Playtime becomes noisier, messier and more active as 1-year-old babies grow into 2-year-old toddlers. Kids learn through play. Blowing bubbles and finger painting with pudding is fun, but ask yourself what your child will learn by participating. At this stage in her life, she is developing important language, social and fine motor skills. Choose activities and games to play with your 1- to 2-year-old that are suitable to this age group and practice these skills.
Clapping games like "Pat-a-Cake" encourage your 1- to 2-year-old toddler's hand-eye coordination. You can seat her facing you on the floor or comfortably in your lap. Sing songs or speak rhymes and verses as you play. This will give her the opportunity to practice her language skills as well. Hold her hands open while you play with her. Use the game as a chance to touch, tickle, cuddle and talk. Show enthusiasm as you sing, clap and cheer. Oral communication, hand clapping, and physical touch will allow you to bond with your child while she learns to be social, affectionate, chatty and coordinated.
Your little explorer has likely rummaged through your kitchen cupboards more than once in search of noise-making items like pots and pans. Gather a variety of household noise-makers such as wooden spoons, empty boxes, containers, and plastic cups and jars partly filled with pasta, beans or seeds. Set them on the floor. Sit down with your budding musician and sift through your homemade instruments. Play along with her as she drums boxes, taps spoons against pots and rattles jars. Experiment with different sounds together. Play music and show her how to keep rhythm using the instruments and clapping your hands together and against your lap.
Help your toddler strengthen muscles and improve coordination skills by playing ball with her. As she nears the age of 2, she will be better able to handle the ball by playing a variety of simple games. You can use balls that bounce outside in the backyard or try a soft ball for indoor play. If you are playing outdoors, play catch with a small, soft ball that will fit in your child's hand. You can also choose a large, bouncy ball to kick, throw and chase around for fun. Indoors, sit on the floor across from her and roll a soft ball back and forth to each other.
Red Light, Green Light is an exciting game for a toddler this age. She will practice following directions and learn the reward of following through to completion. Clear the floor area of a room in your home to play. Say, "When I say green light, you start walking toward me. When I say red light, stop!" Tell her to cross the room and touch you to finish the game. Watch her as you play the first round. Once she understands the rules, turn your back to her and play again. When you say, "Red light," turn around and face her quickly to see if she stops. If she moves, switch places and let her be the traffic policewoman. She will delight in the unexpected "Red light" and triumph in reaching the other side of the room.
- CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Child Development, Toddlers (1-2 Years of Age)
- cpsc.gov: AGE DETERMINATION GUIDELINES: Relating Children’s Ages To Toy Characteristics and Play Behavior; Timothy P. Smith; U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC); September 2002
- Women and Children's Health Network: Child Development: Parenting and Child Health: Child and Youth Health: 1-2 Years
- Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images