8 Best Sports For Toddlers (Getting Started Tips)

Sports can help improve a toddler’s overall physical health. It can also help develop cognitive and social skills. There are various sports out there to choose from. In this article, we will explore the 8 best sports for toddlers and tips that can help them as beginners. 

What are the 8 best sports for toddlers?

  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Gymnastics
  • Swimming
  • Roller or ice skating
  • Martial arts
  • Soccer
  • Basketball

These sports are chosen to be the best sports for toddlers for a reason. Aside from their benefits, they are suited for a toddler’s age. We will further discuss below why these sports can be fit for your toddler. 

Why choose a sport for your toddler?

Sports can help toddlers improve their physical health. Aside from its physical benefits, it also helps develop toddlers’ cognitive and social skills. 

Some benefits of sports to toddlers include:

  • Develop muscles and bones
  • Improve motor skills
  • Better balance and coordination
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Overall physical fitness
  • Cognitive advantages
  • Better self-confidence
  • Social skills
  • Teamwork and sportsmanship
  • Discipline

8 Best sports for toddlers

Listed below are eight of the best sports for toddlers which were chosen after answering key questions such as:

  • Is it safe for toddlers?
  • Are the activities involved in the sport doable for toddlers?
  • Is the sport beginner-friendly?
  • Will it provide benefits that are suitable for the toddlers’ needs?

Also included in the list are some tips and advice that may help parents, guardians, or carers familiarize their toddlers with the sports we will mention. 

1. Running

Toddlers are natural runners. Running is one of the basic movements and is a fundamental part of other sports. In itself, running is easy to learn, which makes it perfect for most toddlers. 

Tips to get toddlers into running:

Running for toddlers doesn’t have to be very competitive or too professional like in track and field. While toddlers can dash naturally, they still need to be interested in the activity to maintain their focus.

Start by letting your toddler run free in your house, backyard, parks, and open areas. Running for toddlers should be a recreational activity, therefore it is important to note that it should be:

  • Fun: Incorporate games — such as scavenger hunt, tag, mini obstacle course — which would encourage them to run. Try running together with your toddler/s or let them run with other children.
  • Safe: prevent injuries by teaching toddlers to stretch before and after they run. As much as possible, choose comfortable and appropriately sized shoes and attire.
  • Done within a limited and safe distance. The recommended distance by Nationwide Children’s Hospital for toddlers below 9 years old is 1.5 miles. 

It’s also vital to allow the toddlers to set their own pace when running. 

2. Riding a bicycle

Cycling is one of the most popular sports or activities for toddlers. Most toddlers love getting their bikes when they reach a certain age. This is because riding a bike is fun and it encourages them to feel a sense of freedom and independence.

It is also very helpful in developing the toddler’s motor skills by improving their balance, coordination, and muscle strength.

Tips for biking with toddlers:

  • According to BikeRadar, a website manned by professional cyclists, one way to kickstart your toddler’s interest in riding a bicycle is through a balance bike.

A balance bike is a bicycle without pedals. It’s perfect for them since it teaches them how to balance and steer the bicycle.

  • Toddlers around four to six years old are usually prepared to learn how to mount a bike. However, it’s still crucial that parents gauge if the toddler is really ready.
  • When teaching them for the first time, get the right bike and kit for them. Make sure you get the right bike size. Set the seat high enough that the toddler’s heels can still touch the ground.
  • Remember to also get them the right helmet size. To ensure their safety, make sure they are not wearing anything that might get caught in their bike chain-like loose pants or shoelaces.
  • Designate a suitable area when they ride for the first time. Go somewhere with a flat and level surface.
  • When supporting your toddler, BikeRadar suggests not to hold on to the saddle and handlebars.

“It’s best to stand behind the bike and child, and wedge the rear wheel between your feet and calves. Support them with your hands under the armpits, so they’ve got complete control of the bike – it’s easier on your back too,” said BikeRadar. 

3. Gymnastics

Like running, gymnastics is also perfect for toddlers since most of them have flexible bodies at their age. It is therefore easier for them to do stretches and routines that are required for this specific sport. 

In terms of the benefits, gymnastics help toddlers become more flexible, balanced, agile, and stronger. 

Starting with basics:

Before enrolling your toddler at a local gym, you can teach them some basic movements at home. 

You can start by teaching toddlers a series of stretching and light exercises. Make it fun by playing some music while enabling them to practice their jumps and jogs.

After warming up, they can slowly attempt some of the rolls, cartwheels, and balances.

4. Swimming

Swimming is a good sport for toddlers. Learning it at an early age helps them tackle their fear of heights and water.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), one of the leading causes of death among toddlers is drowning. Most incidents occur among toddlers under 4 years old in home swimming pools.

Enrolling your toddlers in swimming classes may help reduce the risk of them drowning. 

Beginner and safety tips:

  • Provide constant “touch supervision” when the toddler is in or near the water. The AAP suggests parents, guardians, or carers stay within arm’s length and provide touch supervision during bath time or swim time.
  • Enroll them to swim classes. Swimming classes can be beneficial for children as young as 6 months old.
  • Get good toddler life jackets. Invest in good quality floating devices for toddlers. This will help prevent drowning, especially during swim classes. Opt for life jackets that are fit for your toddler’s body instead of floating toys like noodles or rafts.
  • Enforce pool rules. Always apply general pool safety rules at all times. This includes no running, no playing, and no roundhousing near the swimming pool.
  • Acquire lifesaving skills. Swimming lessons are useful, still, parents and carers should pick up some lifesaving tips. One of the essential lessons they should learn is administering CPR.
  • Observe for possible trouble after swimming. Signs of near-drowning usually show after taking a dip. If a toddler starts to cough a lot after swimming and if it lasts longer than 4 to 8 hours, contact a pediatrician. Other signs to look out for are difficulty or shallow breathing.
  • Keep the pool safe. Add safety fencing around the pool. Install an alarm and CCTV cameras in the area. Cover your pool when not in use. 

5. Roller Skating or Ice Skating

Skating, whether it’s roller skating or on ice, is becoming a popular sport nowadays – even among toddlers. For sports like these, balance is crucial – and it is best learned at a young age. 

Some useful tips:

  • Get the appropriate gear.
  • Study the basics.
  • Practice makes perfect.
  • Encourage them.
  • Consider joining classes.

Ice skating is one of the most-watched winter sports in Olympics or sporting events. Watch some videos or clips of ice skating routines with your toddler. Doing this might make them more interested in choosing the sport. 

6. Martial Arts

While it may look and sound intimidating, martial arts is really beneficial for toddlers. This sport teaches them about focus, concentration, respect, and self-discipline at an early age.

It is also a great choice if you and your toddler are seeking a sport that really focuses on physical fitness and self-defense.

There are three martial arts usually offer classes for toddlers including:

  • Taekwondo
  • Judo
  • Karate

How to choose the right martial art for toddlers:

  • Avail free trial lessons.
  • Look for professional, highly trained instructors that teach toddlers.
  • Check the student-to-teacher ratio.
  • Choose the right and safe training facility.

7. Soccer

Soccer is one of the most common sports for toddlers. It is fun and safe for young ages.

Apart from being a great physical activity, soccer helps toddlers to improve their focus and concentration. It likewise teaches them to follow rules, instructions, and directions, Since it’s a team sport, it also encourages cooperation.

Steps to help toddlers learn to play soccer:

  • Study basic soccer rules with them.
  • Allow them to kick the soccer ball. Let them play with the ball and practice their kicks.
  • Invite other toddlers to play. Always remember that soccer is meant to be played with a group of people. Doing this will also help them adjust easily if they want to join and play with a team. 
  • Practice fun soccer drills at home. 
  • Watch soccer games or play soccer video games with them. 

8. Basketball

Arguably the most popular choice of sport for toddlers. Why? Because toddlers can play it alone, at home, with just a ball and a hoop.

Toddlers also love throwing things at a certain age. Parents can make use of this phase by giving them a ball and allowing them to throw it. 

Tips to make toddlers familiar with basketball:

  • Familiarize the toddler by using toy basketball sets or having small hoops in your house.
  • Let them play with the ball. Allow them to throw and dribble.
  • Play with them. Practice their passing by doing it with them.

Related Question

What should parents keep in mind when choosing a sport for their toddlers? When it comes to guiding your toddler with sports, it is important to be very patient. If your child is not interested or motivated to do sports, hear them out. Ask them the reason why. Don’t pressure them to do sports if they are not comfortable nor enjoying it. Most importantly, always remember to prioritize your toddlers’ health and safety. 

Learn about the steps to choose a sport:



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