Would You Let Your Baby Do This?

There’s a certain ubiquitous playground apparatus that has always given me the willies. Luckily, my children never seemed drawn to it. My nervousness may well have made them wary. Even if we’ve trained ourselves to remain calm, just observe and spot, our children know. Their radar is that good.

So when a mom from one of my parent-infant guidance classes (in which we strongly advise and encourage natural gross motor development) sent me a video of her 15 month old skillfully mastering this piece of equipment, my response after blinking several times was you’ve got to be kidding. This video is a brilliant illustration of the benefits of not teaching, restricting or otherwise interfering with the development of motor skills…

Hi Janet,

I’ve missed being at your class but R is really getting great at enjoying his independent play.  He can walk to his room and play while we get ready for work sometimes.  And can definitely occupy himself in the living room for a few minutes while I’m making breakfast.

Anyway, I know you know that R has always been very into climbing.  Every Wednesday I take him to a park that has a good toddler size slide/jungle gym.  Two weeks ago he tried climbing up this blue ladder and I spotted him all the way up.  He took pause and I was able to just tell him where to put his hand and he made it all the way up on his own.  I was so excited for him! And this week he tried it again a few times and I had Brad take a video I thought you might like to see.

Have a great week!


Note that this boy is not only physically fearless and able, he is also relaxed, focused, centered, aware and confident. He was encouraged to develop naturally, in accordance with his inborn timetable, which means…

1. His parents have basic trust in him as a competent, capable person.  They observe his play sensitively (but not fearfully) and are nearby to spot (without touching him) when he’s attempting new skills.

2. He has had plenty of time each day to move freely, independently and unassisted since he was born, beginning on his back. Time spent in restrictive devices like car seats, strollers, carriers, infant seats, swings, jumpers and walkers has been minimal or not at all.

3. He hasn’t been taught or “helped” to sit, stand or walk. His parents and caregivers don’t position him, hold his hands to aid him up and down steps; place him on or take him down from furniture or other equipment.  They trust that if he can climb up independently, he can also get down independently with spotting and a bit of vocal direction and encouragement (if he seems to need it).

4. Though carefully spotted, he’s given the space, time and freedom to discover his own way of doing things whenever possible. For example, babies usually choose to go down steps head first.

5. He’s allowed to choose play activities and repeat them as much as he likes. He’s trusted to be inner-directed — know exactly what he’s working on, demonstrate readiness by doing it. Whether what he chooses to do seems like a lot or a little, it’s always enough in his parents’ eyes.

“Every baby moves with more ease and efficiency if allowed to do it at his own time and in his own way, without our trying to teach him. A child who has always been allowed to move freely develops not only an agile body but also good judgment about what he can and cannot do.” – Magda Gerber

“It turns out nature has a plan, and it’s a good one.  …gross motor abilities will unfold before our eyes- no adult help or intervention needed.” -Lisa Sunbury, No Tummy Time Necessary 


Looking forward to hearing your impressions!


(Photo by Victor Bezrukov on Flickr)


Please share your comments and questions. I read them all and respond to as many as time will allow.

  1. This is one of the major areas in which I wish I had been more attuned to RIE parenting when my kids were little. I wasn’t one of the MOST overprotective mothers, but I definitely can hear myself saying “be careful!”, “let me help you”, “that ladder is too big for you”. UGH!

    Now that my kids are 4.5 I really try to allow them their space & encourage them to keep trying even if I have a fear that something might be too hard. Most of the time…it actually isn’t. And if it is, I’d rather THEY tell me than to have them hear me say it first. Such a great post, Janet. Thank you for always sharing so much wisdom. I continue to learn so much from you.
    – Gina

    1. Gina those were my exact thoughts on reading this post. I was a fairly nervous Mummy that first 18 months or so. I remember my son at 2.5 wanting to climb a similar ladder at our playground and me not letting him. Happily a month later I decided to let him try and the result astonished me! it’s possible this was around the same time I found Janet’s blog! 🙂

  2. love it. I’m a fan of letting them give it a go. A few stumbles won’t hurt. They need to develop and learn I their own time!

  3. That is fabulous. My son is very much the same way. I spent a great deal of time with him at the playground this summer and he mastered equipment I never thought imaginable!!!

  4. Sadly not always the case. My daughter never crawled and didn’t walk until she was 21 months and wouldn’t of done so had we not intervened with physio and occupational therapy.

    Follow your mummy instincts, if your baby isn’t progressing then you may need to intervene!

    1. Alexandra says:

      This is so important too. My daughter didn’t crawl until around 13 months and didn’t walk until 22 months. She has come along way with the help, of a physical therapist. Now at 2.5 years old she is running with her friends and climbing ladders just like this, almost better than some of them.

  5. Again, amazing how timely this post is! I have been taking my 14 month old son to the playground regularly after I pick my daughter up from school. I have been sitting back, taking deep breaths and NOT helping my son with anything. He has surprised me over, and over again. The few falls we’ve had have been minor, from a foot’s drop, and on wood chips, so hardly any impact. He now has a really good grasp of what’s safe for himself, and what’s not and won’t even really go up the big structures on his own any more after a few initial forays. He’s happy to climb on the low balance beams, bounce on the bridges, wiggle on the low swinging tires, the jacob’s ladder, the steps and ramps, etc. The only accidents I’ve really been nervous about is other kids on swings or coming down slides as he lingers at the mouth. What’s really tough though is all the OTHER parents silently judging me for NOT getting him unstuck or not immediately reaching to hold his hand as he tries to walk the beam or along a bench, or not helping him down off of every step or not grabbing him away immediately from one of those ledges that lead to a fireman pole, etc. (He just goes over and stops about half a foot away, peers down for a bit, calculating the distance, or marveling how small the chips look from that high up, who knows).

    Its made our playground trips a LOT more relaxed, I get to chill and watch and just move nearby to whatever he’s doing rather than hurting my back trying to support him, grab him away from things, try to “reason” with him to not play with things that look enticing, etc. And I have yet to be bored with the quiet observation in which I Just notice what he does, not what he “should” or “shouldn’t” be doing!

  6. Breathtaking! Just look at the body wisdom and grace this little boy possesses and commands. It never ceases to amaze or thrill me, no matter how often I am privileged to witness it. I try to remember to keep my own fear and anxiety in check when I’m with young children and remember to trust and allow them to freely attempt whatever movement they are capable and ready for. When babies are allowed to move freely in their own way and their own time from birth on, we absolutely CAN trust in their innate ability and judgement. It’s nothing short of miraculous.

  7. I had no idea about the benefits of not helping. But that’s what I instinctively did. My daughter crawled at 5 1/2 months, but only sat at 6 months, walked at 9 and climbed up the jungle gym at our local park before her first birthday (and they are very high steps, each about the height of an average couch). She was the talk of the neighbourhood. So much so that I sometimes met new people, they’d see her climb and say: “oh yes, I have heard about your little girl”
    I remember when she started climbing on the couch. She was obsessed with it. Everybody told me to disallow her. I said: she’s not a dog, she’s allowed on my couch. Instead I kept reminding her to go down feet first. I knew I couldn’t stop her from climbing and I couldn’t always spot her, so I decided to teach her how to do it safely instead.

    She’s now 4 1/2 and still extremely agile and fearless but also incredibly coordinated. I still cringe at some of the things she does, but I feel she is safe doing her stunts then some other kids are just sitting on the swing.

    My son got the same treatment. However he is a completely different child. still crawled before he sat, but didn’t walk until after his first birthday. Way clumsier and not as adventurous. He is also more cautious. Which is good… he should be as he is clumsier. However, just like her, he knows exactly what he is capable of and what is out of his reach for now.
    It really is the best and safest way.

  8. So inspiring! I want to have the courage that his parents have with my own son.

    Also – as an actor, not just a mom, I love watching this child move. He is so confident, but his movement are so simple and clear. Love it.

    1. Thanks, Vicki! Having been an actor myself once, I think I know just what you mean. It’s that complete conviction babies have in what they are doing. We are all born with this and it needs to be nurtured, encouraged, don’t you think?

  9. What an inspiring video!

    When my daughter Josephine was little, we nicknamed this apparatus, “The Danger Climber.” I always envisioned her slipping, falling through and bashing her chin, then the back of her head on the way through. She was never much of a climber, but she went for it every time we were near one . . . Maybe BECAUSE we called it the Danger Climber.

    I didn’t know anything about RIE back then, but I’ve always had a policy of not helping children do anything on a playground. I figure if they can’t climb up themselves, they aren’t ready to be that high. I don’t even push kids on swings. I remember one time a parent on a playground felt so sorry for my daughter that she pushed her on the swing FOR me. The look Josephine gave me said, “See? I got someone to do it without your help.” Ha! She’s now grown into a very persuasive young woman.

  10. karie miller says:

    When my daughter, now an adult, was a little over a year old she was determined to climb our “jungle gym” in the back yard. This was before she could walk. She would with great confidence climb to the top. And in those days the bars went up, not on an angle.Being afraid of heights myself it was really difficult for me to let her go. I quickly learned that to try and stop her did not work. She was determined!!! I did stand close by. By the age of 7 she started gymnastics and excelled to the travel team with the added advantage of traveling USA and Europe with her team. Observe and listen to your young child. My daughter is the mother of a child at Learning Brooke

  11. What a great climber! Is there a RIE technique to the spotting? When I spot my child I’m usually standing right next to him but in this video it looks like no one is in arm’s reach.

    1. Hi HF! In the mom”s note she explains that she spotted him the first several times and then felt comfortable stepping back. Normally, we would say to stand or sit right next to the child as you are doing. The challenge is to be quiet and calm and not encourage the child to, for example, fall into your arms rather than figure out the way to get down by himself.

  12. We have always let our kids do as much as they were willing to try. Its our policy that we don’t help them up, but will guide them down if they ask. Interestingly enough, this is how my parents raised us and how their parents raised them. Other people either comment on the trust we have in our kids or they think we’re nuts!

  13. Awesome. That thing gave me the willies too and I watched other mothers hold their kids and even make them crawl up it when they weren’t able to themselves. This is just so great to share.

  14. I honestly would not let my toddler do that. I couldn’t even get through the video. Lol! I’m all about freedom to explore and encouraging their innate abilities, but I definitely do have something of an over-protective instinct in me when it comes to toddlers, climbing, and hard equipment. I immediately envision a broken neck and full body paralysis. :-/

    1. Me too! I wish I could just relax about things more but I have what my family calls “worst case scenario syndrome”, and like you, I just keep imagining the worst that could happen and it is SO hard to just let that go.

  15. I love this – my son is very independent, particularly physically. at about 11 mths old I left him outside, partially supervised for a few minutes, came back to find him proudly waving to me from the top of a six foot ladder he had climbed completely independently – he was so proud! His grandmother finds it difficult watching him sometimes because he does so much that she feels is beyond him based on his age. Despite this he is actually not a big risk taker – he pushes himself to futher develop his skills but it is always on things that are within his ability, its just that his ability in climbing is much higher than the ‘average’ 18mth old and this makes a lot of people very nervous… me included if im totally honest, but I watch him, verbally encourage him and take genuine delight in his achievements, he knows what he is capable of 🙂

  16. As the third of three my niece Hazel was raised very RIE (without much guidance). Consequently, at twenty months she could climb in and out of a high chair at restaurants without pause. It was amazing to see. And to also monitor the gasps from the surrounding tables. The first time she did it I had my hand under her and was reaching to steady the chair when my sister said, “Let her, you’ll see.”

    She was as sure-footed as a lemur. It was great to see. In that video the only thing I would mention to the parent is to get the boy some shorts. A couple times you can see his pants restrict the movement of his legs. He’s aware of it, so it’s not a big deal, but it is so much nicer to be able to climb freely.

  17. Great video! I loved watching that little guy go!

    I have a policy of letting my boys (now 2) climb or do what they think they can at the playground. I spot or help when they ask for it, but am otherwise quiet. I never realized how distraction a parental “Be careful” could be until I read Jennifer Lehr’s post awhile back.

    The hardest part has been the other parents who step in out of concern that they can’t do it, or the bigger kids who think they’r helping but are actually throwing my boys off balance with their “helping” hands!

  18. I have a very similar video of my son at 18 months, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KFfxKnSN_A

    He loves to climb. It freaks out other people at the park and my father-in-law. They run over to help him, which actually distracts him and makes him more likely to fall. I use to stand nearby ready to catch him, but now he is so comfortable with it I don’t really feel the need to anymore.

  19. My 20 mo. Old does these, with help and spotting…scares the crap out of me and he does slip, but I let him keep trying and try to keep my fear to myself. Ours are taller and longer though. Awesome video and I am glad someone else parents similar to me…there are so many helicopter parents that I feel hinder their children more than protect

  20. Love this! All three of my kids have conquered this at an early age. I always had butterflies in my tummy while watching but I had confidence in them. It is wonderful to witness the sense of accomplishment in their faces as well.

  21. I have to say, my son was doing the same thing at 15 months – he even chipped his first tooth at 13 months during one of his first tries – and it is not because I, as a parent, did any of the things listed as the ‘reasons why’ he was able to do so. My son spent/spends plenty of time in a sling, stroller, carseat, you name it. I totally held his hand to help him learn to walk, and I definitely hold his hand up and down the stairs given his determination (at 20 months) to do it himself – and the bloody noses and goose-eggs on the forehead we’ve had from when that doesn’t work out so well for him. And I totally engage him in directed activities, both scheduled and at home. Yes, he gets to play and explore – I couldn’t stop him if I tried. Yes, I encourage his interests and give him opportunities for free play too. But none of this, positive or negative, is why he was able to climb the arch ladder at the playground. It’s all the kid, not the parent.

    1. Megan, you bring up a great point. I agree that the desire to take risks and develop motor skills comes from the child, but parents have a definite influence on the safety aspect…and can also influence autonomy and self-confidence. When children are assisted to stand, walk, climb, etc., they often develop a false sense of both balance and ability. But when they are trusted and encouraged to develop these skills independently, they almost never have serious accidents, bloody noses or “goose-eggs”, because they are far more in tune with their bodies and aware of balance. This is one of the many reasons natural gross motor development is so beneficial for children.

      1. In reading many posts, I’m noticing that there is not much mention of the Early Intervention Program. I never knew about it, and probably never would have if my daughter didn’t have some health problems as an infant. Her neurologist begged us to have her evaluated. She didn’t qualify, but the woman who came to evaluate her told me what milestones to look for, and to contact her if my daughter didn’t reach them. At 9 months when she still could not sit up, I had her re-evaluated. This was against the thoughts of her pediatrician who said to just wait. This time, my daughter qualified, and was able to get physical therapy. After 6 months she was completely caught up to her age-level. She had some minor issues that were easily corrected. I asked what would have happened if we had not gotten services. The therapist replied that my daughter would have walked, but late, and she would have been very frustrated because it would have been harder. And, she would have fallen a lot and would have been very clumsy. Thanks to therapy, my daughter is an agile, graceful child. She was able to receive other services in that 6-month time frame also. It was wonderful, and totally free. My question is: why isn’t Early Intervention the first thing people think of? Early Intervention does not label or limit a child–it liberates them. Most people just “wait and see”, which is harmful in the development of an infant or toddler.

        1. Mary, I am glad the early intervention has worked out so well for you. Generally, I definitely don’t agree that “just wait and see” is harmful in the development of an infant or toddler”. I think urging development forward has far more potential to be harmful (physically and psychologically)…and that is what my mentor Magda Gerber strongly believed, too. “Earlier is not better” is something she often said. She was a ardent advocate of natural motor development, even for children with disabilities, because she believed that mastery and autonomy are integral to the development of self-confidence. The message: “what you are able to do at this time is enough” is a powerful one to give our children. This is similar to the approach you shared regarding your child’s cognitive development (in your comment on: https://www.janetlansbury.com/2012/06/dont-let-your-preschoolers-forget-how-to-play/). Trusting each child’s individual innate timetable, whether it be about cognitive, social or physical development is the ideal. Certainly, there is sometimes a need for physical therapy, and if that is the case, I would find someone committed to minimal intervention, allowing the child to initiate his or her development as much as possible.

          1. Janet, I never really thought about it that way…but it makes sense. I was lucky that the people I worked with were very good. Her physical therapist worked with her legs to get them stronger. (one was weaker than the other) She also helped my daughter learn how to climb safely, and checked to see that all of her reflexes to keep her safe were “working.” It was fascinating to watch. The therapist fine-tuned everything and got my daughter ready so that when it was time she was at her full potential.

          2. Rachel J. says:

            Janet, I wonder if you feel the same about speech therapy. My second daughter is 3.5 years old and is largely unintelligable to strangers. She would definitely qualify for speech therapy through our school district for an articulation delay. I have taken her a few times to a private speech therapist to feel out how I want to proceed. The SLP says the earlier the better because their brains are so pliable and in speech the early years really are a “window of opportunity” that closes/gets more difficult as they get older. I know I have adult friends/aquaintances who have a lisp or other speech abnormalitiies and I wonder if letting my daughter’s speech develop naturally is choosing to let her have a lifelong speech problem. The SLP says that there is very little scientific understanding, but that some children just don’t naturally create the connections from their brain to their mouth, they have to actually be TAUGHT where to hold their tounge when they say certain sounds, etc.

            But, I so resonate with what you said about how I want to communicate to my daughter “what you are able to do is enough”. Her family understands her, and she is thriving socially currently with peers. I am asking myself if I should put her in speech therapy because of concern over the future?

            Would you share your thoughts on this? Thank you so much!

            1. Hi Rachel! I see no harm in the speech therapy at your daughter’s age if it is given respectfully and with a light touch. I would frame this positively for her…as a way to help her be even more understandable to everyone, so that she can get her points across more easily. Then I might ask her if she would like to do this.

  22. Stephanie says:

    I just wanted to add that our language as parents while our children take physical risks is also very important. I often use to express in my body language my apprehension and still have to watch myself. I also said “careful” way too much and now have replaced that word with “keep looking” or “focus”. I use to run like a mad woman at every instance of a “boo-boo” thinking I was a better mother for letting my kids know I was there before they even felt the pain. Not that anyone should ever ignore an injuried child, but I was so overprotective that my kids couldn’t learn from small risks without mom swooping in. I realize now that this does not instill confidence and that society pushes us to be “ever–there”. That is a whole other soapbox, but does relate to this. We, as a society, are gradually taking out heathly risks in the name of safety. I encounter this a lot in the facility I teach at because of licensing. Ex. fake grass on the playground b/c of insects, removing age appropriate equipment b/c a child was running and ran into it. I think so many people are looking to blame/ sue/ etc. that it effects environments across the board. Healthy risks are just that –slight risks, where the potential benefit outweighs the risks and kids learn this way. Why are we being pushed to prevent and remove all risks? It seems an unhealthy hidden fear agenda is underlying.

    1. Stephanie, I totally agree. Thanks for sharing.

  23. I agree with all that you have said, Janet. My only caution is to be sure that clothing is flexible and not a hinderance in any way to movement. Our unobtrusive presence is necessary when children are doing something that is a challenge to their present skill level. We need not rescue them, but let them feel the disequilibrium of their actions while being sure they will not seriously hurt themselves.

    1. Great point about the clothing, Marianne. Thank you!

  24. Stephanie says:

    This is my favorite post, and happened to be the post that caught my attention to your blog. I have always believed in letting kids play and try things on their own, within safe limits of course.

    Within days after reading this, I took my kids to the park to play, and my then 24 month old son decided he was going to try to walk DOWN that arched ladder. I had to work really hard to control my silent mom-heart attack that I was having, but I didn’t say anything to him! 🙂 He made it nearly half-way down walking, but as the ladder became more vertical, slipped through the rungs. He caught himself better than I could have, hung there for a few minutes, as if to figure out what to do next, then dropped to the ground. He looked up at the ladder, turned and waved at me, and climbed back up! I was happy that I was able to get a video of it to show my husband that night.

  25. Look at how carefully and purposefully he moves up the gym. He is so focused and knows exactly what he is doing! I felt so comfortable watching that little man doing what he is obviously very good at. 🙂
    As an Early Childhood teacher and mother of 4 (ranging in ages from 12 years to 3 months) I have always been thoughtful in letting my children move, walk, climb etc when they were ready, and i hace endeavoured to encourage other parents to do the same and not ‘push’ their children….
    I also love seeing children who are ‘trusted’.
    We lived in a large how with many stairs. We never had a stair gate and trusted the girls (with a little guidance) to crawl up and down the stairs from an early age (6 months). With three children, over many years, we never had an ‘accident’ on the stairs! Many of our friends were horrified, however that we did not have stair gates! We wont be getting one for baby number 4 either!
    Thanks, Janet for a great website and wonderful, sensible, commonsense information!!

    1. Lou, thank you for your comment and kind words! I have to disagree with you about the gated stairs, though. I think parents should let babies experiment with the stairs, but not when they aren’t closely supervised and spotted.

  26. It’s really amazing what children can do when given the opportunity to try and practice. I think I’ll let my just turned 2 year old give the climbing wall at the park another try. She showed interest in it last time.

    Just want to add a story.. I was recently talking to a friend who was telling me about a 20 something year old who had trouble doing anything without his mother’s help. This is an able bodied, healthy man but he grew up with so much support and more than that from his mother that he now relies on her for everything. That might be an extreme example (some say it’s a generational thing?) but I have to agree that giving space, freedom and ability to make choices starting early serves them well through life!

    Thanks for sharing this!

    1. True! “giving space, freedom and ability to make choices starting early serves them well through life!”

  27. Hi janet I loved d video however its all relatively speakingIn a country like India little babies from the weaker sections of society grow up all by themselves their motor skills aree great however they never realise their full potential as the desired positive tools like encouragement care and being there when needed, are missing…therefore all factors have to come into play for an all round development.

  28. I would — and have. And now that she’s two, she’s done far more dangerous things at the ridiculously unsafe European playgrounds here in Switzerland. There is actually a movement in Switzerland, “No risk, No fun!” I trust my daughter’s abilities and I do tend to spot her until I know she’s got something down. My rule is that if she can do it by herself, she can go ahead. But I won’t lift onto the bottom rung if she can’t reach, for example. 🙂

  29. I’m surprised you make a point that babies should stay out of baby carriers (I assume you mean the kinds like slings, Ergos and such). They’ve been shown to improve motor skills in multiple studies (if you really want the research links I’m happy to send them.) In general I agree with your idea of giving babies freedom of movement, but baby carriers (and the rhythmic act of carrying a baby) have benefits that strollers, carseats and such do not.

    Also when I saw this video, I thought of my son, who climbed the exact same type of structure at the exact same age (and yes, it was just as scary). And he spent heaps of time in a baby carrier. So it can’t be too bad. 🙂

    1. I was thinking the same thing! My first son spent a lot of time in carrier as that was the *only* place he was happy. And I don’t use the word only lightly. Literally, that was the only place he was happy. However, despite going with the flow and letting him do his thing, he would have never done this at that age. He is 2.5 and still won’t go anywhere near a ladder, swing, or slide. He has never been “a climber”. He is far too cautious. He did master the stairs alarmingly early, but playground equipment is not his thing, and not because we didn’t let him or helped him too much. Actually, he never had help learning to walk because he hates his hands touched! I’m sure someday he’ll be all over the playground, but I also hope that any parents who have kids like mine who would much rather play with stones and run through the grass don’t think they did something “wrong” because their 1 year old isn’t scaling playground equipment. 😉

  30. So confident and so wonderful

  31. One thing that is lost here is that a child must learn to hold a parents Hand when told to do so, immediately and without question. Independence is great and the article’s point well taken, but a child does not know danger as an adult can, and should recognize. A child must learn to hold the hand of the parent when told to do so.

  32. This is such an amazing video and the post highlights what most of us want to do but have been conditioned to do otherwise. It’s quite hard to allow your baby to just ‘do’ what they feel able to do when it involves heights and climbing but I can see the benefits of being a ‘spotty mum’ and not just a ‘helping mum’. I have trouble stopping myself from rushing to help my LO when he wants to climb off the sofa but really I should let him try to climb up onto it himself…giving him the opportunity to discover what’s involved.

  33. Many ways to attain a goal says:

    Wow! How great. Love watching my two littles explore and learn how to move all by themselves. I have never taught my kids how to roll, sit, crawl, or walk. However, I do spend 12 hours a day with them an it would be impossible for ME to stay sane without using carseats to go somewhere, strollers or wagons for a walk, and carriers to hold the baby. Many newborns and infants need to be held upright due to an immature digestive system. How would you like to lay down and scream while your belly hurts? And spit up and swallow it over and over again? This statement is NOT FOR EVERY CHILD or FAMILY = “Time spent in restrictive devices like car seats, strollers, carriers, infant seats, swings, jumpers and walkers has been minimal or not at all.” Sometimes baby carriers are essential. There are some carriers which are not safe for a baby’s hips, but lots that are safe and very helpful for everyone. What would the mom of this child be doing with her infant while her son is climbing at the park? While it is great that this child can climb the ladder at 15 months, every child will learn everything at their own pace….it may take him longer to learn other things in life and that is perfectly fine. He will do them when he is ready.

  34. I love this. I always put shoes (usually sandals as we live here in Florida) on him when we go outside including to the playground. Should I not be doing this? He never wears shoes inside of course but i just thought I was doing the right thing…..

  35. My second son climbs everything all of the time & since he was little I would “sit back” and let him figure it out & help him if he wanted it. My son (now 3) is also a bit clumsy (I think he just doesn’t pay a lot of attention to what he’s doing) and a month ago he fell & needed stitches on his face. Since then I’ve noticed that I’ve been saying be careful more even for climbing things that he has no issues with. I’m trying hard to get back to letting him figure out things, but it’s hard since he had a bad accident (BTW, he recovered from the injury much better than my husband & me!)

  36. I’ve not been sure how to feel about my 13 month old wanting to climb everything. He’s not yet walking, but will position furniture to try and climb up on the kitchen table, which gets him to the counter, etc. I want to encourage his independent movement, but don’t want to allow him to get in a dangerous position and he certainly isn’t allowed on the table or the counter! He gets very upset when I remove him.

  37. My 14 month old is working on going down steps. He can do small ones, but not large ones without taking a tumble. He’s not interested in crawling down backwards even though he knows how. How should I approach this? If I don’t hold his hand I have to be ready to catch him, but I believe hand holding is ill advised.

  38. I’m another whose kids spent/spend a fair amount of time in carriers and while chairs like the Bumbo always weirded me out, I’ve helped them sit, stand, etc plenty because they wanted to. Our older girl could have been the kid in this video. By 18 months, she was scaling the equipment to the very highest platforms and slides (12 feet or so) and coming down all on her own. She never fell because of anything she did, despite my near heart attacks watching her from the ground. Our second is only 10 months but already showing the same tendencies. I agree wholeheartedly that kids need to be allowed to attempt things on their own but I have trouble with the idea that I should avoid helping them when they ask for it and enjoy it.

  39. This playground is a fairly old Iron Mountain Forge – Little Tikes unit of my design. I never in my wildest dreams thought that a 15 month old could negotiate that arch climber but wow how great is that! Even though this design is for 5 to 12 I’m comfortable with this play as the actual risk of serious injury is remote.

  40. Wish this worked for more affected kiddos with cerebral palsy, but it doesn’t. Their brains are wired differently. 🙁

  41. Fascinating to watch. With my 23 month old we take care not to interfere with what she gets up to at the park. She does what she is comfortable with and we just spot and help her if she asks. However, we made the one mistake of pushing her on a swing when she was around 14 months old and her father will do that as well. I did realise that we did wrong and she should have been left to get on, off and swing the swing on her own. However now every time we go to the park she will ask to be pushed on the swing. I do it for some time and then tell her that I will not be doing so after a set time. She will be upset but then gets off and rushes off to other equipment. Is there any way to reduce this swing time now? Secondly, she’s jumps from the sofa directly onto the floor and has had a few bad bumps. Ive never asked her to jump in my arms so I don’t know where this is coming from. Any advice?

  42. Hi Janet, my 7 month old son rolled at 4 months. After 2 weeks of rolling he stopped it altogether. Even tummy time won’t last for a minute since he rolls to his back in no time. He is not moving towards new toys also. I never made him sit except during mealtime. What should I do? Will he sit on his own when he is ready?

    1. Hi Saranya – Can you please tell me more about how he spends his day? I would only place him on his back on a firm surface and not on his tummy.

  43. AJ Wilson says:

    I have a question about ‘if they can climb up, they can get down’. I have a climber (just turned one) but I have been letting her figure out how to get down herself which results in a fair amount of ‘Get me down’ demands…should I be ‘telling her’ eg, lie on your tummy, legs over, drop down slowly? She was actually doing pretty well but one day her grandad was visiting and we were chatting while she was playing on the couch when she attempted to get down her grandad yelled in panic at me. That knocked her confidence. So should I be telling her how?

  44. I know this is an old article but I just found it today. I’m so confused by “babies usually choose to go down steps head first” and keep re-reading it trying to figure out what you mean. Surely you don’t mean they fall down the steps and the parent is just meant to stand by and let that happen?? That’s the only way I can think of to go head first… Or maybe sliding down head first on their belly? But that seems equally dangerous…

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