Balance is one of the most important components of gross motor skills for young children to practice. A child’s balance helps them excel in all other gross motor areas. And the physical activity of the balance activities is great for kids as well.
I called in the help of a physical therapist (who happens to be my husband) to help put together the best balance activities for toddlers.
Why is Balance Important?
These are essential skills that they will use in daily life and for other gross motor activities. Balance is an huge part of a child’s development and builds hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, and body control.
Balance begins with babies doing tummy time. Tummy time builds core strength and upper body muscles that are the basis of balance as they grow up. Skipping out on tummy time can lead to poor balance in the future.
Young kids also practice balance when they begin crawling and walking. All these important milestones are dependent on balance.
As they get older, kids will use balance to run, jump, skip, play sports, and all physical activities. These important skills all start with simple balance activities.
Types of Balance?
Balance can be split into static balance and dynamic balance. There’s simple activities to help with develop both types of balance. Different types of balance activities can work on either one or both types of balance.
Static balance is balancing while staying still. Think of standing on one leg or many of the yoga poses you’ve seen.
Dynamic balance is balancing while moving. This type of balance is common in jumping, running, or moving from one balance activity to the next. The body movement while keeping your balance adds an extra challenge.
Challenge children to practice both types of balance.
35 Simple Balance Activities for Toddlers
These everyday activities can be easily done at home to help develop good balance skills. Most of these fun ideas take minimal equipment outside what you already have at home. Here’s our 35 fun balance games and awesome balance activities:
1. Kicking a ball
Kicking requires young children to balance on one leg while moving the other. This is a great way to incorporate dynamic balance because the body positions happen on the move. Kicking also builds leg and core strength in toddlers.
Find a soft ball to start or a soccer ball to get practicing! You can even make a fun game out of trying to kick the ball to each other or into a goal.
2. Walking on a line
Using painter’s tape or masking tape, create a straight line on the floor. Have them walk along the line as closely as possible. Once they master the straight line, you can make squiggly lines or turns for them to follow.
Alternatively, you can use sidewalk chalk if you want to do this balance activity outside.
3. Simon says
This is a fun way to incorporate balance exercises into a fun game that toddler’s may already know. Think of creative ways to include balancing on one leg, bending over, or hopping.
4. Balance beam
Kids of all ages love balance beams! You can buy a small one here or you make your own with a plank of wood. Balance beams can also be included in playground equipment, so check your local parks.
If you decide to make your own, consider a wider wooden board on the ground first. Once your toddler’s balance is good enough, you can raise the board off the ground using something sturdy on each end.
5. Tightrope walking
This balance challenge is a fun variation to walking a straight line or on a balance beam close to the ground. After you make them a line or beam to walk on, grab some pool noodles for them to hold. Try to make the line or beam thinner, so one foot fits in front of the other.
You can also try the tightrope walking on a balance beam at different heights when they get really good.
6. Stone paths
Stone paths, paving stones, or even curbs are easy ways to incorporate balance outside with materials that are already there. At first, hold your child’s hand while they try to balance on them.
You may have these in your own yard already. One common place is also at the park. We even found some while out on a walk.
7. Obstacle course
Create an indoor or outdoor obstacle course that incorporates different balance activities. Add things like walking uneven surfaces, crawling under objects, or hopping from one point to the next.
Obstacle courses will depend on the skill and sense of balance of the toddler. Adjust according to aspects they like/dislike and what’s at their skill level.
Hopping on one or both feet is an awesome balance activity and so much fun for toddlers. You can draw hopscotch boxes using sidewalk chalk. Don’t worry if your toddler doesn’t get the rules of actual hopscotch. The hopping is the important part.
9. Pillow path
Grab pillows of different shapes and sizes to build a path on the floor. Walking on the uneven surface is awesome for balance. And the softness of the pillows protects them if they fall.
Bowling works on balance skills by having to throw a ball to one side while staying on their feet. You can make your own bowling game with plastic bottles and any ball you have at home. Or you can take them to a real bowling alley.
11. Balance board
Balance boards are a fun and helpful toy to have if you are looking for things to buy for balance. This can be used in a variety of ways and with little adult direction. Try this one.
Walking across the naturally uneven surfaces and small objects helps build balance skills without even thinking about it. You can also build muscle strength by letting them climb rocks or large branches while hiking.
13. Ladder bridge
This balance activity involves placing a sturdy ladder on the ground. Then have your child walk across the ladder to cross the bridge. You will have to hold their hands at first, but, as they practice, they will start doing it on their own.
14. DIY twister
If you happen to have the twister game, great! Or you can build your own twister using paper or sidewalk chalk while you call out instructions. The actual twister game may be too spread out for toddlers, so this is a benefit of making your own.
15. The floor is lava
This game is a fun way to practice dynamic balance by jumping from object to object without touching the ground. Add a few pillows to the ground for more spots to jump. This is perfect for a rainy day!
16. Hula hoop rabbit hole
This DIY game is a great starting point for toddler’s balance using hula hoops and plastic cups.
Place plastic cups upside down in a circle to hold up a hula hoop. This is the rabbit hole. Then set up a few holes.
The kids are all rabbits that have to run and step into a hole when you call out a fox is coming. The goal of the game is to make it into the hula hoop without knocking it over.
17. Red light green light
This is an easy game to teach children to come to a complete stop by using balance. The goal of the game, stopping and starting while running, is a fun physical balance activity. Toddlers may need a few times through to get the hang of the game, so just keep practicing.
18. Block paths
If you have sturdy blocks like these, you can build a path or ‘sidewalk’ for your child to walk on. Then for extra balance, have them jump off when they get to the end. They can even help you build the path and add extra things like obstacles to step over or turns in the path.
19. Balance bike
Bike riding is all about balance but can be a challenge for toddlers. The best way to start is with a balance bike! Kids love them, and they are amazing for balance.
20. Balance stepping stones
Balance stepping stones like these are another awesome tool you can buy to help with balance. Kids love the challenge these stones create.
21. Color jumping
If you have a play mat or carpet with different colors, you can make a game out of telling your child to jump from one color to the next. This also works outside using sidewalk chalk.
Another very simple way to improve balance with something you probably have at home or have access to. Stairs can seem dangerous, but they are a great way to build balance. Just make sure you’re right there to help them.
23. Clapping side to side
We normally clap at midline, or in the middle of our bodies. To help build balance, encourage your toddler to clap out to each side or down by each hip. Clapping outside of midline is tough for them and will take practice.
You’ll notice they may get frustrated, but on’t give up. This one may seem super simple but is actually a big challenge for toddlers.
Dance party! When toddlers freestyle dance, they are actually practicing balance, weight distribution, and body awareness. This may be our favorite balance activity and one of the simplest.
25. Wobble cushion
Wobble cushions like this one are a favorite balance tool used by both physical and occupational therapist. They can be used for sitting, standing, stepping, or hopping off of.
26. Hopper balls
I had one of these as a kid and loved it. This balance activity is unlike any other on the list and also a favorite among kids. You can also use a regular exercise or therapy ball if you have one.
27. Balloon games
Because of the uncertainty of movement from balloons, they make great tools for balance. Have your toddler try to keep the balloon in the air by hitting it. When they have to look up at the balloon and move their body, their vestibular system is working extra hard.
28. Dynamic animal walks
Dynamic animal walks are something every child will love. Have them crawl like a crab, hop like a kangaroo, or even swim like a fish.
29. Static animal movements
If you want to practice static balance, try this! This is similar to Simon says or follow the leader, except this is animal themed. Have them stand on one foot like a flamingo or swing their arms like a monkey, all while staying in the same spot.
30. Freeze dance
First, put on some of their favorite music. Explain to them that when the music stops they also have to stop dancing as fast as they can. This is a fun game to help build body awareness and vestibular input.
31. Bubble pop
While your toddler is sitting or kneeling, blow bubbles towards them to pop. The balance comes in when they have to reach outside their base of support to pop the bubbles. This helps build core strength.
32. Follow the leader
You can be the leader and make sure to include multiple balancing activities while still making it fun. Usually the sillier, the better. Or if you have an older child, have them be the leader.
33. Trampoline balance
Jumping on a small trampoline or even just standing on one leg on a trampoline helps build balance. The bounciness of the trampoline adds an extra challenge for balancing.
Yoga poses are all about balance (think holding a tree pose). They have whole classes you can take or there’s a lot of great kids yoga videos on Youtube, too. This is also a fun activity you can do with your toddler for exercise!
35. Spoon balance
Have your toddler balance a small object or ball on a spoon in a stationary position. Then try a small step. Gradually increase until they can make it across the room without dropping the object.
Balance can be a lot of fun and doesn’t have to take a lot of planning. Choose a few of these activities to try at home this week. If your toddler has balance issues, keep incorporating a number of these balance activities into your daily life.
Check out even more gross motor activities:
Here’s a full list of gross motor activities that are all closely related to balance. Find them all here.