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New Skill: Throwing a Ball

Your baby has been gleefully flinging her Cheerios from her high chair for months already, but it's only around age 2 that she'll actually be able to toss a ball (or anything else) at a specific target.

Her earliest tries were more like jerky, downward chops of her lower arm; she'd let go of something just by opening up her little hand. By 24 months, however, she'll have the hand-eye coordination to aim at something and the fine-motor skills to release objects in that direction, too (which is why you'll find she loves games like tossing rolled-up socks into a laundry basket).

To help her with her big-kid throw, give her a soft ball that she can easily grip and direct her to a big target (like the sofa, or even you). The more you practice with her, the less she'll be tempted to use her new powers to hurl the wrong objects (like her shoes) at the wrong thing (the dog). If she does, calmly replace whatever she sent air-bound with her ball, and say, "Shoes aren't for throwing, but balls are." Soon, she'll be throwing like a pro.