There is absolutely nothing more fun and enjoyable than playing with your toddler. As a proud daddy to six kids between the ages of 19 months and 26 years old, I have so many fond memories of playing with my children as toddlers.
Often, during the first year, Dad can feel a bit left out; as the majority of the bonding tends to happen between Mommy and Baby, especially if she is nursing.
During this stage there’s lots of build-up and anticipation for the future wherein you can almost see that sparkle in your toddler’s eye that says, “I’m almost big enough to hang out with you, Dad!” As you’re waiting for that special day, you watch as your baby begins to pull up, toddle around, and finally – walk! Of course these actions make every parent ecstatic – daddies especially.
Toddler play is a must for dads and their kids. Here are a few activities that are favorites within my household – with two young boys:
Playing Outside: It’s so important to get outside to go for a walk or play at a park. There’s so much that your child can learn while outside, and getting the added bonus of Vitamin D is great for both you and your toddler. My boys love to go exploring. We look for bugs, like rollypollies, and we watch for neighborhood kitties. While engaging in this playtime we are practicing how to count, walk, observe and so much more. When in doubt, get outside!
Playing On the Floor: As a daddy you can’t be afraid to get down on the floor to play with your child. Being on your child’s level gives you the opportunity to be even more engaged. My boys and I like to wrestle on the floor, build castles and towers, make puzzles, etc. So roll up your sleeves, and get a little dirty – that’s what it takes sometimes.
Playing in the Evening: My boys and I always make a point to play after bath time. This release of energy can actually help settle down your toddler and get them ready to go to sleep. And if you’re a parent of a toddler, you know how important that sleep really is. So consider toddler play in the evening, and have fun.
Whatever you do, don’t forget to smile and laugh with your growing child. And make sure you cherish every moment, as time seems to fly right by.
Robert Nickell, aka Daddy Nickell, father of 6, offers his “5 cents” worth of advice to expectant and new parents. Daddy Nickell is the founder of Daddyscrubs.com, delivery room duds and daddy gear for dads, and the Daddyscrubs.com blog where he covers topics about parenting and the latest baby and kids gear, all from a Dad’s perspective.