Lifting and carrying for arm strength, coordination and endurance

Most toddlers will start to transport objects from one place to another as soon as they are able to take their first steps independently. They take great pleasure in bringing things to other people and moving toys across the room. 

Carrying larger and slightly heavier toys challenges the toddler's balance skills, strengthens both the arms and legs and improves planning and coordination. 

Carrying large and heavy objects usually need the two hands to work together, and are good for encouraging the use of the hemi hand in children with unilateral CP. 

Toys and games to encourage lifting and carrying 

A box of plastic bottles of different sizes partly filled with water is an open invitation to a game of unpacking.

Encourage your toddler to carry the bottles from one place to another. 

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Carrying water in a bottle or watering can, and then tipping the bottle up to water  plants in the garden develops strength and teaches control and planning. 

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Cardboard boxes of different sizes for making towers 

Lifting, moving and positioning cardboard boxes trains the toddlers balance, arm and leg strength as well as planning skills. Have a collection of different sized boxes. 

Here you see Toesies and me building a tower together and then knocking it over. 

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Bean bags can be lifted, carried, thrown and stacked 

Lifting heavy beanbags take strength and coordination. Have a set of beanbags of different sizes and weights. 

Lifting a 2 kg beanbag is challenging. The child has to work out how to keep the trunk steady and use the two hands together to achieve this feat. And they also have to learn how to generate enough power in the arm muscles to lift the bag. 

Holding a 500 gm beanbag in one hand requires good finger strength.

Lifting a heavy beanbag is best done with two hands - and young children need to figure out how this can be done. 

Put  the beanbags in a box and encourage the toddler to unpack the box.

They can also be picked up and lifted onto a low table or a box. 

Sweeping with a broom and using a dustpan is another opportunity for developing upper limb strength and control 

Toddlers love to emulate adults doing chores. Give your toddler a chance to manipulate the broom and dustpan. 

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Return to:  Hand (fine motor) activities for toddlers and young children