Games for toddlers
09:13, 11 April 2013
You and your toddler will have lots of fun playing these simple games, plus they will help his development.
Games for 1 year-olds:
Push and pull
If your toddler is pulling himself up and trying to walk, help him practice with a pushing and pulling game. Use a moveable object such as a child-size chair or plastic stacking box filled with soft toys. While he holds the edges for support, you can hold the other side and keep it steady. Then slowly pull the box toward you to encourage him to step forward. Soon he'll start to push while you gently pull. This will build his confidence for the day he finally walks on his own.
Who's hiding here?
Just as he loved peekaboo as a baby, your toddler will love to play simple games of hide-and-seek. First thing in the morning, take turns hiding under the bedsheets. At bath time, use a big towel. For extra fun and giggles, you can gently prod him when he's hiding. Say something like, "Hmm, is this a leg? Or is it an arm?"
Games like this show your toddler that just because he can't see something, that doesn't mean it isn't there. For a change, carry him into another room while he's wrapped up in the towel. He'll be delighted when he pops his head out to discover he's in a new spot.
By now your toddler can hold his hands open, but it may be a while before he claps independently. For now, clap them together for him, or let him hold your hands while you pat them together. Sit him facing you on the floor or on your lap and sing clapping songs like patty-cake. These will boost his language skills as well as his hand-eye coordination.
16 to 20 months
This requires some concentration on your toddler's part, so it's best played when she's feeling refreshed. Use building blocks to make simple patterns, such as three in a row or "two up, two down" to make a square. Show her how to copy your pattern using other blocks. Then let her come up with her own pattern, which you have to copy. Sorting objects like this into shapes helps your toddler develop problem-solving skills.
Go for a walk together and take a bucket with you. Collect small objects that interest your toddler, like stones, leaves, and pinecones. Your toddler will want to carry the bucket, but don't be surprised if she also dumps its contents and starts again. Toddlers this age love to fill containers just so they can empty them again. Meanwhile, she's practicing her hand movements and developing dexterity.
Roll it to me
Balls are popular toys for toddlers. Bouncy balls are best kept outside, but soft, foam balls make great indoor toys. Keep a close eye on your child when he's using these—some curious toddlers like to see what they taste like.
The best ball game to start playing with your toddler is an easy version of "catch." Both of you sit on the ground facing each other with your legs apart and toes touching. You can now roll the ball back and forth to each other without it going out of bounds. Fun for building arm muscle strength and hand-eye coordination.
20 to 24 months
Catch me if you can
Toddlers love to be chased. The object of this game is for your child to be caught, especially if she knows she gets a big bear hug and tickles every time you manage to catch her. For variety, pretend to be different types of animals, like a roaring lion or a scuttling mouse. A great game for building up your toddler's stamina – and yours!
Play favorite songs that could inspire your child to do specific actions—something with a loud, strong beat so he can stamp like an elephant, or something quiet so he can pretend he's tiptoeing past a sleeping lion. Marching to music is also great fun and easy enough for most toddlers to manage. These games stretch his imagination and develop his sense of rhythm.
What can you hear?
Take a big towel or blanket out into the garden and lie down on it together. Ask your toddler to close his eyes and listen carefully. After a minute or so ask him what he could hear, and tell him what you heard—the wind in the trees, a bird singing, a car driving past. This is a great game for helping your toddler develop his listening and descriptive skills.
Do you have your favorite games to play with your toddler?