We often prepare for a new member of the family by baby-proofing the house. And as that baby grows, you might also consider toddler-proofing areas like cupboards or drawers. But instead of limiting access to certain areas of your home, what if you were to make them toddler-optimized so that your young child feels like a full and contributing member of the family?
Here are a few tips for creating toddler-friendly activities and spaces at home. A little preparation will allow your young child to be independent and curious about their environment:
Make it Bigger: Toddlers are in the early stages of developing fine motor control. Try to find materials that are one size up from what a 3-6 year old child might use. For example, if your 4 -year-old enjoys Legos, consider getting Duplos (a bigger brick) for your 18 month old. They still get to build, but the tools are better equipped for growing toddler abilities.
Fewer parts: Bead stringing is an awesome fine motor builder for children of all ages. A 3-6 year old might excel at stringing 5-10 beads, and of increasingly smaller size. Toddlers will love bead stringing too, but for this age group, make the beads bigger (see above) and use fewer beads, perhaps just 3 to start out.
Account for a lot of movement: Toddlers are constantly testing their body’s limits (have you heard of maximum effort?) so try to provide your young child with plenty of opportunity to move. Water activities are a special hit with young children. For your toddler who needs a lot of movement, set up an outdoor washing area to wash cloths, dishes, or outdoor toys. Provide a bucket and a water source, then watch as your child makes many a trip to and fro with a heavy bucket of water.
As your toddler develops new abilities, update their environment to help them learn and grow! They love being a central part of the family group and will thrive under the opportunity to do things just like mom or dad.
For more practical ways to invite your toddler to participate in everyday routine, try these “Care of the Environment” activities!
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