How to Stimulate a 12-Month-Old's Physical Development

By Erica Loop
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By the time that your infant rounds the 12-month mark, she'll have a much more well-developed sense of physical movement than she did as a newborn or younger baby. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, on their HealthyChildren.org website, at 12 months old major physical development milestones to look for include crawling, pulling herself up to standing, cruising while holding onto furniture and possibly walking. Although going from sitting to standing and then waking is certainly impressive, don't forget that your baby is also building small motor physical skills such as using a pincerlike grasp, and poking objects with her index finger. Stimulating these skills can help refine your infant's physical development, getting her ready for the toddler years.

Step 1

Play on the floor together. Place a bevy of soft toys, a tot climbing tunnel or other playthings with the 12-month age rating on them on the floor for your soon-to-be toddler to use. Get down onto the floor with him, encouraging him to explore, try out different toys and move through the entire environment.

Step 2

Enroll in a parent-child class that encourages physical movement. Sign up for a tumbling class for tots to stimulate your child's gross motor physical development or a mommy-and-me art studio workshop to increase her fine motor skills.

Step 3

Provide plenty of free playtime. Create a safe play environment that is baby-proofed, covering all of the electrical outlets, adding cushions to corners of hard furniture, securing heavy electronics or other furniture to the walls with anchors, locking away household cleaners and medications and removing any items that pose a potential choking hazard. Encourage your infant to move around, crawling or toddling around your living room or family room space while making his own explorations.

Step 4

Take your child on a trip outdoors to play. Keep her in an enclosed space -- such as your fenced-in backyard or a gated playground -- and make sure that all of the walkways and movement areas are free from debris. Allow your tyke to crawl across the grass or toddle around with you holding her hand.

Step 5

Give your 12-month-old child-safe, nontoxic art items to stimulate his finer physical skills. Hand him a crayon to scribble with on a piece of paper or a clump of play clay to manipulate.

Step 6

Stack soft plastic or rubber building blocks together or use stacking cups, encouraging your infant to develop her eye-hand coordination and dexterity skills.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.