Ages 1 to 2 Years
This is a huge year, as babies make the transition from infant to toddler. The list of things that they learn to do during this year is staggering: walk, talk, run, feed themselves, toilet train.
And play. Their play is still largely concrete, as in “Can I fit this shape through this hole in the sorter?” and “What will happen if I stack the blocks this high?” In effect, babies are acting as small scientists, testing the boundaries of their world and seeing how things work.
So this is the time to supply them with the tools for that work — while always being sure that the toys in question are safe for children this age, who still tend to mouth objects. (In Canada, as in most countries, there are strict guidelines on what constitutes a safe toy, including how small a toy can be in order to be labelled as safe for any child under the age of three.) And I don’t care how brilliant your child is (and I’m sure he is, truly) — the fact that children are experimenters makes them vulnerable to danger when presented with something that has small pieces that they can ingest, or with a cord long enough to pose a wrap-around hazard, or what-have-you. I can’t tell you how many parents have confessed to having found a Lego brick or other small toy in a child’s dirty diaper, which is of course evidence of the item having been swallowed, in this case without serious consequence (usually the child is a younger sibling, who therefore has some access to toys designed for older children.)
- pounding benches (our favorite is plastic, has colour-matching activities as well, and allows the baby to watch the ball travel down and out of the box after being successfully pounded through the hole
- chunky puzzles
- age-appropriate imaginative playthings (Playmobil’s 1-2-3 is a collection of sturdy, colourful people, animals, trucks, and accessories (made in Germany of food-grade plastic) that encourage toddlers in pretend play.)
- baby-safe plush animals (embroidered noses and eyes, say, instead of buttons that might come off given determined chewing.)
- large-muscle playthings, like the Baby Basketball set from International Playthings, left.
Next time: preschool play.