Toddler Talk: Stacking Toys

“1, 2, 3, 4, 5 …” I stopped as my eighteen-month son gleefully knocked down the tower of blocks.

“No, no,” I said. “Let’s stack 10 blocks, then you can knock it down.” I helped him to gather the blocks that were scattered across the living room.

We started again. I counted as he stacked the blocks. “1, 2, 3, 4 ….”. He laughed happily as he pushed over the little stack. “Yay!” he shouted as blocks flew across the living room, narrowly missing the television screen. Good thing they were cloth blocks!

Stacking blocks is an important milestone for children. Even though toddlers are usually more interested in knocking blocks over, your pediatrician will be checking your baby for the ability to do the stacking of. This is a visual-fine motor skill. Your baby needs to be able to hold a block, control the placement of the block and figure out how to balance one item on another. Then he should be able to repeat this process to stack higher and higher towers.

By 14 to 20 months of age your baby should be able to stack two blocks. By 17 to 24 months of age your toddler should be able to stack 4 blocks on top of each other. By 20 to 30 months a tower of six blocks is the expected milestone. Then by 24 to 42 months your child should be able to stack at least eight blocks in a tower.

Encourage your young toddler to build by giving him large blocks that are easy to grip, using ones that connect to each other is a good way to start teaching the idea that blocks can connect to build structures. After mastering this idea, your toddler can build free form towers with blocks that do not interconnect.

This seemingly simple skill will turn into one that allows him to build more and more intricate structures in the future. Your child may build cities and vehicles with plastic bricks or make forts using household items like couch cushions, pillows and boxes.

Stacking blocks in toddlerhood leads to a useful skill that we will use throughout life. As I was putting away the canned goods in my pantry and stacking mugs in the cupboard, I realised we use this skill all the time. Hope I’m as good as my eighteen month old!

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Published May 12th 2014 Toddler by Dr Sandy Chung

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