Physical Development in Toddlers

Oct 20, 2020 | Read time: 4 mins

Oct 20, 2020 | Read time:

Fostering a child’s physical development sets them up with lifelong skills for wellness and a love for physical activity. You might wonder how this is possible within the confines of your home given the current context – we’re here to help!

Before we get into what you can actually do for your child’s physical development, you must know that children who are active in the early years (0-6 years) are seen to develop healthier lifestyles as adults and have fewer behavioral problems. Physical development of the child is tied to other development areas and lots of active play along with balanced nutrition promotes better physical and cognitive health. Toddlers need a lot of physical play that would help develop their gross and fine motor skills. They are filled with lots of energy and they need an outlet to help them stay focused, gain muscle control, balance, and hand-eye coordination.

Here are some easy-to-do physical development activities which can be easily added to a toddler’s daily routine


For wrist strength :

Pounding, hammering, opening lids and knobs, chopping boiled vegetables using toy/ plastic knife.

For finger strength:

  • Playdough – manipulating playdough often calms a child and the child can explore it by patting, moulding etc. It helps in the development of fine motor muscles.
  • Allow children to peel fruits such as banana, orange using their fingers. You can involve them in shelling peas too.
  • 3.Doodling – comes under pre-writing and allows children to use their fine motors to make markings. Toddlers cannot actually write at their age so it is essential to get them started with doodling as a training activity. During prewriting, children go through different developmental stages such as forming different grips such as palmer, quadruped, tripod etc. All these help the child develop various muscles which are needed for writing in the later years.

For eye-hand Coordination :

Pouring/scooping sand, water, pulses, etc. can keep them engaged for a long time.


The bigger muscle development requires a lot of physical movement like balancing and walking, running, jumping, climbing. These different kinds of movement help develop muscles and coordination. Allowing a child to participate in gross motor activities also help in developing additional skills such as problem-solving.

“Children learn as they play. Most importantly in play, children learn how to learn” O. Fred Donaldson

  • Treasure Hunt/ Creating a maze – Giving outlets for physical movement is very important for the physical development of a child. Simply having a game which involves movement adds to the excitement. A lot of muscle development is very important at this age.
  • Arranging blocks on the floor at one step distance each. The child can jump over the blocks.
  • Variations of passing the ball – over the head, from both sides, over the shoulders, etc.
  • Balancing and walking on a line/ beam
  • Outdoor play in the park

Outdoor play is good but in moderation. An hour of outdoor play twice a day is good for a toddler. It has been observed that active children who are always on the move find it difficult to be engaged in sitting activities, their muscles are unable to relax. Thus, it is important to add gross motor activities that involve sitting. Some examples are given below.

  • Sitting and rolling a ball,
  • Simple stretching games like lying down and cycling
  • Action rhymes such as Rolly Polly, Head, and Shoulders, etc.
  • A little massage before going to bed will help the muscles to relax.

“Rough and Uneven surfaces, provide opportunities for the development of physical strength, balance, and coordination.” Claire Warden 2010

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With children out of school, physical distancing as the new norm, and children’s rights under threat, the new world order has “turned back the clock” on years of progress made on children’s well-being. However, it’s not all bad. As a human race, we’ve been built to adapt: we’ve seen a tipping point in technology-enabled education and the promise of a new education policy in our country.

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