Your One-Year-Old and Play

  • Garage sales are fantastic for picking up toys, even brand-new ones that have never been opened! Just know that the best toys usually sell out by 8:00 a.m. Learn to be an "early bird" and get there first.

  • Good old open-ended boxes make great tunnels for busy babies on the go.

  • Notice if your baby has a particular character that she likes—for example, Elmo. If she likes Elmo, buy an Elmo book, an Elmo rattle, an Elmo plush toy, an Elmo crib toy, an Elmo stroller toy, and an Elmo car-seat toy. You may notice how the familiar character keeps your baby calmer and less distracted.

  • Sometimes baby is more interested in people than in things. During these moments, spend quality time together and remember that less is more.

  • This is a great time to start playing homemade games with baby...winking and a kiss, Peek-a-Boo, and Patty Cake. Babies this age usually like to do things with people who follow a specific pattern. This is great when you're stuck in line at the grocery store or someplace else without a toy.

  • Babies this age start to really enjoy stacking toys.

  • Babies like to imitate you for play. Toys like pretend telephones entertain babies this age because they can act just like you.

  • Babies who can stand up in their crib often start hurling their stuffed animals and toys out of their crib. Don't worry, it usually doesn't mean baby is ready to climb out. It's just another activity. If baby does this often, get a few toys that can be secured to the side of the crib (like activity centers), so they can play with them but not throw them overboard. This will buy you a lot of time!

  • If you want to experience something natural, watch your baby try to climb up a few stairs. Climbing up is usually fun, but coming down is usually harder and scary to a baby. It takes time and then they usually surf down. What a thrill! It's hilarious!

  • New toys and activities may frighten your baby at first because she is unsure of it. Teach your baby to enjoy these things by introducing them at a slow, comfortable pace over and over again.

  • It's also common for baby to suddenly develop a fear of her favorite toys. This is normal. It just means she's starting to think more. Give her time and don't push the toy back on her. Let her do it on her own.

  • Babies usually enjoy playing with bright objects and things that respond and interact with them. Push and sound toys are great because they teach cause-and-effect lessons. When I push this button, that's so much fun!

  • When you go to another person's home, bring along something your baby is familiar with, such as an activity gym. This way, if she gets cranky, you can give her a familiar, soothing object until she calms down.

  • Babies get bored quickly, but there is an upside: you can use the play center for fifteen minutes and then use it again fifteen minutes later, and baby will think it's a new activity!

  • You could be better off leaving the first year birthday party gifts wrapped if other children are around. Young babies haven't learned the art of sharing yet.

  • If your baby receives two of the same toy for her birthday, thank your lucky stars and treat them like gold. Keep them both and put them away until you have another baby over. This is a perfect solution until baby learns to share.

  • Try not to give your baby his first piece of birthday cake on his actual birthday. He could get sick and he probably won't like it. Instead, give him a small piece a week earlier and get him used to it. By the time his party rolls around, he will really enjoy his birthday cake!

  • Be sure to get a picture of baby when she tries her first birthday cake, especially if she hasn't tasted anything like it before. Just keep in mind that baby needs to develop a taste for sweets, too.

  • If you suspect that a surprise party is planned for you, tell your spouse to make sure you are not carrying a sleeping baby through the door at the moment everyone yells, "SURPRISE!" Otherwise, the party will be fun for everyone else, but not for you.

More on: Babies

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

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