Moving Lively

Dance is an excellent way for toddlers to develop gross motor skills as they move and thinking skills as they consider the move they will make next.


It is a rainy day and Jaxon cannot go outside. Mom thinks it is a great time to turn up the music and let her little dancer twist and shout. Jaxon loves to listen to very fast music, so Mom picks a playlist or CD with fast music. As soon as the music starts, Jaxon quickly throws out his arms, stands with his legs apart, and starts twisting his body and shaking his hips, legs, and arms as fast as he can. From time to time Mom will join Jaxon and move with him to the song. On this occasion, Mom just wants to sit back and watch him let loose.


When Jaxon was an infant he responded to dance and music by smiling and perhaps even clapping his hands. Now that he is walking on his own two feet, he has enough control over his body to do some more complex toddler dancing that involves more body parts.

Activities like dancing will cause your child to think about balancing, moving, and shaking all at the same time. Often you will notice your child having difficulty and wanting to focus on one thing (like shaking the hips). This is okay because he is still building up his dance skills.

When your child hears music, it makes him want to dance without any prompting from you. Dance moves may only consist of him bobbing up and down with his feet planted on the ground. Your child is just enjoying the fact that he can bob up and down, shake, and move his feet without falling down. As your child matures, you will see him combine moving side to side with circling around. As he moves into age two, you will notice that the arms are incorporated in his moves. He’s having fun, too!

Your child loves having a dance partner. Set a time during the day to dance with your child to different genres of music. You may be surprised by how much rhythm you have!

As you encourage dancing in your child, you also encourage him to express himself and be creative. This will help him later in life as he learns to improve his coordination, build his spatial awareness skills, and think through ways of how to move his body.