Toddler boy with tricycle


Staying Active

Being active helps both children and adults in lots of ways. It helps you stay healthy and can put you in a better mood. It is a good way for children to spend time with others and learn social skills. Encourage your child to be active from an early age. Then she will be more likely to stay active throughout her life.

Where to Find Help

First 5 California
Referrals to family services and home visits, from local First 5 commissions.

National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability
Fitness and sports for people with disabilities.

More Resources

Things You Can Do

Helping Your Child Stay Active

  • Help your child learn to use playground equipment.

  • Never force your child to do something that scares her. Active play should be exciting and challenging. But if it’s not fun, she won’t want to stick with it.

  • Make a play area in your house or yard. Ask your child what to include to make it fun.

Being Active After Childbirth

Going back to exercise after childbirth can increase your energy level. It may also ease postpartum depression. And it helps strengthen muscles in your abdomen (belly).

  • Ask your doctor when you can begin exercises to strengthen your pelvic and abdominal muscles after the birth.

  • If you had a C-section, you will need to wait longer before exercising. Ask your doctor when you can begin.

Tips for Being Active with Your Child

Physical activity does not have to cost a lot or take a lot of time. Here are some ideas for helping your young child to be active.

Being Active with Babies

Babies are learning to move and control their bodies. When you play with your baby, you are helping her learn what she can do with her eyes, head, arms, and legs. Talk and sing as you play.

  • Put your baby on her back, hold a soft toy near her feet, and let her kick it.

  • Put her on her tummy. Put a toy in front of her, just out of reach, and let her crawl to get it.

  • Sit on the floor with your baby in front of you. Hold a toy near your side and encourage her to reach and grab it.

  • Play talking and singing games, like pattycake. Ask parents and librarians about other games.

Being Active with Toddlers

Toddlers need lots of activity. Between 1 and 3 years old, they should spend at least 30 minutes each day in adult-led activity. They should spend another hour or more in active play. Here are some things you can do:

  • Show your child how a bunny hops, then do it together.

  • Play “follow the leader.” Run and jump and let her follow. Then let her be the leader.

  • Make a safe place for your child to climb or run while you watch her.


Encourage your child to be active from an early age.

Being Active with Preschoolers

As your child grows, help her gain more physical skills. Increase the time she spends in active play. Between 4 and 5 years old, children should spend at least an hour each day in adult-led activity, and at least another hour in active play. Here are some things you can do with your preschooler.

  • Bend at the waist and try to touch your toes. Then reach for the sky.

  • Put a jump rope on the ground or draw a line. Let your child run and jump over it.

  • Practice standing on one foot, then hopping on one foot.

Safety During Active Play

Watching your toddler play is the way to keep her safe. Check toys and play areas for hard surfaces and sharp edges. Look for a fenced tot playground.

When a child starts to ride a bike, have her wear a helmet. Add knee and elbow pads for roller-skating or riding a scooter or skateboard.

Be Active as a Family

  • Head to a local park, play in your yard, or do some gardening.

  • Look for parks and recreation programs in your area. Often you can find low-cost exercise classes, swimming lessons, and other activities.

  • If you or your child has a chronic illness or a disability, you can get help with being active. See “Where to Find Help” to learn more.