Slides, Swings, and Sippy Cups
Give baby his first trip down the slide unattended at 15 to 18 months, says Jody L. Jensen, PhD, associate professor of kinesiology and health education at the University of Texas at Austin. Once a baby starts to walk well, he has the ability to control his trunk and make adjustments in his body posture, which allows him to slide and land at the bottom safely on his own.
Put baby on a "big kid" swing three to six months after he learns to walk. According to Jensen, once children have mastered the task of walking, they are better at "reactive balance," which means they can adjust tension in their arms to maintain balance and control. Just make sure the swing is fairly low to the ground, and keep your pushes gentle to avoid frightening accidents.
Buy your baby a ride-on toy once she can sit steadily. Some kids may be advanced enough to coordinate their feet to propel it forward or backward; others may simply enjoy the ride if you push them.
Buy your baby a tricycle at 18 months. While he may not be able to properly coordinate the motion of pedaling until he's older, he may still enjoy sitting on the trike and holding onto the handlebars.
Stop using sippy cups when your child is 18 months old. By that age, a child should be able to drink from a half-full cup without spilling too much. While you may still want to use the ubiquitous sippy in the car or in the playroom, try to give your child a chance to drink lidless, at least at the table. Just keep a sponge handy.