A Moving Child Is a Learning Child

child in play tunnel

Infants and toddlers learn as they move around their environment. Some children need a little extra encouragement to develop key motor skills. Here are some ideas to help you encourage more movement in daily activities and routines.

Reach, grasp, and grab.

  • Hold toys where an infant can see them and encourage her to reach for the toy.
  • Say, “So big!” and encourage your child to raise her arms high.
  • Dance and wave your arms with scarves, bells, or shakers.
  • Encourage children to feed themselves with age-appropriate finger foods.
  • Fill baskets and containers with toys and encourage your child to reach in and grasp.

Roll, scoot, crawl, and dance.

  • Encourage rolling, crawling, scooting, cruising, walking, running, and dancing.
  • Help them play in many positions: sitting, kneeling, standing, and laying on their backs and tummies.
  • Play some music and have a dance party with your child.
  • Encourage children to bend, reach, and squat by placing toys in low baskets and on higher surfaces.
  • Help children climb a pile of sofa cushions, push a laundry basket, or climb in and out of a large box.

Kick, stand, cruise, and walk.

  • Sing nursery rhymes that encourage children to be aware of their feet, such as “This Little Piggy.”
  • Encourage your child to cruise along the length of a sofa or low table by putting toys on it.
  • Show children how to walk in different ways: tiptoes, backward, stomping, jumping, hopping, etc.
  • Help children explore ramps, stairs, and different surfaces by holding their hands and being prepared to catch children so they are safe.
  • Help your child move her legs through water in the bath or pool.

Move indoors, outdoors—anywhere!

  • Playgrounds, sidewalks, fields, and natural spaces all provide room for movement.
  • Indoor shopping malls, community gymnasiums, or the library children’s department may have spaces for moving when the weather keeps you inside.
  • Your home can be rearranged to provide safe floor spaces for infants and toddlers to creep, crawl, and roll. For example, pushing a coffee table out of the way can provide more open floor space.
  • “Secret places,” such as under a table or behind the sofa, are places your child may enjoy crawling. Then he can surprise you with a game of “peekaboo.”

Work with your EI team to choose strategies that target the skills your child needs to work on.

Publication date: 2016