How Your 1-Year-Old Plays
Why is playing important?
In short, for a young child, playing is learning. Play helps children to learn about the world around them. In addition, play gives children the chance to exercise control over their own lives for a little while. They can make choices, direct actions, and make up the rules.
Through play, children are able to practice their language, social, fine-motor, and large-motor skills. In addition, the creativity and imagination required can help stimulate mental development.
I took my 1-year-old to a playgroup the other day and my child didn't seem to play with anyone. What could be wrong?
It actually sounds as if your 1-year-old is quite normal. Young toddlers typically engage in what’s known as “parallel play”—they’ll sit next to one another while each is involved in his or her own task. They don’t usually interact with one another.
Don’t worry. After developing and gaining language skills, your child will be ready for more cooperative play.
My 1-year-old seems to have trouble sharing toys. What can I do?
Your toddler’s inability to share is perfectly normal. At this age, a child doesn’t really understand what sharing means.
With young toddlers, it’s best to have lots of toys available when playmates come to visit. However, even then, be prepared to help sort out the squabbles that will arise.
If your child seems particularly possessive, it may help to let your toddler choose a few favorite toys to be put away. Having some “say” may make your child feel more willing to share other toys.
What toys are suitable for 1-year-olds?
Appropriate toys include:
- Push toys/pull toys
- Keyboards, drums, and other musical toys
- Board books
- Shape sorters
- Dolls and stuffed animals
- Play household items (dishes, phones, etc.)
- Cars, trucks, trains
- Riding toys
- Large crayons
- Play clay or dough
- Avoid small toys and/or toys that contain small objects as they might cause chocking.
- Always check the toys label to make sure that it is suitable for your sons age
Is it okay for my 1-year-old to watch television?
Some experts do not believe that television is appropriate for young toddlers. For instance, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend television for children age 2 years or younger.
Significant brain growth and development occur during the first years of life. In order to support this development, children need to talk to and play with other children and adults. Because experts worry that television watching may discourage this interaction, they advise against it for young toddlers.
My 1-year-old doesn't sit long enough to play. What can I do?
Your 1-year-old actually is playing, but is just choosing to work more on large motor skills right now. Young toddlers have a lot of energy, and they’re still learning the finer points of running, jumping, and climbing. Give your child plenty of room to run around and climb safely.