Between one and three years of age, your toddler’s physical development with greatly outpaces his cognitive development. At this stage, he is likely to want to climb onto anything and everything in the house– the dining room table, the countertops, the sofa, and more. But he doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to understand the inherent dangers in his climbing habit. These tips can help you to keep your little climber happy, safe and healthy.
1. Minimize your “no’s”. You shouldn’t give in every time your toddler wants to climb somewhere– especially if climbing could pose a danger to him or someone else. But it’s unnecessary to say “no” every time your toddler wants to climb somewhere. In fact, too many “no” answers can cause your toddler to simply tune you out. Instead, let your child climb when there’s no harm in the behavior. Unless you’ve got a good reason to forbid him from climbing a jungle-gym or bed, go ahead and let him have fun. It will give him an opportunity to have fun and exercise his gross-motor skills.
2. Move or get rid of any dangerous climbing surfaces. If you have a large TV sitting on top of a flimsy desk, you have a disaster waiting to happen. Every year, hundreds of children are crushed during furniture accidents. Even if you explain to your toddler that he can’t climb these surfaces, he is likely to disobey you– and pay a fatal price for his mistake. Don’t take chances when it comes to hazards in your home. Bolt your furniture. Use stable stands for TVs and computers. If necessary, move a potential hazard, such as an old bookshelf, to another room that your child cannot access.
3. Provide safe spaces to climb. If your toddler wants to scale the side of your bed or sofa, surround it with cushions and let him go. Look into buying an inexpensive jungle-gym. Deem one of the sofas in your house “climb-friendly” and let your toddler scale it under adult supervision. By helping your child find safe spaces to climb, you minimize the chance of him climbing an inappropriate or hazardous surface.
4. Encourage his independence. If your toddler wants to climb the counter-tops so he can fix himself a glass of water, you can encourage his desire for independence without harming him. Help him move a chair across the floor, then spot him as he attempts to climb onto the counter-top. Help him carefully get a glass from the cabinet, then fill it at the sink. If you spot him during every step of this simple self-care measure, you safely encourage him to exercise his self-sufficiency.
5. Keep an eye out for injuries. Whether you permit your toddler to climb in your home or not, bumps and falls are an inevitable part of toddlerhood. A few mild bruises aren’t a reason for concern, but you should always watch for signs of concussion if your toddler has fallen from a significant height or taken a blow to the head. Concussion symptoms may include unevenly dilated pupils, fatigue, vomiting or abrupt mood changes. An time you are concerned about your toddler’s health or well-being, consult his pediatrician for guidance.