How to Get Your Child Jumping

Walking, running and jumping are the building blocks to gross motor play. Most children learn to jump approximately one year after they are able to walk independently; this is typically between two and three years of age. Here are several easy activities you can do at home to help get your child jumping:

Just dance, dance, dance…

jump1The first step to get your child jumping  is being able to bend (flex) and straighten (extend) the legs. Think: bouncing with both legs at the same time to a favorite tune. A fun way to encourage this movement is dancing. Put on some fun music and show your child how to bounce and dance, bending and extending their knees. Children often do this easily when holding onto something, so encourage “crib” dancing so that they can hold a railing and bounce away!

Reach for the stars

jump2Next, your child needs to learn how to shift their weight forward onto their toes, pushing up onto the balls of their feet. There are so many ways to practice this movement! Start by placing suction toys on a surface such as a mirror or window, just out of arms reach; encourage your child to reach up for the toy. Other easy ways to practice this movement at home are: putting balls into a mini basketball hoop, turning on/off the lights switches, and reaching for toys on the kitchen table or counter. Progress this to reaching overhead in open space, without holding on to a surface.

Bounce with it

jump3Now it’s time to put these two skills, bouncing and pushing up onto the toes, together. To do this, have your little one practice jumping using their hands on a surface, such as a couch. Using their arms provides support for balance, assists in shifting their weight forward, and also helps in pushing up from the floor. Mini trampolines with handle bars provide an excellent set up, with the added bonus of a responsive and bouncy surface!

Jump up, jump up and get down

jump4For new jumpers, it is easier to jump down from a 2-4 inch surface than it is to jump on level ground. Start your jumping practice on a small bench or step, practicing jumping down. If your little one is hesitant, start by holding both of their hands and gradually decrease your support until they are independent jumpers!

As you can see, there is a lot that goes into jumping for children who are learning this skill. Strengthening, motor planning, coordination and body awareness, to name a few. If you find that you are helping your toddler but they just can’t seem to grasp it, contact one of our pediatric physical therapists today to see how we can help! You can reach us at or 773-687-9241! Happy Jumping!