Physical Development (13-16 months)

How much fun are toddlers?

The answer is A LOT OF FUN!

It’s a pretty recurring theme here on the The Art of Making a Baby.

But it’s true. We’ve known that Alexis has been focusing on her physical development for a while now. It has been constant since about 9 months when she first started walking supported.

What’s interesting is that it has not changed until maybe now (16 months) when she started to work on her speech development in parallel (another post coming). But the physical aspect is and has been front and center.

I know every baby focuses on its own thing, works on one thing at a time, or two things at a time, with one always being the primary focus. It’s usually pretty obvious in babies. If you’ve been to the playground, you’ve seen a kid who’s in non-stop motion, climbing a top of everything, demanding swing rides, slides, rushed from one side to another, runs around with his mouth open, screams. Then there are talkers, builders, collectors, swing babies, slide babies….

I am sure you guessed that the active kid is Alexis.

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It’s so clear to me why she always hated containers. We call her our wiggleworm. It is probably the best description that one can sum up for her.

When she’s in our arms, she’s literally wiggles her body out of them to get down on the floor. If she is sat down on a chair or couch, she instantly wiggles and gets down. If she’s in a high chair, she rocks back and forth, tries to get up, turns around, looks down. She is in a non-stop motion. ALL THE TIME.

When she is eating and is not in a high chair, she will grab a bite and instantly wiggle her way down and run somewhere. Then run back for another bite and run away. I guess it’s normal toddler behavior, but it defines her.

Unless she’s reading or listening to her Dr Seuss books. Time stops then. As long as you’re next to her.

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If you’re not, though…. like if you happen to dare to try to cook, she promptly runs over to you with the book or the iPhone and demands that you read her the book or change the phone to a different Dr Seuss book. Or more often than not, simply uses her free hand ( the one not holding said book or phone) to push you AWAY from the stove.

Again, it’s normal toddler behavior, but it’s incessant. Like in our music class ( she’s been going to 18-36 months class since she was a year old, because it’s more active) there are preschoolers who are more subdued and those who jump and run all the time. That will be her when she is a bit older (just not now during the class, as she’s a bit more cautious there being the youngest along with Lexitwin and all)

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She loves to run, she’s beginning to tumble, she enjoys rolling around the floor while hugging mommy, or walking on daddy’s back. She can walk upstairs unassisted by holding onto the railing and totally scales the stairs when going downstairs while supported, she can climb on and off virtually everything, she can walk up and down smaller single steps without any support. The difference in physical development from 12 months to 16 months is night and day. And we still have 2 more months to work on things before she’s the official 1.5 years old.

One thing I wanted to remember to write out is that she learned to get off chairs and beds early on. I don’t remember exactly when but it was before she was walking. And here’s an interesting fact, we never had to teach her how to get off the bed properly, i.e. feet first. I always thought that it was something that had to be taught for safety reasons, but she had sort of figured it out on her own.

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I try and support her love for movement as much as I can. We go outdoors and run around all the time. We play rumble-tumble games where I hug her tightly and roll back and forth on the floor. She knows it’s coming when I grab her and announce “Rumble Tumble”. Her body goes limp in preparation for being rolled around and over and a smile doesn’t leave her face.

I help her tumble by flipping her over her head when she indicates she wants to be tumbled by tucking her neck in and trying to stand on her head. A few more weeks and she will be able to tumble on her own with proper coaching (it’s vital to show them how to tuck their head in to avoid neck injury). Sometimes we do a reverse tumble we saw online, where she is lying face down on my bent legs while I am on my back and is then thrusted towards me head first completing a tumble (with constant support of course).

Just a few days ago (6/2/13), she’s figured out how to ride and move her riding toys with her feet. So now she races down the hallway at neck breaking speed on them. Soon we’ll be ready for a balance bike. Yikes!

Another super recent development (like this afternoon on 6/4/13) is eating with a spoon without dumping the contents of it before reaching her mouth. Whoa! It was like a switch got flipped!

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She also likes being rolled down my stretched out legs. Or run as fast as she can towards me and fall into my open arms.

Or a new one: jump into the water with me catching her. It’s something I’ve shown her how to do at our pool and she’s immediately caught on. Now she will actually run away, then run back towards me and jump (See video here).

She’s also awesome at climbing out of the pool, whether it’s off the edge or using the ladder (which she prefers). I always give her some support but it’s more for my peach of mind. She’s a little fish in the water, really. All she wants to do is be in a horizontal position and kick her legs (she won’t paddle, I don’t think I’ve shown her how to) or she will climb up my body in the water, stand on my shoulders and “jump” off of me into the water (she doesn’t actually jump, i just bounce her up and she helps with her knees).

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She had figured out how to open doors when she was 12 months old, so at this point she’s an old pro at it. She can swing them open both ways without any trouble, and I am afraid that gates will be next. It won’t be the first time she’s figured out how to open childproofed locks (more on that in the cognitive development post).

The other days she was over at the neighbor’s house whose daughter is a professional tennis player and she picked up a tennis racket and starting walking around swinging it. That made me think that we should probably buy her a Lexi sized tennis racket and take her out to tennis courts more often to expose her to the game. The neighbor’s son was up and swinging and attempting to hit a ball around 2 years of age due to all that exposure from his older sister.

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She loves to sit on everything and anything, which is so cute. She will sit down on any raised surface and adores the Svan table and chairs we have. She climbs up on those chairs multiple times a day and sits there contently for a few minutes before getting off.

So in general, she has been clearly working on her motor skills more than anything else.

That creates a bit of a challenge when it comes to playing with toys or being in her playroom. She is just NOT interested. Toys hold her attention for 5 minutes max, even new ones. But take her outside and she will contently play around for hours.

As far as her fine motor skills, while she’s not crazy about doodling, she will occasionally draw a few things on a piece of paper or go outside to play (more than draw) with chalk, but I don’t see much interest there yet.

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However, give her a thin stick and a hole to put it in and she will sit there patiently trying to match the two together (and does a pretty good job). Her big love is anything too tiny to see. She will pick small things up with her pincer grasp and walk around proudly showing the spec to everyone, or just hold on to it for hours 🙂

We have this wonderful new toy by Green Toys, called Build-a-Bouquet and she loves putting flower stalks into each other building flower bouquets ( removed the small pieces since i think they pose a chocking hazard, even though I couldn’t find a warning anywhere). Building is the name of her favorite game right now. That and role playing, but that’s for another post…

The majority of what I mentioned here happened early on in the age range, around 12-13 months and  of course now that I’m about to publish this post 2 weeks later, she goes around and changes some things on me.
1. Surprise! Doodling is her current obsession. She will find a piece of paper in the office, bring it to me, find a pen and go to town doodling.
2. Guess what, the stinker managed to open the top stairs gate. Totally freaked me out.
3. She dances constantly and really well. Using her hands and arms as well running in place and bouncing.
4. I bought and received some new toys recently and she has been playing with them non stop moving from one toy to another. I’m really excited about them.

In the next few weeks, i’ll write about other aspects of her development: verbal, cognitive, emotional. But in the meantime, below are some of the pictures from our daily golf course runs.

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32 Comments

  • Reply
    Melissa K.
    June 17, 2013 at 1:45 AM

    Hi Elena,

    Totally a random thought, I know you’re always concerned with chemical exposures in baby products and clothes, as well as household cleaners, so I’m curious as to why you’d let Lexi run around on the golf course full of chemical grass enhancers, with bare feet no less.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      June 17, 2013 at 11:27 PM

      I am not sure what kind of question it is, except rhetorical and I think I covered it somewhere else, but…
      I don’t believe in limiting a child’s valuable experience in favor of protecting them from toxins. I believe in doing all you can do even if it inconveniences the PARENT, but not if it deprives a child of valuable joy and experience like running in the grass ( “bare feet no less”) every evening and having fun. Stupid pesticides are a reality of our situation, because we live on a golf course. I don’t get hung up on it. She gets virtually NO chemical exposure anywhere else, so the little amount that she gets on her feet that will then get washed off is a drop in a bucket compared to something like not eating canned goods, BPA content of which increases your BP levels by 1200% simply by eating canned stuff for a week. That is the kind of things I am worried about, not the fun she has while running on a golf course.
      Toxins are everywhere, you can’t get away from them. You can only do what you can and deem necessary.
      And just a side note: being concerned with chemicals doesn’t have to be black an white, an either/or. A person can both be a math genius and an artist. Just because you’re one way doesn’t mean you can’t be a completely different way sometime else or when you want to. To me it’s all about picking and choosing what I want and is important to me, as well as worth the sacrifice. THIS isn’t worth it. 🙂

      • Reply
        Kay
        June 19, 2013 at 7:25 PM

        That’s a very thoughtful response. But, honestly, it’s not just a matter of the pesticides being on her feet and being able to wash them off – they are in the air too – particularly shortly after spraying (and I don’t know how often that course is sprayed – the one I live near to is weekly, but I’m in the UK, so things might be different over there.)

        There must be so many other places where you can let her run around that are pesticide free – the local park or playground, your own garden?

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          June 19, 2013 at 10:23 PM

          Yes and I’m very aware of the spray schedule.
          Playgrounds are not a substitute to free spontaneous backyard runs. There’s just no way around it. Not without sacrificing her freedom and joy. It’s my choice not to stress about it.

          • Kay
            June 19, 2013 at 11:06 PM

            Of course it’s your choice. But playgrounds are absolutely fun! And surely gardens are a ton of fun to run around in too!

          • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
            June 19, 2013 at 11:14 PM

            Yes, she gets plenty of that too. Her energy is bottomless.

          • Chelsea Head
            June 25, 2013 at 11:59 AM

            Just was reading this conversation.. which totally cracked me up!! lol

          • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
            June 25, 2013 at 1:46 PM

            Yes, Chelsea! I crack up on daily basis myself 🙂 lol

  • Reply
    Corinne
    June 17, 2013 at 6:08 AM

    Omg she sounds so similar to my little one! Walked very early, now constantly running, climbing everything in site, won’t play with toys for more than 5 min, unless you count picking it up and carrying it around, no matter how BIG it is! She also loves putting things in other objects ie we have a little tumbler for our bubbles and it has an opening for the wand, she loves taking it out, “blowing bubbles” and putting it back in the hole. She lives putting coins in her piggy bank (with us right there, although luckiy she’s never been one to put things in her mouth). She does get frustrated when she struggles though. But definitely an active girl!

    The photo of lexi snuggling the ball is adorable! Like she pose for the picture. Well, they’re all adorable but especially that one.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      June 17, 2013 at 11:11 PM

      Omg, i forgot to mention the carrying thing. You’re so right! it’s hilarious when she tries to carry things three times bigger and heavier than her.

      • Reply
        Corinne
        June 17, 2013 at 11:20 PM

        It amazes me how strong she is with what she can manage to carry! We have a baby Einstein music table (we took the legs off because all she wanted to do was climb on it and stand) so now she just carries it around. Too funny.

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          June 17, 2013 at 11:44 PM

          OMG hahaha That’s funny! Lexi loves carrying my 5 lbs dumbells.

          • Corinne
            June 18, 2013 at 7:29 AM

            Hahaha she does that at my parents house with their dumbbells! Strong girls

  • Reply
    Dina
    June 17, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    I’ve been playing tennis for a while. I’ve heard from different coaches that its pointless to teach kids under 5years old.
    U can play ball coordination games with them. Otherwise it’s waiste of money

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      June 17, 2013 at 11:10 PM

      Actually, not sure that it’s true. I think they might have been talking about taking tennis lessons or instruction-based tennis. Our neighbor started “playing” around 2-3 by just mimicking what his sister did. Obviously it wasn’t real playing but he was attempting to hit the ball. At 4 years of age without any classes or formal instructions he was playing tennis with the correct technique and footwork. It was amazing to see.

      • Reply
        Sarah
        June 18, 2013 at 1:27 PM

        While I’m sure everyone wants to see their child become a tennis prodigy, I just wanted to point out that Roger Federer only started playing tennis at age 8.

  • Reply
    Irina
    June 17, 2013 at 10:16 PM

    that is a very cute picture of Lexi hugging the ball!

  • Reply
    Corinne
    June 18, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    I’m curious about the reverse tumble. My LO loves tumbling too and it sounds like something she’d enjoy.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      June 18, 2013 at 11:55 AM

      Do it, it’s fun!

      • Reply
        Corinne
        June 18, 2013 at 12:01 PM

        Can you post where you found it? I searched “reverse tumble” and just older gymnasts and links to gymnastics classes came up.

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          June 18, 2013 at 9:49 PM

          Ok, so i barely found a video for you. I knew I had seen something similar.

          Watch this video, it’s a bit towards the end: http://tinyurl.com/mpoat6c

          • Corinne
            June 18, 2013 at 10:34 PM

            Thank you thank you thank you!

          • Corinne
            June 18, 2013 at 10:39 PM

            I just couldn’t picture what you were describing! I can’t wait to try this with her! And I so wish we had something like that in our area. It’s something she would totally love.

  • Reply
    Emily
    June 18, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    Hey Elena,
    Adorable new Lexi photos! Just wanted to mention that the green toys flower toy you mentioned is meant for 2 years +, which may be why there wouldn’t have been a choking warning on the packaging – the expected age range it was developed for would’ve outgrown the heavily oral phase. We love all of those toys at our house and the flower one is definitely one that she can grow into for months to come when you’re able to add the smaller pieces back in.

    -Emily

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      June 18, 2013 at 9:11 PM

      I was trying to find an age recommendation but couldn’t. Usually 3+ is the age for small pieces.

      • Reply
        Manda
        June 19, 2013 at 1:05 AM

        You most likely already know this but if you are not sure if something is too small or a choking hazard, get a toilet paper tube and see if the toy/piece slides through or easily fits in there. If it does, it’s a choking hazard.

  • Reply
    Jen
    June 18, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    So cute! I have an 18 month old and she sounds just like my son about 2 months ago! Sounds like she’s right on track with all of her physical developmental milestones!!!1!!

  • Reply
    Arabelle
    June 18, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    Cute pictures!
    I’m curious what your thought on screen time are. I’ve noticed that you let Lexi use an iPhone and mention things she’s seen onlline quite a bit. I thought that current guidelines suggest no screen time at all under 2 years old. Is this something that concerns you?

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      June 18, 2013 at 9:16 PM

      It’s too long to explain in a comment when it comes to my stance on “screens”. I don’t really go by “guidelines”. I like to take the reasoning behind them into consideration instead of blindly following. I’ll be doing a post on iPhone usage. Let’s just say she def. doesn’t watch cartoons or anything of that type. There are only specific apps, home videos made by me and books on there that I approved.

  • Reply
    Christina
    July 2, 2013 at 11:19 PM

    I never comment on blog posts (lazy I guess!), but I’ve read some of the other comments and wanted to say that you seem like such an awesome, loving and fun mom. It’s obvious that Lexi is SO happy and well loved by you and your husband. Thanks for letting us into your lives in a small way and keep being you.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 3, 2013 at 12:09 AM

      Thank you!!! I have my moments! And I always have moments of being lazy or down when I don’t want to be the fun mom 🙂
      Thank you for your comment- it means A LOT to me!

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