What to Know About Sports for Toddlers

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on November 11, 2022
5 min read

You may think toddlers are too young to play outdoors, but there are several sports for 2-year-olds to enjoy. Sports for toddlers help them stay active and have various health benefits.

Read on to learn more about the best sports for toddlers.

Children love to play, so sports and games can be fun for kids of all ages. For toddlers, sports should be about enjoyment and activity rather than competition and physicality.

If you have a toddler, it’s good to start sports at a young age to encourage movement and play. It lays the foundation for an active lifestyle as your toddler grows up. You can engage in activities with your child to set an example, such as by taking walks or playing close-up catch. Also, sports toys for toddlers, like wiffle ball sets and NERF balls, can promote physical activity and fun.

Toddlers are too young for competitive, structured sports. At their age, free and unstructured playtime is ideal, primarily because of their limited abilities. Their vision, coordination, and balance are still developing. For instance, they can’t track a moving object and coordinate their movement to catch it. 

Toddlers also have short attention spans and won’t be able to follow instructions or rules required for organized sports. They tend to learn by exploring and copying your and others’ actions. Participate in physical activity with your toddler so you can be their role model, and so later on they can follow along more easily.

As your child grows older, their skills will improve. They will develop better vision, attention spans, coordination, and motor skills. They get better at understanding and following rules and instructions. At the age of 6 years and above, you can encourage them to join organized sports like soccer, tennis, gymnastics, or martial arts. Over time, their physical skills and ability to practice sports will improve.

Sports for 2-year-olds include basic, easy-to-do activities like:

  • Crawling
  • Walking
  • Tumbling
  • Lifting
  • Running
  • Throwing
  • Catching
  • Swimming

You can also play simple games like hide and seek with them without too many instructions. Another way is to let your toddler play with toys and equipment like slides or swings. Your toddler’s skills can improve through these basic activities. They don’t need organized activities at such a young age.

Sports toys help toddlers positively engage with physical activity and enjoy it more. Push-and-pull toys with or without large wheels are great for children to walk around and play. You can get your child doll carriages, sleds, wagons, or wheelbarrows. You can also let your toddler ride small rocking horses or toy cars and tricycles propelled by their feet.

Playground equipment can be another great way to engage in an activity. Under your supervision, you can make your toddler sit on low slides and hold them as they slide down. It can be a fun, new experience. Also, most children love swings. Sitting in small, soft, curved swings with restraining straps can be a lot of fun for toddlers, but make sure you’re around to push the swing and supervise.

Using climbing platforms, playing in a small sandbox, and crawling through low-lying tunnels are enjoyable activities, too. You can also allow your child to catch and throw soft and lightweight balls, large balls, and chime or flutter balls. All these toys and equipment help toddlers play and run around in an unstructured way, and they help develop strength, coordination, balance, and motor skills

Kids also love to play in the water. Another fun way to promote physical activity is playing in an inflatable kiddie pool with lots of toys. Avoid small toys that fit in the mouth. Also, keep an eye on your toddler and stay nearby throughout playtime.

Use toys and equipment that are age-appropriate and safe for your toddler. They should be non-toxic and not have small, detachable parts to avoid choking hazards.

Outdoor sports for toddlers can be a great way to have fun and stay active, and they have several health benefits. They help your child:

  • Learn new skills 
  • Gain confidence
  • Improve social and personal skills
  • Develop healthy bones and muscles 
  • Reduce the risk of obesity
  • Improve fitness, coordination, and balance
  • Improve sleep and mental health

Here are some safety tips to follow during playtime:

Choose age-appropriate toys and equipment. Check the rules and age limits when you use play equipment or sports toys for toddlers. Use toys and equipment that are safe for your child’s age.

Avoid competitive sports until your child is ready. Children, especially toddlers, should not play competitive team sports. It can affect their confidence, self-worth, and mental health at a very young age. They need to understand that winning or losing doesn’t matter and that their self-worth is not based on it.

Stay with your child during playtime. It’s important to stay near and observe your toddler throughout playtime. Engage and participate in their games. It will help you bond with them and keep them safe.

Prioritize your child’s safety. Outdoor sports for toddlers carry risks of falling and injury. Appropriate equipment and toddler sports gear are essential to protect your child from potential injuries.

Children playing sports are prone to injuries because of their lack of coordination and balance while running or sliding. To avoid sports injuries, make your toddler wear the proper protective gear. Use knee and elbow pads and wrist guards for all sports with a risk of falling. These are especially useful when riding a toy like a tricycle. You can also make them wear helmets to prevent eye and face injuries.

Children of all ages should get enough physical exercise or activity each day. It helps boost their mental and physical health. 

Playtime and basic sports can help keep your toddler fit and active. It also helps teach your toddler new skills. Allow your child to participate in different activities, and prevent monotony by alternating between activities like running, playing in the park, and swimming. Always ensure that the physical activity you pick is enjoyable and appropriate for your child’s age and ability.

At a younger age, let your child have fun and play rather than develop skills, practice a sport, or win a game. As your child grows up, you can choose the right sports programs for their overall development.