You may be wondering why your little one is intent on scaling anything and everything. The short answer is: because they can now!

Your toddler is developing the muscles and cognitive abilities to climb things, which help them explore their world. Encouraging your little one to climb safely can support their growth, though sometimes it may be better judgement to get them down from certain heights.

Why climbing can be good for your toddler

Of course, it’s natural to be concerned your little one will fall and hurt themselves. Use your discretion; are they high enough that a fall will injure them? What kind of surface would they land on if they do fall? Sometimes letting your toddler climb while you supervise is in their best interest. Climbing can help to develop:

  • Hand-eye coordination.
  • Motor skill development. Gross motor skills involve moving whole limbs, while fine motor skills require smaller finger movements like gripping. Climbing can develop both of these skills.
  • Confidence. Tackling a new height – literally – could boost your toddler’s self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.
  • Problem-solving skills. Sometimes climbing will require planning ahead or thinking on their feet about the next move.
  • Physical strength. Climbing can be great exercise to support muscle development.

How to stop your toddler climbing things

Sometimes, climbing is just a bad idea. For example, you should teach your toddler never to scale a bookshelf or something heavy which could topple over on top of them. Have conversations with your toddler about ‘safe climbing’ and ‘dangerous climbing’ and make sure they understand the difference.

If your toddler is climbing something dangerous or climbing around at a bad time such as when you’re trying to get them out the door, or you can’t supervise them, you can encourage them to stop by:

  • Distracting them: If your toddler is trying to scale something they shouldn’t, try asking them to come look at something or suggest you play a game. Simply grabbing them for a tickle or a hug could work too. After your toddler is down, explain how their behaviour was dangerous and why they shouldn’t try this again.
  • Burning energy in other ways: Try taking your toddler for a walk without the pram so they can stretch their legs and appreciate nature.
  • Going to the playground: This is a great place to let your toddler climb on a jungle gym designed for just that! Supervise your toddler, so you’re nearby in case there’s a slip or a fall.

Climbing is a natural instinct once children are old enough to start running around, and become curious about the world around them. Fostering your little one’s adventurous spirit and physical activity is great for their development, so focus on teaching them what is safe to try while still encouraging them to tackle new challenges.