You find yourself with a bustling, curious and energetic toddler but you’re unsure of how much playtime they should actually have each day.
Firstly, let’s get one thing straight; there’s not one type of play. Your toddler will need a range of different kinds of play to stimulate their brains and to make sure they don’t get bored. Because no one likes having a bored toddler on their hands! However, screentime isn’t playtime and when possible, should be limited. If you encourage too much screentime, your baby won’t develop critical skills like imagination.
Different types of playtime
Before we get into how much time your toddler should play for, let’s get into the different times of play. Besides structured and unstructured play, there are other types of play within those too. Supervised play is where you take charge and ask your toddler to do something, like make a building from large blocks or to read, which develops their learning and gets them ready for pre-school and primary.
Toy play (or object play) allows your toddler to have sensory play and also allows them to practice their fine motor skills. Outdoor play also acts as sensory play and meshes well with pretend play, which allows your toddler to use their creativity and imagination to have make-believe playtime. Active play either running or kicking a ball can also help gross motor skills which encourage your toddler’s coordination and movement. By the age of around 2-3years old, your baby should be walking and running with confidence. If you’re worried about your toddler not developing at the average rate, consult with your pediatrician for advice.
So how much playtime do they need?
Well, it really depends on your child and their age and how many sleeps they are having during the day. If your toddler gets tired more easily or is still having multiple naps per day, 30 mins – 1-hour blocks of structured or unstructured play can be enough time for them. But as your child gets older these blocks will increase.
Inside play should be mixed with active or outdoor play, with your toddler getting ample time every day to run and be physically active. Getting their body moving is just as important for their development and to encourage an active and healthy lifestyle.
Your child will guide you on what they want to do and for how long. Sometimes you might get a toddler that can last up to two hours of play on one activity. Remember to always supervise your toddler, positively reinforce and let your kids be kids!