Your 16-month-old’s physical development: Grand ambitions
by Dana Sullivan
New this month: Grand ambitions
Your toddler is still likely to explore her surroundings the way she has for the last few months — grabbing random objects, inspecting them closely, putting them to her mouth, banging them on the floor. But you’ll also notice that she likes to challenge her physical limits. She knows she can walk, so she wants to try to carry a heavy load, like a box of blocks, while she’s at it. She’s confident that she can climb up onto the sofa, so she’ll want to push a chair to the kitchen counter to climb higher and investigate what’s up on the counter tops. If you haven’t already done so, now it is essential that you childproof your home. The kitchen can be a particularly dangerous spot, so get into the habit of cooking on the back burners of the stove, turning pot handles inward and out of reach of groping hands, and locking up any dangerous cleaning products and medicines rather than leaving them out in the open.
What you can do
If your toddler is willing to let you test her physical prowess with her, try this silly game recommended by child development expert Marilyn Segal, author of Your Child at Play: One to Two Years: Hold her hands and show her how to squat down. While you’re moving up and down, chant:
“Bend our knees, and down we go
All the way to the floor.
Up, up, up, we stand up tall,
And now we squat some more.”
If your child isn’t walking with ease, or is hardly walking at all, try this activity, which developmental experts use to help children gain confidence on their feet. First have your child stand with her back to a wall; move back so you’re about 3 feet away from her. Hold out a hand and have her reach for it, taking one or two steps to get to you. Guide her back to the wall and do it over and over again, occasionally stepping back so she has to take more steps to reach you.
Other developments: Stacking and drawing
Your 16-month-old is becoming more adept at using her hands and fingers. She may be able to stack two or three blocks into a tower, and will delight in immediately knocking it down. When you read books, she’ll insist on turning the pages for you, and by now may be capable of turning one or two pages at a time instead of simply flipping from front to back. If you hand her a crayon, she’ll know exactly what to do with it, but will probably scribble on anything that’s in front of her — books, furniture, and walls included — so “coloring” is an activity that you’ll probably want to monitor closely. She may even be able to insert a round block into the proper hole on a board with various shapes.
This is a great time to introduce finger painting. You can make your own finger paints by mixing 2 tablespoons of white flour with a little water to make a thin paste and then adding a few drops of food coloring. To make painting extra easy for a young child, have her paint on waxed paper taped to a table in the kitchen or outdoors. Put a blob of paint down on the paper and show her how to slide her fingers around. If you want to save her creation, press a piece of regular paper over the waxed paper and peel gently away; hang to dry.