Your busy toddler will benefit from the exercise he will get from doing small indoor climbing activities. Climbing will help him develop his flexibility, improve his balance and dexterity, and will also strengthen his gross motor skills. Besides all of that, it will be fun watching how happy he is, smiling and giggling, while climbing all around.
1. Homemade Climbing Activity
If you don't have indoor climbing equipment or indoor play structures to let your toddler practice climbing on, don't worry. You can create your own climbing activities to give him practice. Pull the couch cushions off the couch or pile a bunch of pillows in the middle of the room, away from everything. Get down on the floor with your little one and show him how to climb up and over the pillows. Say to him, "This is how you climb up the cushions! Isn't this fun?" He will love climbing and rolling around on them. If your toddler has good balance, you could stack pillows or cushions against the couch and hold his hand while he walks up and down them like stairs.
2. Climbing Frames
Indoor climbing frames or small indoor playgrounds are ideal for your toddler to climb on and improve important gross motor skills. Many of these are brightly colored and come with exciting activities that will appeal to your active toddler. Look for one made by a reputable manufacturer that meets all national safety standards. Some come with a small, toddler-sized climbing wall with foot and handholds, steps to toddle up or a ladder to climb up. Help your little guy with these until he becomes more confident and gains better balance. Tell him, "Up you go! Just be careful, so you don't fall down." Many come with a slide attached so your toddler can slide down after he makes his way up it and some even have a hiding area underneath for your toddler to climb into. Adding one of these climbing toys to your home is a great way for your toddler to get physical exercise year round.
3. Stair Climbing
What toddler isn't attracted to stairs? While stairs can be dangerous for an unsupervised toddler, they can make a perfect climbing activity with your help. Start off slowly with a few steps. Show him how to climb up while holding onto the railing. Say to him, "See, this is how we hold onto the rail so we don't fall down and get a boo boo." Then, show him how to make his way back down by climbing down backwards on his belly. Tell him, "Slither back down the steps like a snake on your belly. Isn't that fun!" (You may be jealous because he's young enough to do this!) After he masters the first few steps, give him a chance to climb all the way to the top. Just keep close behind him in case he needs your help. Now let him climb back down like you showed him before. Every time he makes it up or down give him lots of praise. Clap, jump up and down and tell him what a big boy he is!
4. Tunnel Climbing
Indoor climbing tunnels will give him hours of exciting play time while increasing his confidence and teaching his body how to crawl and climb through. Most climbing tunnels are made of soft foam, and come in bright shades. He can crawl through a tunnel or climb up on top and over to the other side. You can join right in and show him how much fun climbing can be. Tell him "Okay, it's time for an adventure! We are going to be explorers today." Climbing comes naturally to your toddler and physical activities like this are vital to his growth. When he sees you playing along with him, it will encourage him to keep going. Besides that, it is fun for the two of you to play together! If your climbing tunnel is made of different colors, you can practice learning his colors at the same time.
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