Physical Development Activities for 1-2 Year Olds That Boosts Bonding and Energy Levels

Raising great kids can sure be tiring! Between providing the best quality of life we can and ensuring our little one’s every need is met, all while living on very little sleep, it’s easy to feel fatigued. One way you can recapture some lost energy, provide health benefits for you and your child, and increase your bonding is through sharing exercise together.

We’re not suggesting some kind of “baby boot camp,” but rather fun and easy exercises you can do that are good for you both without sacrificing a lot of time. Both parents will benefit from engaging in these activities with baby, and they’re a wonderful way to build trust and relationship bonds for parents who aren’t able to spend as much time interacting with their toddler as they’d like.

Remember, these exercises are meant to be done in short “baby-size” sessions. Fit them in when you have 3-5 minutes and need a quick energy boost!

Try these physical development activities for 1-2 year olds and parents:

Floor Time

The benefits: release stress and build up core muscles for both you and the baby!

Spending time on the floor with your toddler is a great opportunity to get in some healthy stretching and work core muscles. Stretching releases stress increases flexibility, increases blood flow and just plain feels good while strengthening core muscles is a must for good posture and overall strength and stamina. Lack of core strength can lead to backaches, muscle injuries and poor balance. Your baby needs strong core muscles to run, jump, and play!

Key To Success: Make it fun! 

The key is making exercise fun for your child. From a seated position, model simple stretches like extending overhead, reaching for your toes and seated half-twists, and then help your baby mimic them. You can turn all kinds of stretches and simple exercises into a “monkey see, monkey do” game. Mix in basic yoga poses like the toddler-favorite downward-facing dog or resting child’s pose to keep things fresh.

Baby sit-ups are another easy exercise you can do while seated. First, place your baby on their back on the floor between your legs with their feet facing you, then grasp their wrists and hands while gently pulling them into a seated position. Slowly, lower them back to the ground. Parents can enjoy a nice forward stretch during this part! Next, baby can “help” pull you up from your own sit-ups!

Get On Your Feet

The benefits: burn extra energy and build muscles!

As kids grow bigger, they need to move around more. Being active with your toddler is a great way for parents to tap into their kid’s sometimes seemingly limitless energy stores! As your child masters standing and walking, there are many fun exercises to enjoy together that will build larger muscle groups and reduce parental fatigue.

Exercises That Are Indoor Friendly

Dancing is one of the best all-over exercises that can be done almost anywhere, and kids love it! Even if your baby isn’t quite ready for the Electric Slide, you can have a blast moving your bodies to your favorite tunes. Even young babies can enjoy seated dancing, just shake your arms, wiggle your hands and be silly together! Dancing together will improve your heart and lungs, build muscle, strengthen bones and improve balance, not mention lighten the soul.

Squats, toe-touches and arm circles, think back to high school gym class for these basic standing exercises.

Squats from a standing position builds large muscles in the back, glutes, and legs providing us with a better calorie burn. Flexibility and torso/leg strength making us hard to knock over and less likely to be injured when we fall. As you can imagine, this is an important health benefit for toddlers who seem to always be falling over as they learn to walk efficiently! 

Demonstrate the squat and then while holding your child’s hands for stability, help them squat back into a “seated” position, then slowly return to standing. Squats build the muscles your baby needs for climbing stairs, jumping and running.

Toe touches and arm circles are simple exercises perfect for the “copycat” game, but you can gently assist your child if needed. From a standing position, bend at the waist, keeping your knees loose and not locked, then reach down to touch your toes. Hold the pose for several seconds and then slowly roll back up into a standing position. Once there, you can do shoulder touches or arm circles, first big then small, before returning to the toe touch.

Toe touches strengthen and lengthen the muscles in the back and legs, especially the hamstring. They also increase blood flow for good circulation and improves the tissue around the joints. Shoulder touches and arm circles are similar but strengthen muscles in the back, neck and shoulders.

This is just a sampling of some of the physical development activities for 1-2 year olds you can do together. Babies love mimicking their parents, so nearly any type of simple, non-strenuous exercise you enjoy can be turned into a fun game to benefit them as well.

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