Play is important for children's development. Here's a list of games you can play with your child from the age of one. They're simple, fun and promote your baby's development. As children grow, play helps them to learn, communicate and bond.
For children aged 12 to 16 months
The imaginary character
Imagine your child's favorite stuffed animal or doll is alive and well. Make it walk, jump, sleep. Include it in daily activities, sit at the breakfast table, put a bottle in its hands. Describe out loud what you're doing to help your child understand language. Mime happiness and sadness to help your child discover feelings and emotions and stimulate his imagination.
If your child is standing on two legs and trying to walk, help him practice with this simple game. Get a small high chair or storage cube filled with stuffed animals that you can move around. Have the child grasp one side and hold the other for stability. Slowly pull the chair or cube towards you to encourage the child to move. The child should push as you pull on your side. This exercise is designed to give children confidence as they take their first independent steps.
Your child can now hold their hands open, but may not yet be able to clap them together. Help them to do so, or let them take your hands and do it for you. Sit on the floor and place your child on your lap, facing you. Sing clap rhymes together. This will stimulate your child's tongue and hand-eye coordination.
When you were a baby, your child loved to hide his face and come out shouting "peek-a-boo". He'll also love playing simple games like hide-and-seek. In the morning, take turns hiding under the sheets. During bath time, hide behind a towel. Gently pinch your child as he hides, and you're sure to get a laugh. "Is it a foot? An arm?" etc. This kind of play helps children understand that just because they can't see something doesn't mean it doesn't exist. When he hides under the towel, carry him to another room - he'll be glad to see he's not in the same place when we find him!
For children aged 16 to 20 months
At the restaurant
Set up a small table in the garden with small bowls, glasses and full plastic water bottles. Encourage your child to pour water into a bowl. This little challenge will help them coordinate their movements while trying not to drop the water.
Reproduce a cube pattern
This activity requires a bit of concentration, so it's best if your child is rested to play. Use your child's blocks to make simple patterns, such as three blocks side by side, or two blocks up and two down to form a square. Encourage your child to use other blocks to copy your pattern. Then let him try to copy his own pattern. Arranging objects by shape in this way helps your child develop problem-solving skills.
Bouncing balls are very popular with children as young as one year old. Bouncing balls are best played outdoors. However, soft or foam balls are ideal for indoor play. Start with a throwing game where you sit opposite each other, legs apart and fingers together. Take turns passing the ball to the other without crossing the line. This is a great activity for exercising your arm muscles and hand-eye coordination.
Take your child for a walk and take a small bucket with you. Collect small objects of interest to your child, such as stones, leaves, pine cones, etc. Your child will probably want to carry the bucket, but don't be surprised if he knocks it over and fills it up again. Your child will probably want to carry the bucket, but don't be surprised if he knocks it over and fills it up again. Children this age love to fill containers, then empty them again! This is also an opportunity for your child to practice hand movements and develop dexterity.
For children aged 20 to 24 months
Listen to music your child can express himself to. For example, big, heavy sounds, to which he can pretend to be an elephant by stamping his feet. Or softer sounds, where he can pretend to tiptoe past a sleeping lion. Walking to the beat of music is also fun, and most children can do it. These little games stimulate your child's imagination and develop his sense of rhythm.
Inflated balloons are perfect for indoor play. They move slowly enough for children to chase, and they're relatively easy to grab. Inflate a balloon for your child's enjoyment and toss it into the air. Count how long it takes to come down, or let your child try to catch it. It's a great activity for learning to count and developing hand-eye coordination.
Developing your listening skills
In the garden, lie down with your child on a towel or blanket. Tell your baby to close his eyes and listen carefully. After a minute or so, ask your child to describe what he or she heard, then do the same, mentioning the wind in the trees, birdsong, a passing car, and so on. This is a great way to stimulate your child's hearing.
Kids love to be chased, and parents often love to chase their kids! The aim is to be caught, because that means you get a hug and a kiss every time! You can vary this a little by pretending to be a roaring lion or a speedy mouse. Once your child has caught you, let him have his turn to be caught. It's the perfect game for building your child's stamina and having fun at the same time!