Encouraging Toddler Motor Development
It is a widely known fact that toddlers are full of energy. Try to imagine how strong the desire to move around, touch and grab things and explore your environment would be if you were never able to do so before. This is exactly how your toddler feels when she finally realizes her body moves – and she can control it!
In general, babies develop motor skills in a fairly predictable sequence. Each physical milestone prepares them for the next, such as rolling before crawling, and crawling before walking. While the rate at which children progress through this sequence varies considerably from toddler to toddler, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your child moving forward at a healthy pace. Below are a few ways to do so.
Pushing & Pulling
Push-and-pull toys combine skills your toddler has already developed, such as pushing herself up from the floor and pulling herself into standing position, with those she will eventually master, such as upright movement. Good toys for pushing and pulling include cars and trucks big enough to be pushed while standing upright, with sturdy plastic handles for pushing and a seat for riding. We love the Fisher Price Ride-On Corn Popper. Also helpful are child-sized plastic grocery carts, such as the one by Little Tikes, which can help your toddler balance and steady herself as she walks. Animal pull toys, such as the Fisher Price Amazing Animals Sing & Go Choo-Choo Train, are also great for walks once your toddler has maintained a good sense of balance.
Rocking & Rolling
Legs are the key to mobility, and once your toddler realizes this, she’ll love using them to get around using her own wheels. Make sure your toddler’s first toy car is low enough o the ground that she can make it move with her feet. Our favorite is the Push & Ride Racer by Little Tikes. Your toddler may begin by using both feet at the same time and then start using her feet alternately. Also, be sure she’s wearing a helmet, especially when riding outdoors on the pavement. For rainy days, rocking horses provide lots of indoor fun as well. Check out the Classic Rock and Bounce Pony by Radio Flyer.
Throwing & Catching
Throwing, catching or rolling balls is great for helping your toddler develop her hand-eye coordination. The ability to grasp objects is usually learned between three and seven months old, but the coordination it requires to throw a ball is something entirely different and usually comes between 18 months and three years. Your child will most likely start by rolling the ball, followed by bouncing and throwing underhanded before finally learning to throw overhand. Rolling is easier and less scary for children under the age of two. We recommend Baby’s First Ball by K’s Kids. It’s multicolored and squishy for easy grabbing and tossing.
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