Encouraging Climbing

How can I encourage/teach my 14 month old to climb? She is walking on her own, but has no interest in climbing. We do not have stairs, so that isn’t an option. Before Caronavirus she was in PT and OT to strengthen her right side, which has very mild hypertonia.

Hi @Ihtackel!

Great question. My first question to you would be-is your baby’s physical development on the typical track? Is your baby cruising steadily or walking independently at this point? Assuming yes, then climbing shouldn’t be far behind if you leave your baby on the floor during playtime to figure it all out.

If you are looking to facilitate climbing-it can be very helpful to incorporate motivating items that your baby loves into play-whether that’s toys, cheerios, a set of old keys, remote control, etc.

Then you can place those items strategically to help motivate your baby to move more by placing them across a set of pillows you lay out on the floor, or up on the couch out of reach, on the forth step on a flight in your house.

You should also start off by giving your baby the support he/she needs to feel successful so he/she isn’t discouraged enough to give up and find something else to play with.

By giving the least amount of support your baby needs to climb, he/she will be building up the muscles needed for these movements and should soon be doing it independently.

Again, this is all based on the idea that your baby is following a typical development pattern.

Hope this is helpful!

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Hello @Ihtackel, pediatric PT here! I really like using crawling over the stairs as a way to introduce crawling. Another option would be to use a little step stool so they can step up to climb on the couch or another safe surface. If they need help, assist to bring their knee on the couch and pause to see if they’ll use that support to pull all the way (hope that makes sense). Make sure there is a motivating toy/person just out of reach, so they attempt to climb. Like @tots-allison mentioned, amount of support can depend on where your little is developmentally.

I love using climbers at a park, but since that’s a challenge right now indoor climbers are also a great option! Here’s an option, however, there may be cheaper ones available on amazon.
Toddler climber

Little obstacle courses using laundry baskets, bins, foam rollers, pool needles, etc. can help strengthen muscles needed for climbing.

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Hey there @Ihtackel.

Great suggestions already by @tots-allison and @Tinytotspt.

I think a big question here definitely is where is your baby at developmentally? If your baby is crawling on all 4’s, able to assume half-kneel position during play or when pulling to stand, cruising, etc. then climbing will be coming soon!

I always like to encourage climbing by starting with small obstacles on the floor. Some simple favorites are couch cushion, taking baby’s mattress out of the crib, or having baby crawl over your leg.

Once your baby has begun to master climbing over small objects incorporate a little incline. Climbing up a few steps in the house, propping the couch cushion like a ramp up to the couch for baby to climb up, and once the playgrounds are open again climbing up the slide or stairs.

A motivating object will be key here to gain interest in the activity and give your baby an incentive to get climbing. Good luck!!!

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I agree with everything said above! I think starting with small things for them to crawl over or climb up on like the couch are great! Using motivating toys or objects or people always makes it more fun. You could also make big piles of pillows to crawl over. If you have a staircase that is a great way to work on early climbing. Here is an old post I did about climbing climbing post
I think without access to a playground its all about using your imagination! Happy to give more specific tips if you need/want!

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