Take advantage of your toddler's energy and need to move around, play games and make sure she gets all the benefits of exercise. 

  • Play music with a big, loud beat, so your child can stamp like an elephant. Then play music that's quiet, so she can pretend that she's tiptoeing past a sleeping lion, trying not to wake it up. Both games will help her imagination grow, as well as her body!
  • Both of you sit on the ground facing each other with your legs apart. You can now roll a ball backwards and forwards to each other without it going out of bounds.

You are most likely your child's favorite playmate, so make sure you get physical with her as much as you can which will help her:

  • Be less prone to anger. Inactive children who start exercising regularly tend to be less aggressive and have fewer angry outbursts than those who are not moving around dancing, jumping, and doing other active play.
  • Cope better with stress - and be less anxious in general. Why? Running around releases endorphins in your little one's brain, those feel-good hormones that make everything better.

Brain Science for Your Baby

You know that toddlers are naturally active!  Encourage them to stay active as they get older!  A recent study (Martikainen S et al, 2013) looked at stress hormone (cortisol) reactions of 258 eight year old children exposed to stressful situations they might experience in school (arithmetic and story-telling tasks).  Activity levels were measured, and the children's physical activity was divided into three groups: most active, intermediate, and least active.  The most active children's cortisol levels went up the least with the stressful situations.  


The authors propose that physical activity plays a role in mental health by buffering children from the effects of daily stressors, such as public speaking.   Although exercise and stress hormones haven't been studied in toddlers yet - it is likely that all that toddler energy is good for a toddler's brain too!  Another way to buffer stress!


More on exercise and stress

A Baby Buffer Prescription for Your Baby

Go for a walk together and take a bucket with you. Collect small objects that interest your toddler -- stones, leaves, pine cones. Your toddler will want to carry the bucket, but don't be surprised if she also dumps its contents and starts again. Toddlers at this age love to fill containers just so then can empty them again! Meanwhile, she's practicing her hand movements and developing dexterity.


Balloon play can be a fun way to develop eye-hand coordination and counting skills for action play, (NOTE: Do not let your little one put them in her mouth!) Here's how to play: Blow up a balloon and pat it up into the air. Count how long it takes to float down to the ground and let your toddler try to catch it.


Marching to music is also easy for most toddlers. Play your favorite music and march around your house with her, singing and clapping along to the beat. Doing so willdevelop her sense of rhythm, as well as provide "exercise" to get her into action play. 

A Baby Buffer Prescription for You  


Exercise helps limit toddlers' screen time. All physical activity-which little ones just think of as active play, such as running, jumping, climbing, clapping, etc.-keeps children from the harmful effects of screen time. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, infants and toddlers should limit the time spent in front of televisions, computers, self-described educational games and even being exposed to grown-up shows playing in the background.  Video screen time provides no educational benefits for children under age 2, the Academy experts say.


You play a vital role in how much active time your little one gets. So, even though you may want to both use a computer or watch television, do both of you good by telling your child,  "Enough computer time -- let's go to the park!", even if you prefer to watch her from the sidelines.





What Your Baby Can Do - Developmental Milestones 


Children in this age range are moving away from their "baby" stage and toward the greater world that they have never been physically able to explore before. Talking, walking and asserting their independence are the hallmarks of this stage, developmentally. Children need to explore...we just need to help them do so safely!


Baby Buffer Blog
Written by Barbara Unell

I distinctly remember the feeling of softly holding my newborn babies in my arms for the first time.  A warm glow flooded my heart that seemed to flow throughout my whole body. That's the feeling of "bonding"-the term researches have given to the close emotional tie that develops between parents and their baby at birth and in the first few months of a baby's life. 

But the truth is, you may feel this instant bond the second you hold your baby, and you may not. You may feel confused, scared, and disconnected at first, and that's completely normal. Like many relationships, it may take time to bond with your little one.


I learned that an important secret to bonding with my babies was to relax and be "in the moment" when doing everyday activities together. Read More

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