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Play at Any Age Toddler play

How to play with your toddler from 12-24 months (and win a Little People Farm!)

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This is part 5 of our Play at Any Stage series with Fisher-Price. See other age groups, from birth to 12 months and 2 years upwards, here.

You’ve made it through your first year of parenting, and your baby (now technically a toddler) is thriving! 

At this age, toddlers are able to communicate their emotions and play in so many different ways, giving you lots more options for some fun. We talked to Lauren Celenza, child development specialist and researcher at the Fisher-Price Play Lab to find out what’s actually going for your baby and how to encourage playtime. “You’re really going to start to notice that their personality is coming through and they’re going to start to play with their emotions and try things out,” says Lauren. “And they’re growing in so many different ways physically as well.”

As from birth, play continues to be an essential part of your baby’s development. ”It’s how they develop socially, emotionally and physically,” says Lauren. “They’re learning everything through play and discovery and exploration.”  So up until now, you’ve been playing, singing and reading to your little one on a daily basis and it shows! But there’s still more learning to do and different ways of doing it. Here’s some expert tips on how to play with your one-year-old.  

Watch our full chat with Lauren Celenza, with play and development advice for toddlers from 12 months to 3 years, on Facebook.

Playing with your one-year-old

Toddlers love exploring new things and being active is really important for a toddler to develop their fine and gross motor skills. Your toddler might be walking now, or showing signs of walking (pulling themselves up on furniture etc), but don’t worry if they aren’t. All babies are different and some don’t walk until they are 15-18 months old. “Babies develop at all different rates and stages,” says Lauren. “I’ve seen babies walk as early as 8 months and then I’ve seen babies walk as late as 18 months.”

Socially and emotionally, your child might be starting to have an interest in other children. “They may not want to play with them just yet, it’s what we call parallel play,” says Lauren. “They want to play next to or near another child, but they don’t necessarily want to engage right away and that’s totally normal.” They may also start to show empathy to others. For example, they might get upset when they see someone else who is sad. 

Milestones to look out for

  • Social and emotional milestones: shows affection with hugs, smiles and pats – especially towards parents.
  • Physical milestones: becomes an accomplished, confident walker
  • Cognitive milestones: explores environments and says words like ‘mum’ and ‘dad’

Play ideas, games and toys for a one-year-old 

  • Drawing and finger painting: your toddler is old enough to explore their inner Picasso! Just make sure you’re using non-toxic paints and crayons. 
  • Enjoy nature together: get outside with your little one and while you’re there, start chatting about your surroundings and what you see. For example, the trees or wildlife, the cars driving past and the colours you can see. 
  • Read stories: reading is great for bonding, slowing down and teaching your toddler important literacy skills, and it’s a habit they will hopefully keep up for the rest of their life. 
  • Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Learning Table: loaded with exciting activities for your baby to stack, spin, flip, and press all play time long!
  • Sensory play: cook some spaghetti, let it cool and give your toddler a bowl of it to play with. Give them some beans, rice, even paper. Shaving cream is also a great texture, anything that is cool on their hands. Pop some in a zip lock bag with some food colouring and let the fun begin!
  • Mirrors: Toddlers love to look at themselves in the mirror. Pop you and your toddler in front of the mirror and have some fun pulling faces. You could incorporate music and some dress ups, like a hat or scarf. 
  • Playdough: whether you make it yourself or buy it, playdough is so much fun to play with. 
  • Parallel playing: toddlers enjoy playing side-by-side at this stage. You can also do this via Facetime. Organise a meeting with a friend whose baby is the same age so they can watch each other, while you chat to both of them and sing songs together. 
  • Fisher-Price 3-in-1 Sit, Stride and Ride Lion: an interactive toy offering tons of fun for when your child can sit independently.
  • Cubbies and tunnels: have some fun building a fort or create a tunnel out of cardboard boxes or put some chairs together with a blanket over them – encourage your toddler to crawl through. 

Speak with your GP or child and family health nurse if you’re concerned about baby development or you need support.

GIVEAWAY TIME

Win a Fisher-Price toddler pack, valued at $93.97, made up of a Little People Farm ($79.99) and 2 Little People figure packs ($6.99 each).

Competition closes 11.59pm (AEST) on July 31st, 2021. Full terms and conditions here.

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