How to play with your 1 year old

That first year races past so quickly, and your baby has changed almost beyond recognition. After the birthday cake has been eaten and the guests have gone home yo might wonder how you will entertain your newly mobile toddler.

How to play with your 1 year old

Just like you

As your baby gets older she will start to imitate the things she sees you do. When you can, encourage this by letting her help you. She can stir the ingredients while you are cooking, follow you about with a duster while you clean, or carry an object or message to someone. Over time she will gain a true sense of self respect as she feels a valued and useful member of the family. There are some things which your baby cannot handle, such as an expensive mobile phone, because it is likely to be broken or might injure the child. In this case it is a good idea to get a toy version for your little one and teach her that she can only use her own, the “real” one is just for grown ups.

Sensory play

As soon as a baby learns to crawl they have outgrown their treasure basket. Luckily there is a “grown up” alternative that is just as fascinating. For heuristic play you will need several draw string bags or other storage options. In each one gather a large number of objects, similar to those you might have in a treasure basket. So you might fill one bag with short ribbons in a variety of colours, another with cotton reels, a third with pine cones of all shapes and sizes, and so on. When you want to use the bags put all other toys away and choose just two or three bags. Set the objects out and let your baby explore, doing whatever he wants to do. As with a treasure basket you will want to stay near by to supervise and reassure your baby while letting him explore at his own pace.

Learning language

Babies are learning language from the day they are born but between their first and second birthday you will start to notice it! Talk to your little one as often as you can, even if you are only giving a running commentary as you go about your day. Use full sentences and ask him questions, giving him time to answer. This is a good age to start to introduce longer books, with stories rather than just pictures, and to play around with words in poetry, rhymes and songs. Little ones will enjoy the fun and understand much more than you think they do, developing a wonderful vocabulary ready for when they do learn to talk. Avoid any “lessons” though, language must be learnt in a fun and genuine way, flash cards only teach single words and don’t really give the child any understanding of what they are looking at.

On the move again!

Babies learn to walk at different ages but by their first birthday you can expect your baby to have mastered crawling and be thinking about those first few steps. Remember that walking is a skill, and learning a new skill always takes time and energy. While you can’t teach a child to walk before they are ready, you can encourage them to move around. Put toys just out of reach, make tunnels out of cardboard boxes to crawl through, play tickling games and visit the playground as often as you can, even fifteen minutes is great.

Photography: Tzuhsun Hsu @Flickr

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