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Balls of various sizes – to be thrown, caught, or rolled – develop hand-eye coordination as well as agility. Your child learned to grasp objects long ago – when she was between 3 and 7 months old – but the whole-arm coordination that allows her to roll or throw a ball at something (or someone) usually comes somewhere between 18 months and 3 years.
This skill is a progression: your child will start with rolling, then go on to bouncing a ball and throwing underhanded before finally learning to throw overhand. So if your toddler is under 2, start with rolling games, which will be easier and also less scary. (Something that travels slowly toward her feet may be less threatening than something that seems to be flying at her face or body!)
For indoor use, soft, spongy balls or beanbags – perhaps tossed into a bucket – are a good alternative. If you've got a long hallway, you might have fun seeing what she can do with an indoor bowling set.
Toddlers usually manifest "handedness" – a preference for the right or left hand – sometime during the second year of life, so you might want to keep your eyes open for such an indication. But there's a lot of variation in this, so don't worry if your child doesn't seem to prefer one hand to the other.
Return to How to Encourage Motor Development.