Are you self isolating with a toddler or a young child?
As a mother of a 22 month old the thought of not being able to go out and run off steam is difficult to conceive. In this time of social distancing with all our usual escape haunts closed eg; playgrounds, soft play. I am becoming very good at thinking of different games and things to do.
If you are lucky enough to have a garden big or small it is surprising how much fun a child can have with a watering can, some mud and a few sticks. But seriously if you want to add some exercise – kids love pushing things, and its surprisingly good exercise. So have you got a plastic wheelbarrow? Why not get some toys or any bright items that they can take in and out of the barrow and push the wheelbarrow around the garden whilst helping to garden. Obviously bikes, scooters, trikes, footballs and catch are also good fun!
If you don’t have outside space or are stuck in the house self isolating then have you seen all those amazing you tube video’s? You can find several childrens’ yoga exercises for the slightly older child, Joe Wick’s has a started a daily workout for kids. If all that sounds too difficult then what about the old fashioned family fun game of twister or getting your little helper to help with the housework.
Young children like nothing better than copying Mum or Dad and dusting, sweeping with a dustpan and brush (clean one) or my son likes pushing the vacuum cleaner (its not really cleaning but its fun). Dancing and playing chase all count as fun activities so give them a go.
For babies exercise is just as important. This includes crawling, reaching, stretching and pushing up. Supervised floor play is great. This can be copied by older members of the family also.
Now after that light hearted section the reason exercise is important is for good normal muscle and growth development. Exercise builds muscles, balance, co-ordination and judgement.
The NHS recommends the following:
Babies (under 1 year)
Babies should be encouraged to be active throughout the day, every day in a variety of ways, including crawling, reaching, grasping, moving their head, moving their limbs and supervised play in the floor. This should include 30 minutes of tummy time spread thoughout the day whilst awake.
If they’re not yet crawling, encourage them to be physically active by reaching and grasping, pulling and pushing, moving their head, body and limbs during daily routines, and during supervised floor play.
Try to include at least 30 minutes of tummy time spread throughout the day when they’re awake.
Toddlers (aged 1 to 2)
Toddlers should be physically active every day for at least 180 minutes (3 hours). The more the better. This should be spread throughout the day, including playing outdoors if possible. This exercise could be light activities such as moving around, playing energetically to also active play such as chasing a ball, climbing etc.
Pre-schoolers (aged 3 to 4)
Pre-schoolers should spend at least 180 minutes (3 hours) a day doing a variety of physical activities spread throughout the day, including active and outdoor play again where possible. The more the better. Of this at least 60 minutes should be of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activities.
All children under 5 should not be inactive for long periods, except when sleeping. So limit the time of watching tv, ipad time. (or in as named in our household Apple ipad).
So I bet you thought my child is skinny it doesn’t matter if he/she doesn’t exercise – you would be wrong. Actually if a child is underweight this often means that their lean muscle mass is reduced and exercise will build this and improve their appetite too. (Tricky possibly with a fussy eater but that’s another topic).
By Natalie McNeece (osteopath)