Toddlers' physical developmental milestones
Throwing and kicking a ball (12 months)
Soon after her first birthday, your child will show interest in ball play -- first by throwing, then by kicking at age 2 (catching comes around age 3 to 4). To help her along:
- For throwing, start by rolling a small soft ball back and forth between you, moving farther and farther apart with each pass. Soon, she'll want to throw it.
- For kicking, show her how to use her feet instead of hands to roll a ball back and forth between the two of you.
- For catching, have her roll it up a small incline to catch on the way down.
Pushing and pulling (12 to 18 months)
Once your child's a confident walker, he'll discover the joy of dragging or pushing toys along. And all the while he'll improve his coordination, since he'll be walking forward while occasionally looking back.
So offer him some pull or push toys to play with, or make your own by attaching a string to a toy car (make sure to supervise or limit the length of the cord to 12 inches to avoid a strangulation hazard).
Squatting (12 to 18 months)
Up to now, your baby has had to bend down to pick things up off the ground. But soon, she'll attempt to squat instead. To help her along:
- When she starts to stoop over for an object, show her how to bend her knees to squat.
- Let her practice. Line up a few small toys on the floor and have a "treasure hunt," where she has to go from one item to the next and pick them up - a perfect activity for cleanup time!
Climbing (12 to 24 months)
Toddlers climb up on the kitchen table (or your desk or the bed) for the obvious reason: Because it's there. Kids this age are trying to find a balance between risk and challenge. Of course, you know that the challenge of climbing up the bookcase isn't worth the risk, but the average toddler's ability to reason isn't in line with his physical prowess. Climbing is an important physical milestone, though. It'll help your child develop the coordination he needs to master skills like walking up steps. Ways you can help:
- Provide safe opportunities for climbing. Toss sofa cushions or pillows on a carpeted floor, or let him loose at a toddler-friendly playground.
- Anchor bookcases and other pieces of furniture to the wall, even if you think they're too heavy to topple. Clear shelves of things that could fall on him - or that could tempt him to climb.
- Limit access. Keep chair seats pushed under the table, and take a closer look at the stove: Could your child get to it by climbing up shelves or cabinets?
- Set up gates at the top and bottom of the stairs. It's the only way to keep your child from attempting that irresistible - but dangerous - ascent. To help your child learn to climb the stairs safely, practice together by taking him up and down while holding his hand.