The best toys to support your one-year-old’s development
A lot happens to your child between 12 and 24 months. To start with, from a year old they are no longer babies but ‘toddlers’, a word which implies all sorts of mayhem! But it’s also a magical time of development when children grow cognitively, emotionally, and physically.
Your toddler may start to remember recent events and actions, understand symbols, imitiate, imagine, and pretend. It’s important that they always have plenty of toys intended for one year olds, such as cause-and-effect toys and other educational toys, to nurture these developing skills.
Toddlers begin to form strong emotional attachments and may feel nervous when separated from parents and carers. And yet they are also experimenting with their independence, and adamant to do things their own way. Prepare yourself for conflict and more than a few tantrums!
Support your one-year-old by understanding their need for independence and encouraging exploration in a safe space. Just remember - this journey of discovery is tiring work! Make sure your toddler gets 12-13 hours of sleep a day (that includes a couple of daytime naps). From 12 months, you can safely put comfort objects (sometimes called transitional objects), like stuffed toys and animals, into your toddler’s crib to help soothe them to sleep.
Toys 12-18 months
Your toddler will hit many physical milestones between 12 and 18 months. They may be able to stand without help from you or support from objects like tables or other furniture. Once your child can walk without assistance, ride ons and walkers can help them to improve their balance and enjoy the perks of movement.
Toddlers are active and curious, and as they begin to have more control over their hands and arms they may help you to dress and undress them. Their fine motor skills will also be improving and they may be able to pick up small objects. It’s very important to keep an eye on them at all times; small objects are likely to end up in their mouths, so keep plenty of teethers and other chew toys around so they can chew and mouth safely.
It’s around this age that toddlers may start hugging, pointing to things when named, and following simple instructions like holding something or fetching an object from another room. They may begin to recognise their own name, and realise who that small person in the mirror staring back at them is!
Games like peek-a-boo can help to increase their understanding of object permanence, and pretend play with dolls imparts life skills and teaches toddlers important social skills.
Continue reading, singing nursery rhymes and songs, to develop your toddler’s language skills. Colours, textures and sounds remain as important as ever and will do throughout this first year. Activity toys support the development of fine motor skills through actions like twisting, pulling, sliding and turning.
Toys 18-24 months
Watch out! By 18 months old, your toddler is most likely walking and may even be running. They might develop a preference for using one hand over the other, start feeding themselves using their own cutlery (such as the cute sets from Done by Deer), and handle their own cup.
Their gross motor skills will be improving, and they are becoming better at kicking and throwing a ball, scribbling, and creating structures with building blocks. Support this stage of development with age-appropriate blocks, LEGO, and construction toys like the durable wooden stacking toys and puzzles by Kid’s Concept or the wooden toys by BRIO.
Sensory balls are another great way to encourage both gross and fine motor skills through concentration on focus, hand-eye coordination, colour awareness, visual tracking, and tactile awareness. The sensory balls by Filibabba have playful textures and a gentle rattle to stimulate your toddler’s senses.
At this stage, toddlers’ brains are developing nerve connections and pathways that are influenced by their experiences. They will copy and repeat actions, complete rhymes and parts of songs, and may start naming items in books. Their language skills will be developing fast as they experiment with between one and seven new words. By 24 months, they may understand around 50 words and could even start using sentences of two or more words.
Toddlers start feeling more emotions such as anger, shame, and excitement. These are big feelings that may lead to temper tantrums. They’ll likely begin to push boundaries and deliberately do what you told them not to do. Enough food and sleep can ease these overwhelming feelings although we’re sorry to report there’s no cure-all for toddler tantrums!
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