Stages of Development

Climbing starts from an early age before a child can walk. Climbing is an important skill as it shows the child's ability to plan and problem solve as they learn how to manage their bodies on unfamiliar and uneven surfaces. It is also great for developing upper body and hand strength.

Exploring Climbing

Supervision, support and the set-up of a safe environment is essential as children develop their climbing skills.

  • Climbing is encouraged by placing toys or objects that they would like out of reach
  • When babies first start climbing at around 7-8 months they cannot plan to climb downstairs or off furniture, so they require constant supervision
  • Role model and support children as they learn safe ways to climb e.g., climbing down ladders backwards
  • Show babies how to climb under/over objects by doing it yourself.
  • Support children to explore safe climbing opportunities
  • Encourage and support children to safely descend from places they have climbed up to

Keep young climbers safe by:

  • Set-up and encourage children to engage in safe and age-appropriate climbing opportunities with mats and soft surfaces
  • Secure heavy furniture to walls or block off access
  • Set clear boundaries for older children to limit the height they climb to e.g., place a red tie around a tree at the upper limit they can climb 

For older children encourage safe climbing with:

  • Low monkey bars with mats placed underneath them - support children initially to hang and then drop safely
  • Climbing frames and walls with appropriate soft fall surfaces underneath
  • Trees with an upper limit where children can climb too
  • Use weighted boxes and tyres to build climbing adventures alongside children

All these activities are very important for a child's development but require appropriate equipment and set-up as well as supervision and guidance.

  • Create obstacle courses of cushions, tunnels, solid boxes, and cushions
  • Demonstrate/play peek-a-boo behind an obstacle
  • Play Teddy Hide and Seek as you hide behind objects.
  • For older children include climbing frames, slides and ladders in your obstacle courses 
  • Play Hula Hoop Car Trip and go drop your hoops and go on a 'road trip' up a ladder and down a slide

Initially around the ages of 8-9 months babies will:

  • Attempt to climb on stairs, people, and furniture, however they don't have the skills to get down from these places

Around the age of 10-12 months:

  • Babies will crawl and then climb up/over objects that are in their way to find a toy
  • They can now start to look behind them and lower themselves down from places backwards. They do this by sitting down, turning themselves around, and then climbing down backwards, feet first
  • At this age, they start to develop the problem-solving skills of what is safe and what isn't, however close supervision is still needed!
  • Babies enjoy stair climbing and love being given opportunities to practice


More climbing activities

children holding a parachute
Balancing, Running, Climbing
Head and neck control, Balancing, Overarm Throw, Walking, Standing, Climbing
baby standing facing a mirror with educator
Balancing, Walking, Crawling, Standing, Climbing, Grasping