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Your toddler now
Climbing and falling
Now that your 19-month-old has good hand-eye coordination and balance, and strong arm and leg muscles, she's capable of exercising her motor skills by climbing. How she applies those motor skills really depends on personality. She may be very cautious in her explorations or a veritable mountain goat clambering over every possible obstacle, from chair to crib, baby gate to kitchen counter.
Climbing is fun, but safety can't be ignored. Make it clear where climbing is allowed and what's off-limits. This won't stop her if she's determined to climb (19-month-olds are impulsive and have little sense of danger), but setting boundaries will help you decide when to intervene and when to let it go.
Your child falling is the obvious danger, but another hazard that comes with climbing is falling furniture: a dresser that falls onto a child who climbs on the drawers, a freestanding bookcase or a television that falls onto a child who is trying to scale it. Modern flat-screen TVs are especially tippy. (You may want to mount yours on a wall, at least for now.)
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found at least 180 "tip-over" related deaths between 2000 and 2006, 80 percent of them children under 10. Experts recommend finding some way to secure furniture that's likely to fall, such as bolting it to a wall.
Make sure your child gets the opportunity to climb at playgrounds. In winter, you might consider setting up a small plastic play structure in your playroom or living room. If the weather allows, spending time outdoors helps channel some of that energy.
My 19-month-old still asks for a bottle at bedtime. The sucking seems to comfort her but I don't want her to get cavities from the milk. So I slowly transitioned her from milk to water in the bottle. Now we're all happy!
Games to play
Running out of playtime ideas? Build on your child's budding imagination with games like these:
Puppet play: Use a puppet you have or make one by drawing eyes, a mouth, and a nose on a light-colored sock. Have the puppet interact with your child, using short, simple sentences like "Hi, Chloe! I'm Posey. I need a nose. Do you have one? Where's your nose? Oh, I see it. Can I kiss it? Yummy! And now I need a mouth..." The puppet can also ask for a hug, sing a song, shake hands, pick up a book, or hand over a toy. The possibilities are endless.
(Get more ideas for this game.)
Beanbag basketball: You'll need two small beanbags and a large container such as a laundry basket or trash can. Join your toddler on the floor and give her a beanbag. Let her experiment with it – she may want to explore the fabric and weight for a while, or drop it to the floor and pick it up a few times.
Place the basket or container next to you and drop your beanbag in. As you retrieve it and drop it in several more times, suggest that your toddler do the same. After a few rounds of this, move the basket a little farther away, and show her how to toss the beanbag into the basket.
Applaud wildly when she throws her bag, whether or not she gets it in. Encourage her to pick up the beanbag and try again.
(Get more ideas for this game.)
For more great games to play with your toddler, see our weekly activities for your child's second year.
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