Posted: Oct 15, 2012 1:09 AM
Helping your child develop healthy habits from a young age will lay down the foundation for a healthy future. Encourage your toddler to eat right and get active. Maintaining an active lifestyle is important for all of us -- no matter how old we are.

Turn off the TV

Television encourages a sedentary lifestyle and stunts the imagination. Turn off the TV and get active with your toddler instead. If you do choose to let your little one watch television, set time limits and make sure the programs are educational.

Turn up the volume

Little ones love to dance. Turn up the volume and encourage your toddler to dance a crazy dance -- include plenty of arm-waving, marching, skipping, spinning and grooving. Dance with your toddler and you'll have fun, bond and get a workout.

Work on balance and coordination

Create a fun obstacle course to help your child stay active while working on his balance and coordination. You can do this indoors by using cardboard boxes, chairs, cushions, pillows, tables and other objects. Outdoors, you can use outdoor furniture, hula hoops and other items. While navigating the obstacle course, you can also teach your toddler about the concepts of over, under, around and through.

Play ball

Even if he can't throw, catch or kick that well yet, every child loves playing ball. Start out by rolling a ball back and forth, then advance to throwing and kicking short distances. Playing ball together keeps your little one active, improves hand-eye coordination and develops gross motor skills.

Get back to basics

The old school games that you played as a kid will help your toddler stay active and have fun. Teach him to play Follow the Leader or Simon Says. Play Duck, Duck, Goose, Hide-n-Seek and tag. Pretend to be different animals -- crawling, hopping and slithering around.

Let him explore

Your child has just started to walk so he has a whole new level of curiosity and interest in getting out there and exploring. Encourage his new found freedom by getting outdoors on a daily basis and taking him to unfamiliar locations where he can explore.

Ditch the car

Make it a habit in your family to never drive anywhere when you can walk. If the park, store or other destination is right up the street, walk there with your toddler. If you think it might be a little too far for his little legs, bring the stroller along and have your child walk halfway and ride the rest.

Lead by example

Your child admires, loves and mimics you. You can't expect him to be active just by telling him to go out and play. Show them that staying active and fit is important by making it a priority in your own life.

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