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A toddler’s legs are super important for them to get the most out of life. They are now much more independent and mobile but if you find that your toddler is a late walker or struggles to use bouncers and baby bikes then perhaps consider trying different things to make their legs stronger.
1. Rule out medical issues
If you find your toddler struggling with their legs, go and see a paediatrician first to rule out any medical issues which is hindering their progress.
Ideally, your toddler should not be experiencing any pain when using their legs. If they are or if you suspect there is an underlying medical reason which may be causing the issue then it’s imperative to get them checked out by a specialist.
If there isn’t a medical cause for concern and the leg problem stems from weakness in certain area which can be worked on.
2. Walk more (if they can walk)
If your toddler can walk, then make sure you give them plenty of opportunities to practise this. Walks don’t need to be mega long but you can both work towards getting more and more distance each day. Use a set of reins if you want to feel more at ease.
It’s important that they are able to use their core muscles in a variety of ways so don’t restrict walking while out if you can.
3. Go up and down stairs
This is an exercise that can work whether they can walk or not. This means you can start doing this exercise from a really young age.
To do it, extend their arms on each side of them and use the handrail for balance as they walk up and down stairs by stepping one foot in front of the other.
Going up and down stairs can be quite intense so sessions don’t need to be long. Each step is like a mini squat and will work those muscles hard and grow new ones.
4. Encourage standing up more
Toddlers are often sitting down and playing with toys or watching TV which is not really strengthening their muscles. Encourage them to stand up as much as they can to get those leg muscles working again.
They might enjoy standing on a small step stool, for example, if this isn’t possible try placing your toddler’s feet onto the edge of the sofa so they are standing on the edge of it.
This exercise will help to increase their balance and coordination as well as strengthening those leg muscles too. This is all important for them becoming more independent in terms of exploring, playing without supervision and even crawling or walking better.
5. Eat healthy food
This is a general tip, not specific to strengthening leg muscles but still worth mentioning. Eating healthy food helps with so many things for the body and can also help you toddler grow stronger legs too.
Breastmilk is still the best source of nutrition at this age but it may not be enough when they’re toddlers, at this age you should be in the full swing of it. Some foods which will be good for this: green vegetables like broccoli, asparagus or peas; lean protein such as chicken breast or white fish; fruit such as oranges, apples or bananas. Can be blended to make eating easier.
Make sure you’re not going overboard with the carbs and sugars from sources like toast, weetabix or milkshakes either because this can be bad for their health in general so it’s worth watching out for that too. There are lots of toddler specific food recipes which are good to try if you need some inspiration on what your child might like.
There are so many healthy foods that your toddler can eat without them even knowing they’re being good for their fitness and health too! It doesn’t have to be hard or feel like a chore, just introduce it gradually as you would anything else and there will come a time where your child won’t know what life was before eating only healthy foods.
6. Be more active yourself
Let your toddler see you more active . If you’re at home, try to do some light exercises such as walking up and down stairs or doing a small workout.
If they see how active you are it’s likely they will want to become more active themselves too – trying out new things like going for walks outside without the buggy which can be just what your toddler needs!
7. Use toddler/baby bouncers
Bouncers are a great way to get some strengthening in for your toddler’s leg muscles. They can be used when they’re sitting or lying down so it doesn’t matter if they have the balance required yet because you’ll still get that all-important stimulation of their limbs and development of those muscles.
Some bouncers may even come with a tray or a small bar that your toddler can hold onto when they’re sitting in the bouncer which will also help them to strengthen their grip.
This is such an easy way for you to get some exercise without even having to do anything and it’s great if you want something low-impact too.
8. Trampolining/Bouncy castles
Trampolines and bouncy castles are a way to get your child to be active without them realising the workout they’re getting.
This type of stimulation can be really good for their leg muscles because it forces them to balance while jumping around and bouncing on the trampoline or bouncy castle!
It’s a great way to get some movement in without having to go anywhere, which is what most toddlers want you to do anyway…
9. Balance bikes
Balance bikes are a really good way to start teaching your child how to ride a bike. They can also be used for strengthening those leg muscles at the same time!
They’re usually less like normal bicycles so they don’t come with pedals – it’s all about balancing and pedaling, which is perfect if you want them to learn this skill in a safe way!
Balance bikes are also good for strengthening those leg muscles because they’re using them more than on a normal bike, so it’s worth checking out if you want to do this without the hassle of getting your toddler used to cycling first.
See our recommendations on different balance bikes for toddlers here – we have ideas for what type might suit your toddler best.
10. Get a good night’s sleep
Sleeping is where the muscle grows and repairs, so this is important for them to get enough of.
If your toddler doesn’t have an afternoon nap, the evening’s sleep will be even more critical as they may not have had a chance to recharge yet in between!
Two year olds should have a consistent bed time.
11. Be consistent
The main thing to remember is that consistency is key. Walking more, eating better food and getting plenty of sleep – these are all things which will have an impact on your toddler’s leg muscles in time but it’ll take a little while for the muscle development to happen.
It may not be easy at first because you’re introducing something new into your toddler’s life, but if you’re consistent they will get used to it and before long healthy habits won’t feel like a chore.
The more consistency you have when doing this the better – so try not to do too many things at once because then your toddler might find it hard to keep up!