Your One-Year-Old and Play

Let your baby be challenged. That's how she learns. This is the time when baby is most interested in the world around her. Introduce the basics—try naming objects around the house and explain their purposes. Babies like to know as much as possible about everything.

  • Teach your baby the right way the first time around. For instance, when baby is learning how to pick up a spoon or a rattle, take the time to show her the correct way to hold it.

  • To encourage your baby to move and be physical, keep her favorite things out of arm's reach.

  • Hand-eye coordination simply means getting your baby's hands and eyes to work together. A great example is shaped blocks that fit into proper holes. The baby will learn that his hands manipulate the objects he sees. The more objects like this that you give him, the better.

  • When you sing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" to your baby, use your fingers to twinkle. And then see if baby tries to twinkle her fingers and sing when you are not around.

  • Music has a way of changing a person's mood from left to right, so keep that in mind.

  • Visit a playground or park once a day if only for fifteen minutes. It will challenge your baby, wear her out, and revitalize you both.

  • Learning to walk is an activity! When baby is getting ready to take her first steps, she needs your support! It's a bit scary for her. How would you feel about trying a back handspring right now for the first time?

  • If your baby is attached to a special toy, stuffed animal, or blanket, try to get your hands on an exact duplicate and never let the second one leave the house. If you forget or lose the original, you can pull out the reliable second one to save the day...or the night.

  • Keep items that your baby is attached to in her crib—for example, a blanket or a stuffed animal. Baby will wake up to see them and these items will comfort her.

  • Make sure you give your child the right toys for the right age. Toys and games usually have age-specific labels on them. Follow the age recommendation, for a couple of reasons. First of all, small pieces are choking hazards. And secondly, the right toy builds dexterity. A baby who receives a toy that is too old for her may get frustrated because she can't use it properly, and then she'll remember it as a bad experience rather than a positive one.

  • Occupy your baby in a play yard (formerly called playpen) with safe things that he sees you using around the house. Plastic pots, pans, spoons, strainers, and toothbrushes are usually winners with babies this age.

  • Put your baby into the play yard at the same time each night, perhaps while you're cooking dinner. You'll see how quickly this becomes his routine. It's great for both of you!

  • If you buy your baby a ticket to any event at this age, be sure the performance lasts no longer than three minutes from beginning to end.

  • While you are naming pictures and reading to your baby, don't forget to identify the alphabet letters and numbers while you're at it.

  • If you take time now to instill a love for reading, puzzles, crayons, and painting with water, you will be able to keep your baby occupied for hours and hours in the future.

  • Balls, balls, balls...as well as plush toys (soft stuffed animals and the like) are perfect for babies this age. Get as many as you can, because they are safe, entertaining, and encourage development.

  • Babies this age need bigger toys because they are just learning how to coordinate and hold objects. Little toys are choking hazards, so keep them far from baby, and keep older children and their toys away from baby.

  • No balloons! Balloons are great to look at, but they become choking hazards when they pop.

More on: Babies


Copyright © 2006 by Jeanne Murphy. Excerpted from And Baby Turns One with permission of its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon.com.

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