Walking and beyond
As the parent of a 15-month-old, toddler mobility can't be far from your mind. Maybe your child mastered walking early and is already working on more sophisticated motor skills. Or perhaps she's getting ready to take those first solo steps right now, so that you wake up each morning and wonder if this will be the day. She may even be happily crawling without showing much inclination to walk at all. Any age from around nine months up to 18 months is considered normal for learning to walk. (If your child isn't walking by his 18-month checkup and you're concerned, you might want to mention it to her doctor, just to reassure yourself that there are no physical problems.)
Next up: running, jumping and climbing. Like almost everything in a toddler's world, these physical skills are most easily and pleasantly learned through play. Regular trips to the playground are a great way to support your toddler's emerging coordination, but be sure to keep an eye on her. At this age physical confidence can easily exceed real capability, especially if your local park is geared to older children as well.
The trouble with exploring
Do you feel like your toddler is incapable of staying still or resisting the urge to touch everything in sight? Never mind the things that go into her mouth! This exploratory impulse — to go, look, touch and taste — is hard-wired into her and is what drives her to learn.
Unfortunately your toddler can't yet differentiate what is safe or appropriate from what is not. The challenge for you is to keep your young explorer safe without inhibiting her need to touch, hold, shake, smell and taste her world.
Playtime! Surprise bag
Here's a great activity that helps your toddler use her ever-sharpening senses. Fill a paper or cloth bag with small objects of varying shapes and textures — a ball, a carrot, a rubber ducky, a toothbrush. Then help your child to put her hand in the bag and think about what she's touching before she pulls it out. She probably won't be able to keep her eyes shut until she's actually guessed, but that's OK. She'll still enjoy the process of first holding something and then discovering what it is. In a few months she might be happy to follow your suggestion that she try to guess before she looks.
First comes love…
A parenting partner is a great asset. You have someone to lend support when you need four hands instead of two, and to bail you out when you have to take a breather from the sometimes overwhelming task of raising a child. But be careful not to make parenthood the basis of your relationship. Instead, find out how putting your spouse first could be the best thing you ever do for your kids.
Did you know?
Your child's ability to hold three objects at once is a significant cognitive step. Babies under a year old generally can't figure out how to do it — they can hold something in each hand, but will drop one in order to take a third. Now your child can think about how to do it — she may tuck an object under her chin or in the crook of her arm, or even hold it in her mouth. Now that's problem-solving!