Winter, a season filled with exciting adventure, awaits toddlers to explore the beautiful chilly season. Bundling up a baby or toddler for outdoor play in winter is an adventure in itself. But don’t let the layers and the battle with mittens deter you. The change in season provides new opportunities for even the littlest to be active and continue their journey towards physical literacy.
While there may not be any snow around the valley, there are still many ways for them to join the winter fun. Here are three ideas to engage and guide babies and toddlers in the great outdoors all season long.
1. Go sledding (and climb back up!)
It’s usually all smiles when soaring down a hill, but less so on the return to the top. Encourage kids of all ages — even the crawlers or those new to walking — to head back up on their own. Join them on the ascent by getting down on your hands and knees either beside or behind them to encourage and help them if they slip. Make it fun by pretending you are bears climbing back up to your den or mountain climbers trying to reach the world’s highest peak.
Be very careful, as there are only so many hills of those sort around the valley!
Required: Nearest small or local tobogganing hill. Sled optional!
Skill developed: This activity helps develop balance and physical coordination and builds strength in the limbs.
2. Play at the park
Your local park isn’t just a summertime destination. Exploring the playground in all seasons helps toddlers build confidence on multiple terrains. Be careful and cognizant of more slippery surfaces this time of year. Stay close to your toddler and be prepared to catch them or lift them down if there is a potential risk or injury or if they lose their balance, footing, or grip, especially those between ages 1 to 2 years.
Skills developed: Park play helps with agility, balance, and coordination.
3. No snow? No problem
Playing outside even in colder temperatures can be a lot of fun. When you’re out for a walk, encourage toddlers to climb objects you encounter such as park benches, logs, and small rocks. Check to ensure they are not icy. Bring a ball to throw and catch with toddlers or roll back and forth with babies.
For toddlers, a simple game of tag or follow the leader (with new movements like walking backward or hopping on one foot) is a great way to get moving and practice new skills.
Required: Open space. Ball option.
Skill developed: Playing catch or rolling balls helps develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Agility is gained through multiple movements like running, crawling, hopping, and jumping.