Importance of Outdoor Play for Toddlers


Going outside improves children’s health
There is strong evidence that young children experience significant health benefits from spending time outdoors. For example:
Young children are more likely to engage in the kinds of vigorous, physical play that strengthens their hearts, lungs, and muscles.7 Regularly spending time outdoors increases opportunities for infants and toddlers to freely crawl, toddle, walk, climb, and run. In addition to improving large motor skills, vigorous physical activity improves children’s overall fitness level. It is also an important defense against childhood obesity.
Spending time outdoors strengthens young children’s immune systems. They experience fewer illness-related absences from child care when they have daily opportunities to play outside.8
There is increasing concern that infants, toddlers, and older children are deficient in vitamin D.9 Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium, which strengthens teeth and bones. One of the easiest, most natural, and cost-effective ways of getting vitamin D is through a few minutes of sunshine each day.
Spending time outdoors positively affects young children’s sleeping patterns. Natural sunlight helps regulate and balance sleep–wake cycles.10
Children who play outdoors are less likely to be nearsighted. Direct exposure to the bright, natural light that comes from being outside may stimulate developing eyes in important ways such as “maintaining the correct distance between the lens and the retina—which keeps vision in focus.”11 
Time spent outdoors provides children with protection against life stresses and a general sense of peace and well-being.13
There is even some evidence that playing in the dirt exposes children to a specific type of bacteria that may reduce anxiety and improve the ability to learn new tasks!14 

Wow! The outdoors provides free medical prevention, education, workout program and entertainment! We didn't hesitate to take our toddler to run around outside and she didn't hesitate to pickup handfuls of rocks and smell flowers. 


You can read the full article here:

This article was developed by the staff of the 
Early Head Start National Resource Center
in collaboration with the Office of Head Start. 

Early Head Start National Resource Center 
1255 23rd Street, NW, Suite 350 
Washington, DC 20037
Phone: 202-638-1144
Fax: 202-638-0851 


http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/ehsnrc/center
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 
Administration for Children and Families Office of Head Start

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