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Having fun outdoors with your toddler

Reading time: 0-15 minutes

By now your toddler is full of energy – it can even sometimes seem like they will never tire out! Playing and running outdoors is one of the best ways to get some of this energy used up. It can sometimes be hard to think of new things that will keep your kids busy, so here are some tips and ideas that other parents have used for playing outdoors. Just try not to forget to bring a healthy snack that will keep their energy going until you get home.

What the parents say

Tip #1: Hop, skip and jump!

Simple games, like jumping over the cracks and lines on the pavement on the way home from the shops, can help make a walk with your child much more fun.

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Tip #2: Fun with shadows

Tip #2: Fun with shadows

Tip #2: Fun with shadows

Next time the sun is shining (we might have to wait a while), show your child how they can have fun with their shadow. Can they chase and jump on it? Or make funny shadow shapes with their hands and bodies?  A good game when you’re waiting for the bus.

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Tip #3: Hunting for gold

For a fun game that can keep your toddler busy, hide toys around the garden. Some of the toys can be seen easily, but try making one or two a bit harder to find. This can be a good game to play with them while you’re tidying the garden or hanging out the washing.

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Tip #4: Ball games

Tip #4: Ball Games

Tip #4: Ball Games

This is a nice tip for when you need a bit of a rest from all the running around. How high can your baby throw or roll a ball? Can they throw it above their heads, or can they roll it to the plant pots?

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Tip #5: Singing in the rain

Tip #5: Singing in the rain

Tip #5: Singing in the rain

Even on rainy days (and lets face it, we have plenty of them!), walks can be cheered up by some singing and splashing through lots of puddles.

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Tip #6: Creative fun

A cardboard box can be turned into so many different things in one afternoon. See if you and your child can turn it into a shop, a car, or even a castle. If you’re drawing and painting on the boxes, try and do it outside to save on any mess in the house!

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Tip #7: Give them freedom

Tip #7: Give them freedom

Tip #7: Give them freedom

Toddlers can get really fed up being put in a buggy every time you have to go somewhere. If you have time, try letting them walk alongside you for a more fun journey.

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Tip #8: Slide fun

Has your child tried going down the slide a different way? Next time you’re at the park, see if your child wants to go down on their back, front or head first.

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Tip #9: Bouncy balls

Another thing you can try with your child is seeing how high they can bounce a ball. Or, you could count the number of times the ball bounces at one time together.

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Tip #10: Splashing around

Tip #10: Splashing around

Tip #10: Splashing around

Kids love water so why not fill a tub with a small amount of water and let them splash and move their hand through the water. They can add petals and leaves from the garden to help make a magic potion!

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Tip #11: Travel bags

There’s nothing more boring than long journeys for young children. Always try and take a couple of small fun games with you when travelling on trains and buses.

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Tip #12: Park fun

“Keeping a toddler entertained when you’re a first-time father can be pretty daunting. But getting out of the house for trips to the park have been really enjoyable and we all get some fresh air too.”

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What the parents say

What the professionals say

“For toddlers, playing is as important as eating the right, healthy food. Playing helps them develop their personality and most importantly it’s fun. But playing doesn't mean going out and spending lots of money. Chances are you’ll got loads of things around the house that will be just as fascinating to your toddler as expensive toys. Want to know your child’s favourite toy? It’s you. And playing will help you bond with your child. Kids love playing with parents, using them as a horse to trot around the house. Spend time playing with your child each day, even if it’s only a short period of time. This gives you both quality time together and makes for a happy child.”

Carol Ramsay, Family Nurse Supervisor, NHS Tayside Family Nurse Partnership (FNP)

More information

Our Community & Support page has lots of different places to look for support.  

Last updated: 16 Nov, 2018


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