What parent doesn’t want to see their children grow up to be strong and healthy? Building balance and core strength is critical to the growth and development of toddlers. A lack of core strength and balancing skills at a young age will one day catch up to our little ones, causing difficulties with fine and gross motor skills as they become school age, teenage and so on. Before touching on how to ensure healthy development, let’s dive a little deeper into why it is important.
What does core strength effect?
Without building core strength, the body is more likely to:
- Develop poor posture
- Have difficulty engaging in physical activities and sports, and
- Lack muscle tone
To avoid these difficulties, the primary focus for children working on this should be, first and foremost, their core strength, as the rest of the skills rely heavily on this. Building a strong core early on will set the stage for your toddler to be able to live a carefree and healthy day to day lifestyle.
One thing parents of youngsters want to keep in mind is that healthy children grow and learn at their own pace, and it is okay to notice small deficits in their development. However, it is important to incorporate various styles of active play that will strengthen and improve these muscle movements!
How Do Children Build Core Strength?
Naturally, infants build core strength from the day they start tummy time to the day they are on the move: rolling over, crawling, and pulling themselves up on furniture! Each of these milestones is an important step in reaching the larger milestones such as walking, running, climbing and eventually engaging in more strenuous physical activities!
When they finally surpass that exciting stage of learning to walk where they are hobbling and wobbling left and right, they are now ready to level up and engage in active play! It is important to provide a safe and comfortable environment for the little ones to move and groove and get that energy out. Trust us, they will find a way whether they have the room to or not, so why not build them an active play zone?!
Top 5 Benefits of Core Strength
Let’s dive a little deeper into why these developmental milestones are so important!
1. Proper Use of the Arms and Legs
With a strong and stable core comes full mobility of your toddler’s legs and arms. This will help aid in the progress of mastering activities such as walking, running and jumping. Later on, these muscle movements will eventually progress into fine motor skills used for daily tasks such as writing and eating.
2. Proper Posture and Balance
From a young, children in school are told to “sit straight up” at their desk. But what does that take?
A strong core and healthy posture goes hand in hand with proper balancing techniques. Without one, we cannot have the other! In order to help youngsters attain a healthy posture and strong core, we must encourage different balancing activities. With that, a sturdy core and posture will be key to mastering balance! A child that has had difficulty meeting developmental needs in these areas could experience trouble sitting properly in a chair or walking properly which could then lead to larger issues later on in their development.
3. Gross and Fine Motor Skills
Reaching these physical milestones at a young age sets the stage for a healthy and successful future for our little ones. The earlier they build this strength, the sooner they will gain confidence to try bigger and more challenging activities. They can fulfill their dreams of being football players, ballerinas, gymnasts, soccer players or whatever their little hearts’ desire!
When those tiny bodies lack a sufficient muscle tone, even the smallest and most simple tasks can be exhausting. A strong core helps to build physical endurance in toddlers and that energy and stamina is sure to increase as they grow older and stronger! Without these qualities, a child may lose confidence and therefore also lose interest in physical activities if they feel like they cannot keep up.
5. Physical Strength
Last but not least, challenging your toddlers balance and core strength will ultimately build a greater overall physical strength. Activities used to practice balance typically require the engagement of ALL muscles - legs, arms, core and everything in between!
Exercises That Can Help
Building strength comes naturally while playing, but there are certainly ways to be intentional about the activities we choose to ensure our toddlers are on the right track to a healthy development. Here are a few examples of activities to try:
For adventurers in training, the Balance Blox are the perfect starter to help toddlers engage their core and build the strength they need to balance as they walk across the 2” wide slackline. This expandable and portable slackline is a helpful activity to help kids aged 3 and up learn how to balance. It sits low to the ground so kids are able to fall off and get right back on to walk farther and farther!
Maze Balance Board
Kids will build their core strength and concentration skills with the Double Maze Balance Board! There is so much focus kids have to use to stay on this board as long as possible without letting their feet touch the floor. Kids won’t even notice they’re building their core muscles!
Twist n' Spin
It may look simple, but this is the ultimate core strength builder! Sit or stand on this 10” disc for non-stop spinning and twirling. When kids stand, they have to use their entire upper body to twist and get the disc to spin. When they sit, they have engage their core muscles to balance on the small space without falling off.
Other great activities to help kids build up their balance and core strength:
- Superman pose; lying on their tummies and arms and legs up and down
- Riding a bicycle
- Variety of animal races like frog jumping, bear crawling, and crab walking
- Riding on swings (sitting up straight!)
- Jumping Jacks
Playzone-fit knows that meeting physical and developmental milestones from a young age is crucial for toddlers to grow up to be the strongest and healthiest versions of themselves. That’s why we have developed toys that are not only fun and entertaining for energetic kids, but they encourage daily physical activity that focuses on building strength, stability, and overall health.
So, the next time your little one is ready for play time, remember… play active today for a healthy tomorrow!