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Encouraging Toddler Motor Development

Toddlers usually express a preference for the right or left hand sometime between the ages of two and three, but if your child doesn’t seem to prefer one to the other by then, don’t worry. Variation is normal.

Climbing & Balancing

Once your toddler has mastered the skill of walking, you’ll likely notice her pushing herself even further in an attempt to balance on things like bricks or logs. Children also have a natural inclination to climb on things that make them taller than they normally are. Because both balancing and climbing can be dangerous, especially to someone just learning, create a place for your toddler to safely practice these skills. Low slides with a few steps for climbing are helpful and fun. The Naturally Playful Kangaroo Climber is one of our favorites. Walking across a trail of pillows lined up on the bedroom floor also makes for great imaginary games, and toddler tumbling classes can be a lot of fun, too. Low sidewalk curbs can be good makeshift balance beams for outside play, but always stay by your toddler’s side and be sure to provide your hand for support.

Running & Jumping

You can help your toddler practice jumping by holding both her hands and letting her bounce up and down on a bed or small trampoline. Jumping from a low sofa onto a pile of pillows can also be helpful. Encourage running by having your toddler run from mom on one side of the room to dad on the other and reward her with a big hug or a swing through the air on each end.


Most toddlers love being in the water, but it takes others a little time and effort before they feel comfortable enough to enjoy it. Your child may love to splash and put her head under water, or she may prefer to paddle around quietly and keep her head safely above the surface. Just follow her lead and start wherever she’s most comfortable. Floating devices, such as the Kiddie Float by Intex, can make nervous little ones feel much more at ease while they are getting used to the water. But swim toys are no substitute for you, so be sure to stay with your toddler in the water until she can swim on her own.

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