and any instruments you might have. This can encourage organic movement and dance, whilst developing rhythm, balance and beat
  • Work on riding a bike, scooter or tricycle under your supervision and support. Using push toys like trucks and small cars will help develop some motor skills too whilst being fun
  • Get outside for a walk with your child, you will be amazed at the things they identify on the journey!

Check out the events around Aotearoa for under 5’s and the whanau to enjoy together here.

There is also a range of activity ideas for under 5’s featured on the Ministry of Health website.

Last updated 27 July 2020.