Most childhood games, involving walking, running, jumping, and climbing, are useful for the development of the large movements of the body. All your toddler needs is a safe place to play and explore without too much restricted movement, and the knowledge that her carer is not too far away. Children are "all-weather" creatures and will really benefit from fresh air and a change of scene. Different textures and challenges are intriguing at this age:
- Walking on grass or sand, jumping on and off a step, walking, running (and later rolling) up and down hills, and crawling through tunnels, help children to strengthen their muscles and their reflexes.
- Swings, slides, and balancing are all fantastic for encouraging brain development. Your toddler may be ready to try some climbing, too. Make sure you balance your anxieties about your toddler's safety against a need for her to explore and learn from her environment.
- Toys to encourage holding, scooping, squeezing, and pouring.
- Games and activities that encourage repetition of movement.
- Sand and water play, finger paints, jigsaws, and wooden blocks.
- Running, jumping, and climbing.
- Kicking and throwing a ball.
- Blowing bubbles.
- Chasing and tickling games.
- Dancing to encourage a sense of rhythm and co-ordination.
Language and Senses
- Things to read and look at: board books with large pictures and pages, illustrated food packages, and glossy magazines that include pictures of babies and toddlers will all appeal.
- Things to write with: fat crayons and pencils, and plenty of paper (if you don't want scribble on the walls).
- Things that make noise: beans in sealed containers, wooden spoons, saucepans, flower pots, bells—the list is endless. Also, try making noises in unusual ways - for example, by shouting into a tube to create an echo. Make animal noises that your child can copy.
- Toys that are bright colors and made of contrasting textures.
- Nursery rhymes and action songs help develop language.
Make-Believe and Comfort
- Toys to cuddle: so many to choose from, but there is often a favorite.
- Make-believe toys: puppets and action rhymes, or funny, made-up rhymes and stories.
- Toys that imitate you and your actions, such as sweepers, tools, and telephones.
- Toys that light up or make a noise, for example, when a button is pushed—these help your toddler understand how her actions impact on things.
- Hiding an object under a cup and finding it together.
- Copying your actions and exaggerated facial expressions.
Excerpted from Your Toddler Month by Month by Dr. Tanya Byron, reprinted with permission from DK Publishing.