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Toddler


Playing with your toddler

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Expert tip


"Because play comes so naturally to children it is easy to overlook the many benefits. Play contributes to your child's emotional, physical and intellectual development; through it a toddler learns skills, such as how to communicate, count and solve problems."

Dr Wendy Masi, child psychologist and author

Playing with your child is the best way to bond and see them smile, learn and grow. We've put together a little guide for you to see how playing helps your little one and what toddler games are best for each area of development.

Play to boost imagination

Taking your child outside is wonderful for his imagination. All you need is the local park where you can play hide and seek, look for imaginary creatures, be pretend aeroplanes, or count the ducks on the pond.

If you're stuck at home, simple things like wooden spoons and old biscuit tins make a great drum set. Toddlers always find amazing uses for toilet-roll tubes, and a dressing-up box can turn him into a pirate or wizard for a good half an hour!

Repetition for brain development

Repetition helps build important connections in your toddler's brain, so even if you're fed up after the tenth "incy wincy spider", he'll love the familiarity. Singing songs together, re-reading favourite stories, or rolling a ball back and forth are all excellent activities.

Toys for co-ordination

Stacking blocks will help develop co-ordination, while shape sorters teach him to recognise different shapes. However, don't feel confined to a 'game' – make some biscuits and supervise him as he cuts out interesting shapes.

Being creative with glitter, crayons, finger paint or playdough will develop his dexterity, and he'll learn about colours too. Even simple ball games will aid your toddler's co-ordination skills, as well as teaching him about taking turns.

Something to cuddle for feelings

Playing with Teddy is especially important as it allows your child to nurture something himself. It can also help him to deal with feelings while he's learning how to express himself.

For more ideas and information on the benefits of playing with your toddler, visit the NHS website for their piece on why play is important.