16 - 18 Months

Collecting and transporting

Young child carrying a basket filled with colorful balls

A few months ago, your toddler might have carried objects from one place to another one-by-one in their hands. Somewhere between 17 and 24 months, they will start to get more strategic, using a bucket or container to be more efficient. 

Their little bustling movements might not seem to have a purpose to you, but your toddler definitely has a plan 😉 They’re starting to use tools to solve problems, thinking ahead and inventing new methods to reach their goals. 

Walking while carrying (or pushing) an object requires more coordination and motor skills than walking empty-handed. By holding on to a bucket or basket while walking, your toddler learns they can carry several items from place to place.

The best containers for transporting have two rigid handles and a wide opening, like a basket. Baby strollers and small shopping carts are appealing for this purpose too.

Your toddler is also learning to put a group of items into a container without taking any out until they’re finished. Putting objects in containers and taking them all out again increases focus and extends your toddler’s attention span. They are practising more refined grasp and release skills while cultivating independence.

How to support your transporting toddler:

Walk backwards

Woman and toddler carrying a wooden box together outside

To practice walking backwards, ask them to help you carry the large bucket to another part of the room. Let them walk backwards, holding one edge of the bucket while you slowly push the other. 

Model transporting

Show your toddler how to use the bucket to transport or carry things during play.

Place small items in a container

In photo: Treasure Basket and Felt Ball Set from The Inspector Play Kit

Give your toddler a group of items (maybe some beads from the lacing kit) and a container, and encourage them to put all the beads into the container. Mastering this skill may also make clean-up more fun 💫

Find and collect treasures

Give your child a container and take them on a walk outside or around your home. See if they want to pick up “treasures” they find along the way, and invite them to put everything they find in the container. You might be surprised by how long your toddler will be happy to walk, picking up treasure after treasure for their collection.

Pack your bags

Young child putting a water bottle into a yellow bag

Allow your toddler to help you pack a bag when you’re going on an adventure. They can put in nappies, wipes, a water bottle, snacks, books, or small toys.

Build motor skills

Your toddler will build gross and fine motor skills—as well as curiosity—as they walk, squat, and collect objects.


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Posted in: 16 - 18 Months, Gross Motor, Sorting, Real World Play, House Tours, Playtime & Activities, Child Development

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