7 best ball games for toddlers: good for motor development

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  April 13, 2022

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Toddlers are active, curious and in full development.

Young children therefore need a lot of stimulation, encouragement and guidance.

By playing the right games you can positively influence the motor development of your child.

Ball games are ideal for toddlers because they cater to their abilities and interests!

To make your busy life a little easier, we have listed the best games for you.

Young children need a lot of positive affirmation. So keep in mind that games that are still too difficult can actually be frustrating.

Motor development

Your baby's development to toddler (both physically, mentally and emotionally) goes in small steps.

Motor development in a child is about learning to move. This can be divided into gross and fine motor skills.

  • gross motor skills: as the name implies, this involves large movements. Think of movements such as crawling, walking, swinging, standing, sitting, cycling, swimming and so on.
  • Fine motor skills: this concerns the small, finer movements and hand motor skills (so especially the muscle development in the hands and fingers) such as writing, making crafts, coloring, tying shoelaces and grasping small objects. Fine motor skills require more concentration from the child.

The timeline of these developments can differ per child; with some children intermediate steps go very quickly and in other cases it takes a little longer before a child is ready for the next phase.

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There are generally a number of milestones that you can hold on to as a parent.

One of them is ball games. This is a fun way to play together, but you will also be able to easily see the growth of your child.

Shooting a ball, but also walking and swimming movements that we can identify under gross motor skills.

The best ball games for toddlers

When a child is about one year old, she often begins to show an interest in a ball.

The child will try to control a ball by throwing or kicking it.

Only if a child between 3 and 4 years motor skills will be further developed, which gives him or her the opportunity to also learn to catch the ball.

Over the years, your toddler's sense of balance and hand-eye coordination will improve.

Roll the ball

It may be best to start with a soft ball so that the little one doesn't get hurt.

  1. Sit opposite each other and get the child's attention by saying, for example, "Watch out, the ball is coming!"
  2. Now you roll the ball gently towards your child. He will be completely happy when the ball comes in his or her direction.
  3. Also show how your little one can roll the ball back to you.

You start close together first. When that is easy, you can keep increasing the distance between you.

This simple game is a lot of fun for toddlers. It is also a fantastic lesson in waiting your turn.

In addition to a soft ball, you can also take a plastic or rubber ball.

To make it even more fun, you can create a strip between you and your child along which the ball will roll. You can do this with your legs, or with the wall, or a bunch of books.

Many children will find it easier to throw the ball back than to roll it. Rolling requires more control and focus. Help your child to control the rolling movement as well.

Later, you show your child that you can not only throw the ball, but also kick it.

Rolling a ball back and forth helps your child develop hand-eye coordination. This is an important skill that helps not only throw and catch, but also eat, draw and write.

Throw the ball

Throwing a ball is another simple yet educational game for toddlers to mobility to improve.

In addition, a child learns to share and play with others.

By the time your child is two years old, they can already hold the ball well, keep their balance and it's time to start practicing throwing and catching a ball!

If this is still difficult, try it with a balloon first. A balloon is of course much lighter in weight and moves more slowly through the air, which makes throwing and catching easier.

except it play together, the development of motor skills, sharing and throwing and catching, teaches a child about social roles and self-control in a playful way.

After a while you may be able to use different types of balls (different shapes, weights, etc).

Of course you can also make / invent ball games for toddlers yourself.

Ball games are for sale, but you can also easily make your own ball games for your kids!

If you have a little free time, you can create really fun games with little stuff. We will give you some ideas.

Balls form a stove

A super fun DIY idea! All you need is a cardboard box and balls.

Cut or cut circles in the cardboard box, through which your child can push the balls.

To make it even more fun, you can give each hole a color, where your child is supposed to push the ball of a certain color through the hole of the same color.

You can also make the holes of different sizes and adjust the balls accordingly, so that a child understands which ball will or will not fit through a hole. A child learns a lot of things at the same time!

Ball pit

If you have an inflatable pool at home, you can fill it with ball pit balls (you can buy these everywhere, even at the thrift store!).

If the weather is nice, you can also fill the pool with some water and throw the balls in it.

Play with ball pit balls is a perfect sensory activity, and kids love it a lot!

You can even fill your travel cot with balls for a real DYI ball pit.

Golf or shuffleboard

You also need one or more cardboard boxes for this game.

For example, you make various gates with a number of points each. The intention is to aim the balls (for example golf balls) in the gates.

Make each gate different in width and also assign different scores to the gates. The narrower gates should yield more points than the wider gates, because it is more difficult to aim your ball into a narrow gate.

Whoever has scored the most points (for example with 5 attempts) wins!

Or do you prefer a traditional shuffleboard, just like the old days? View the junior edition here.

Tin throwing

What does a child like more than knocking over towers?

Stack up some old cans like a pyramid and have your child throw a ball at them.

Organize a competition and give a prize to the child who knocked over the most cans!

This game is also fun with bottled water, provided the weather is nice outside.

Ball in the bucket

Throwing is not always desirable in the house, but one thing is for sure: children love it!

Suppose the weather is bad outside, you can put a bucket in a corner and throw balls with your child. Anyone who manages to aim in the bucket gets a point.

For example, place a mat where you have to stand on to aim the ball in the bucket. You can make it a little more difficult for your child by moving the mat a little further back.

Do you not have any balls in the house and do you not have the opportunity to run to the store at that moment? Then go for a pair of rolled-up socks, they can be used just as well as balls!

Ball games you can buy

In general, little is needed for ball games. Sometimes a ball alone is enough!

But there are also a number of ball games that you can buy ready-made in the store. These games are designed to challenge your child and stimulate healthy development.

Here are some of our favorite games.

There are nice play tents with balls that bring a lot of fun!

For example, tents can be used indoors and outdoors and you can clean them up after playing.

Looking for fun play tents for children? watch here our top 12 best play tents!

But a game of bowling or skittles are activities that young and old love to do.

With the BS Toys mini skittles game you get 10 pins and two balls. Put down the skittles and try to knock them all down with the help of the balls:

Lifetime games mini bowling game

(view more images)

This toy stimulates the hand-eye coordination and motor skills of kids. Children learn to aim well and to estimate speed and power when they throw the balls towards the cones.

The balls are made of wood, which gives this set an authentic look. The cones are hand painted in red and white.

Suitable for children from 3 years.

Why play with a ball?

Balls are familiar play material for most children. Balls invite you to play, alone or with others.

Most children are already familiar with a game with a ball, which can be very simple.

You have balls of all shapes and sizes, suitable for different ages. The bigger the ball, the easier it is to catch.

To make a game more difficult, a somewhat smaller ball can be used.

Playing with a ball allows you to use many different body parts: your hands, feet, torso, head, and so on.

Balls also bring a lot of variation in the game, because you can use a ball in different ways. You can roll, throw, bounce, kick, catch a ball. All this stimulates the motor skills.

Also Read: The Complete List Of Toddler Games To Never Get Bored

The motor skills of children at different ages

A child can do different things at every age stage.

1,5-2 jaar

This is a good age for the football parents; you can finally play soccer with your little one!

The child will now be able to kick a ball without losing balance.

2,5-3 jaar

Playing games with toddlers is getting easier now.

Throwing and catching a large ball and throwing it in a certain direction will be smooth.

3-4 jaar

Your child can now easily catch a ball with two hands, although it will still press the ball against the body.

In addition, it will also be able to throw the ball from over the head.

4-5 jaar

Your child is now undergoing a development from toddler to toddler.

A small ball can now be introduced, catching and throwing shouldn't be a problem.

5 years and older

It is important to continue to encourage ball games from the age of five. They are a challenge for your child.

It may also be time around this age to find a sports club and have your child part of a sports team.

Let your child try different sports and find out where his or her interests lie.

Ball games for toddlers: definitely a good idea

As you can see, ball games are fundamental to the healthy development of any child, especially toddlers.

Kids love to play with a ball, and it often takes very little. As a parent, make sure that you always challenge your child by slowly making the ball games a bit more difficult.

Ball games are available everywhere and there are a lot of fun options to be found. You can also choose to make or invent ball games yourself. We've given you some simple ideas in this article.

It's important to emphasize play, not practice. It is about having fun and playing together, so that a child can develop without too much thinking.

Encourage your child by saying that they are doing very well and that you can see that they are getting better and better. Positive feedback is essential!

Also read: educational toys for toddlers to help their development

Always something to do for the holidays or rainy day?

Play Choice now has the ultimate activity book collection, with over 60 pages of fun coloring pages and educational puzzles.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Speelkeuze.nl is a content marketer, father and loves trying out new toys. As a child he came into contact with everything related to games when his mother started the Tinnen Soldaat in Ede. Now he and his team create helpful blog articles to help loyal readers with fun play ideas.