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New this month: Practice makes perfect
If your child has been walking for several weeks or even months, her confidence and steadiness have probably grown with each day. See how she's able to start and stop smoothly, or can stoop down to pick up a toy without falling over? Fourteen-month-olds also love to move objects from one place to another; they never seem to tire of pushing boxes and laundry baskets around a room. In fact, you'll observe that she's constantly in motion, testing out her physical abilities. She may try to kneel on the floor or a chair, or attempt to scoot up a staircase, or climb onto a coffee table. Her enthusiasm far surpasses her abilities, so monitor her explorations closely.
Your toddler may be coordinated enough to roll a ball to you, and may try to grab it when you roll it back to her. Sit on the floor directly across from her; she'll be occupied with this game for at least – five minutes! Rolling and catching are fairly complex skills, so don't worry if your child can't quite coordinate them yet. These kinds of play are all part of your child's need to explore the physical world, including the objects and people in it.
If your child has yet to walk, rest assured that it's just a matter of time. Before you know it, you'll be chasing her all over the place. Just remember that a child who walks as early as 9 months or as late as 18 months is completely normal.
What you can do
If your toddler is walking with ease and has started trying to climb, set up a "bridge" for her to explore. Take a smooth piece of wood (sand the cut edges if she'll be playing with this a lot), such as a 2x4 that's about 4 feet long, and rest it on the floor. Hold your child's hand as she walks across the bridge. Putting one foot in front of the other helps her perfect her balance. If you lay pillows along each side of the bridge, even falling will be fun.
In fact, you can let her practice falling: Set up a "pillow jump" with a pile of soft pillows that she can toddle up to and fall into (do it yourself a few times to show her how – she'll probably find this hilarious); as she gets more confident she'll soon be running up and hurling herself into the pile.
You can't do anything to rush this milestone but if your baby seems frustrated by her inability to get around on her own, try letting her use a stable push toy, such as a small wagon with a bar across the back, to help her cruise. You can also have fun helping your baby develop her gross motor skills by stacking pillows, or placing a low box (like an aerobics "step"), on the floor for her to crawl over.
If you haven't already done so, be sure to childproof your home. The best way to make sure that your child can't injure herself is to take a tour of each room in your house on your hands and knees and look for trouble – the kind your child could get herself into. Install hardware-mounted safety gates at the tops of staircases, plug electrical outlets, remove breakable items from tables where your curious child could inadvertently pull them down onto herself, and so on. And make sure that your hot water heater is set at no higher temperature than 125 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent scaldings.
Other developments: Refining the sense of touch, finessing hand and finger movements
Toddlers love to touch. In fact, they want to touch and feel everything they can – the bark on a tree, the family pets, the water as it pours out of a hose. If you keep in mind that touch is an important learning tool for toddlers, that it's one way they memorize details about various objects, it may help you stop saying "don't touch" whenever your 14-month-old stretches out a hand.
One fun way to encourage a child to explore her sense of touch in a controlled situation is to gather a variety of objects in pairs. For instance, get two unsharpened pencils, two squares of fabric, two pieces of sandpaper, two seashells, etc. – the more variety the better – and put one of each object in a paper bag. Then sit with your toddler and have her feel and explore the object that you've left out. Next, have her reach into the bag to try to find the matching item.
Emptying containers is still a favorite pastime. But a typical 14-month-old is also busy trying to perfect some finer movements. She might try to put on her own shoes, for instance, but become very frustrated when she can't do it herself, and gesture to you for help. Toddlers also love to manipulate objects, such as stuffing a box with blocks, or pulling pegs out of a pegboard.
To help your child practice her hand-and-finger movements, make her a latch board. At the hardware store, buy several different types of hooks and latches and attach them to a piece of wood. Your toddler will happily occupy herself opening, closing, and manipulating the latches, all while perfecting fine-motor skills. Just be sure not to include the very types of latches you're currently using to keep her out of forbidden areas of your home or yard.
See all our articles on toddler development.