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The Baby and the Trike

toddler with trike

About this video

Family time at home can be an occasion for a baby to learn about things and people in the world around him. When parents make playthings available in a “child-safe” space and provide unhurried time for exploring, babies can use trial and error to solve problems and find out more about what they can do with their toys.

In this video, 11-month-old Micah plays with a yellow plastic toddler tricycle. His parents supervise so he can take a few risks without much danger of being hurt. For example, they let him try to push the trike around while in a standing position. This experience helps him learn how to distribute his weight and how much force to use when pushing an object with wheels.

Micah’s parents also support his exploration in other ways. Along with his 9-year-old brother, they show interest in and enthusiasm for what he does by commenting on his actions. For example, when Micah succeeds in moving the trike through the doorway, his father comments, “Oh, there you go. You got it.” When his mother says, “This is a pickle,” she puts into words a problem Micah faces—the trike has “had a rollover.” Talking to a baby about his activities can help him pay attention to his actions and purposes, and it helps him associate specific words with what he is doing in the moment.

Micah’s family members also respond when he seems to be communicating that he needs help. For example, Micah initiates a nonverbal interaction with his brother by vocalizing, looking at him, and holding up his bottle. His brother assumes this is a signal that Micah wants help with the trike and responds, which affirms for Micah that he has communicated effectively through gestures, sound, and eye contact.

Open-ended play time has allowed Micah to explore what he can do with the trike over a period of several minutes. Eventually, as his mother comments, he will learn to “just (swing) his leg over that thing” and ride it in a sitting position. But he is already working on skills and knowledge that will enable him to ride it. He has pushed it, pulled it, stood while holding it, kept his balance while walking and leaning on it, found his way around obstacles with it, and made its wheels turn by pushing them with his hands. He has also worked on ways to make the trike go where he wants it. He is practicing to be what his father calls “a giraffe biker.”



Micah leans on the trike and pushes it toward his father, vocalizing as he goes.

Dad: Yeah! Yeah, buddy.

Micah vocalizes again and pushes the trike to his father’s leg.


Micah pulls the trike away from his father’s leg. Then he crawls, pushing it across the floor until it runs into a wall.

Dad: (laughing) Boom!

Micah vocalizes, then begins to stand up holding onto the trike, but it rolls and bumps the wall. Micah vocalizes again. His father chuckles. Micah pulls and pushes the trike until it is clear of the wall and rolls forward.

Dad: Ooh. Oh, there you go. You got it.


Micah crawls to the trike, which is turned on its side. He vocalizes, and begins pushing the back wheel of the trike with one hand.

Mom: Flip the toy back over for him.

Micah continues to rotate the wheel. He turns to look at his father, who is getting up to help.

Dad: Gahdah!


Mom: He had a rollover.

Micah pulls himself to stand by holding onto some furniture while also holding one of his bottles. He turns, sits, pushes one wheel of the trike with his left hand, and vocalizes.

Mom: This is a pickle!

Micah vocalizes, reaches for his bottle, and holds it up, looking at his brother (seated on the sofa). His brother gets off the sofa and turns the trike upright. Micah lets go of his bottle, which bounces off the trike.

Mom: Brother to the rescue.

Brendan: What?

Mom: Brother to the rescue.

Micah stands and leans on the trike, which moves away from him. He vocalizes and begins pushing the trike while crawling. He loses balance briefly.

Dad: Whoa!


Micah continues to stand by the trike, holding the handlebars.

Mom: We’re enjoying family time.

Micah stands next to the trike, moving it forward and back and pulling on the seat, while his family members talk.

Mom: If he just swung his leg up over that thing, you know—

Dad: Yeah.

Micah vocalizes and pushes on the handlebars.

Mom: Micah!

Micah continues to vocalize as he pushes on the trike and tips it. He pulls it back, then squats down beside it.

Dad: I’m a giraffe biker.

Micah continues to touch and move the trike while his family members converse about other things. He turns a wheel with both hands while sitting next to it. He tilts the trike and it falls. He looks at his brother.

Mom: (chuckles) He looks at Brendan. Fix it, brother!

Brendan sets the trike upright. He and his mother laugh. Micah moves it back and forth, vocalizing in a high voice. Brendan begins tapping on the trike and smiling at him. Micah looks at Brendan and bounces up and down slightly a few times, then touches different parts of the trike from sitting and standing positions.

Illinois Early Learning Guidelines for Children Birth to Age Three & How They Were Met

This list shows how Micah’s actions in the video relate to some standards in the birth to age 3 guidelines.

Self-Regulation: Foundation of Development
Attention Regulation
Children demonstrate the emerging ability to process stimuli, focus and sustain attention, and maintain engagement in accordance with social and cultural contexts.

  • Indicators for children (7–18 months): Focuses on one object or activity for a brief period of time, even with other objects close in proximity; still easily distracted
  • Action: Micah played with the trike for several minutes.

Developmental Domain 2: Physical Development & Health
Gross Motor
Children demonstrate strength, coordination, and controlled use of large muscles.

  • Indicators for children (7–18 months):
    • Moves from hands and knees to a sitting position
    • Crawls from one point to another
  • Action: Micah shifted from hands and knees to standing with support and from standing with support to sitting. He was able to push the trike while crawling and while standing and leaning on it.

Developmental Domain 3: Language Development, Communication, & Literacy
Social Communication
Children demonstrate the ability to engage with and maintain communication with others.

  • Indicators for children (7–18 months): Uses facial expressions, vocalizations, and gestures to initiate interactions with others
  • Action: Micah turned to his brother, reached upward, and vocalized. In response, his brother, assuming that Micah wanted help, turned the trike upright.

Developmental Domain 4: Cognitive Development
Concept Development
Children demonstrate the ability to connect pieces of information in understanding objects, ideas, and relationships.

  • Indicators for children (7–18 months):
    • Uses physical actions while exploring objects, e.g., rolls a ball back and forth on the floor, purposefully throws object repeatedly onto floor to be picked up
    • Focuses attention on objects, people, and sounds for increasing amounts of time
  • Action: Micah used multiple physical actions to explore the trike. He did so for several minutes.

Developmental Domain 4: Cognitive Development
Spatial Relationships
Children demonstrate an awareness of how objects and people move and fit in space.

  • Indicators for children (7–18 months): Begins to identify physical obstacles and possible solutions when moving around, e.g., crawls around a chair instead of under it
  • Action: Micah found that his father’s legs and the wall were obstacles to moving the trike. He tried moving the trike various ways to get past these obstacles. He also tried to fit the trike through a doorway.

Developmental Domain 4: Cognitive Development
Logic & Reasoning
Children demonstrate the ability to use knowledge, previous experiences, and trial and error to make sense of and impact their world.

  • Indicators for children (7–18 months): Attempts different ways to move an object to see what happens, e.g., rolls a ball gently at first and then hard to see how fast and far it will move
  • Action: Micah combined several actions as he played with the trike: pushing it, pulling on it, and moving the wheels with his hands. He was able to roll it, tip it, and keep it from tipping. He tried these actions from several different positions: standing, sitting, and kneeling on the floor.

About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Home

Intended audience(s):
  • Parents / Family
  • Teachers / Service providers

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Related IEL Birth to Three Guidelines:
Reviewed: 2017