As your baby approaches the end of their first year, they are navigating space in a whole new way. Pulling up on furniture, their point of view is suddenly more inclusive of the room in a new way, and the space they inhabit is taller.
To fulfill their need to move and explore in a positive way, plan some gross motor activities that allow your child to exert maximum effort with their body while collecting information with their senses.
For a baby who can walk or cruise with the support of furniture, crouching is a favorite way to check out what’s on the floor. Inside your home, you can use cloth napkins or washcloths to set up a game. Hide five or six small toys or animals underneath a cloth, but in plain view of your baby. Play together as you move around the room looking under the washcloth to reveal the item you have hidden.
A key observation made by Maria Montessori — and most parents of toddlers — is that as soon as a child can walk, they want to walk while carrying an object.
Harness this desire in a positive way by inventing a game of carrying something bulky and placing it in a different spot.
Putting In And Taking Out
Around 10 months old, we develop the ability to intentionally release objects. A satisfying way to exercise this new ability is to pick up an item and drop it into a container.
At first, offer your child a bigger container, such as a low tub or laundry basket into which they can drop things. For example, line up stuffed animals, balls, or rolled-up socks and model how to drop them into the tub. Experiment with putting the items further away to incorporate walking or crawling in the process.
Just as satisfying as dragging a heavy item around is pushing one. Push toys with wheels and handles are designed for this, but you can improvise with something else. A Swiffer with the extension handle removed becomes a child-sized push mop. A wagon that rolls easily can be slowed down with a stack of heavy books laid in it.
Invite your baby to fly in the air, supported by your shins or feet against their stomach while you lay on the floor. This Superbaby game can be a fun bonding activity when you add noises and or an imitation routine where you model holding your arms in the air until they do it, too.
Why we prepare gross motor activities for crawlers and toddlers
Once they begin to move with confidence, your baby needs to explore more each day. A new walker will want to cover longer and longer distances. Finding a safe, open space for these daily walks is something for which you can plan ahead, but between the weather and the coronavirus, it is helpful to have indoor activities up your sleeve.
As your baby becomes more independent and confident in movement, they need the freedom to move on their own. Letting your baby move as much as they are able lets them know that you trust them and that you know they are capable. Moving and learning for your baby are closely interconnected, so remember that their need to move is not just to keep you on your toes!