Importance of Skill-Building for Infants and Toddlers
Last updated: October 29, 2020, at 2:13 p.m. PT
Originally published: October 29, 2020, at 2:08 p.m. PT
Skill building is the intentional development of a specific skill through activities, games, or the use of toys, tools, and other equipment. There are countless skills that kids develop over the course of their childhood such as crawling, walking, balancing, kicking, throwing, and catching. Infants and toddlers are only just starting to learn and develop, and play gives them the chance to explore, build skills, and communicate emotions. As children get older the skills that they seek to develop become more and more complex. Try some of these ideas with your infant or toddler to encourage and facilitate age-appropriate skill-building at home!
Infants begin developing skills like grasping, eye contact, and muscle building as soon as they’re born. Here are some things that you can do to help develop these crucial skills.
- Tummy Time - When laid on their stomachs, infants are required to build upper-body strength, control their head movement, and learn to track things with their eyes.
- Rolling Balls - One of the easiest ways to develop hand-eye coordination in infants is to sit on the floor a few feet away from them and practice rolling a ball back and forth.
- Pushing Buttons - There are a number of toys that involve pushing buttons to yield specific results. It could be making a certain sound, causing something to appear like an animal or favorite character or to release something that was inside.
- Walkers - Children can learn to pull themselves up and practice walking behind shopping carts, toy lawnmowers, etc. Encourage them to come to you or entice them with colorful toys.
- Shape Recognition - Placing shapes into the correct holes is a very valuable skill. Simple puzzles are also very helpful in developing shape recognition skills.
Toddlers continue to hone many of the skills that they began working on as infants but as their coordination increases and they learn to speak the number and complexity of the skills that they attempt increase exponentially.
- Building with Blocks - Stacking and snapping blocks together is a fun and creative way to increase coordination and spatial reasoning.
- Identifying Animals - One of the easiest ways to increase a child’s vocabulary is by identifying animals. Does the child that you’re engaging know all of the animals? Try dinosaurs!
- Gears and Magnets - A child’s first peek into the world of cause and effect is often with these types of toys. It is a moment of brilliance in a child’s mind when they discover, “if I do blank, blank will happen!
- Play Kitchen/Play Food - Children will often mimic what they see their parents do in the kitchen when they are given the opportunity to use their imagination in a play kitchen. This mimicry coupled with identifying different types of food opens the door to a fundamental but much-needed life skill.
- Counting - Children can be taught to count at a very young age. Anytime a child is playing with multiple items or you’re reading a story with pictures of multiple things encourages them to count!
Incorporating play into your child’s day can help build skills as well as be both fun and beneficial to their growth. You also can discover the joy of play again yourself! Here are a few resources of fun ideas for playtime with babies and toddlers: