The first year of life is one of the most important phases in the development of any child, covering a range of different milestones in terms of both physical and cognitive development. Upon reaching the age of 12 months, the average child should be able to do the following; crawl, pull themselves into both a sitting and standing position, walk either supported or unsupported, finger feed themselves, perform simple gestures, attempt to imitate words and talk to themselves (although often incoherent). Other actions may include, looking for hidden objects, using tools and objects correctly (pretend to eat with utensils or to talk on the phone). There may also be an increasing awareness of the presence of adults and shyness displayed towards those other than the principal carers.
Is Play Important?
Play is something that all children do – it is their main occupation and toys are their tools. With so many significant physical and cognitive milestones to be achieved, the selection and quality of toys available to the child are important.
Why Is It So Important to Choose the Right Toys?
Children at this age need toys which help to engage them with their surroundings whilst promoting interaction. During their first few months of life, babies primarily develop their cognitive skills through observation as they don’t have the ability to hold or manipulate toys. As they grow, however, children begin to physically engage with their toys, learning through their play.
Toys may have varying textures or make specific noises and should be designed to stimulate the child’s imagination as well as being appropriate to their developmental phase. Most infants of around 12 months are teething, which means they have a tendency to put their toys into their mouths in an attempt to relieve the pain.
Some toys only have one specific play function i.e. it may only be used for its intended purpose – toys which provide the best play value are those which can be used for multiple purposes and may be used by the child to play alone or during play with other children. Multiple purpose toys can also encourage creative play, such as acting out social situations in turn helping to develop a growing awareness of the world and explore and solve problems. Good toys should not be gender-specific but enjoyed by both boys and girls. Play is also a good opportunity to improve bonding between parent and child.
Choosing Toys – Considerations
Children are generally attracted by bright and contrasting colours – these provide not only visual stimulation but can also be used to help teach and reinforce associated language.
Children around the 12-month mark are fascinated by reflections and indeed their own appearance in the mirror. Toys with mirrors spark both curiosity and provide engaging entertainment.
Although they look surprisingly simple, rattles actually offer a wide range of cognitive benefits such as improved hand eye coordination and increased object awareness.
Multi-Sensory toys offer varying textures, sounds and visual stimulation engaging young children both cognitively and physically – sensory toys allow young children to explore and have fun at the same time.
Push toys provide additional support for toddlers who are not quite ready to stand unaided, helping to boost balance and coordination. Both push and pull toys prompt self-confidence - young children find pushing or pulling their toys along in front or behind them extremely rewarding, making this a popular choice of toy.
Children of this age love to experiment in different sounds and rhythms – any percussion instruments which produce sound and initiate musical freedom allow children the freedom to experiment with different noises.
Wooden blocks and shape sorting toys are perfect for small hands and provide 1-year olds with a wide variety of entertainment as well as teaching valuable problem-solving skills, dexterity, spatial awareness and concentration - such toys can also be used for several years. Numbered or lettered blocks are especially useful in assisting in number and letter recognition, language development and counting skills.
Good for hand to eye coordination, dexterity and colour recognition, shape stacking toys provide hours of endless entertainment.
Vehicles for children remain an eternally popular choice of toy and are perfect for activating role play and stimulating the imagination. From pretend driving on a road with cars to loading lorries and using other types of heavy-duty equipment such as diggers, tractors, fire engines etc.
Most children display interest and curiosity into the animal world from a very early age and this often remains a popular theme for many years. Animal toys invite endless play opportunities as well as educational ones – children learn about the natural world and pick up associated language along the way.
The classic hammer pounding toy – where shapes are hammered down only to spring back up again, seems to be a universally popular one with younger children. This type of toy not only offers great fun, but also provides a fantastic way of promoting hand to eye coordination and manual dexterity.
Offering physical support for walking as well as a reliable form of entertainment – allowing 12-month olds to develop their balance as well as engage in an activity. Toys such as activity walkers help young children to develop confidence in the early months when they begin to learn how to walk.
Mirror Activity Tile
Children are fascinated by their own reflections in the mirror – toys such as the mirror activity tile provide stimulation and engagement - the perfect choice for entertainment.
Our Petilou baby and toddler collection is designed to engage infants from birth, with educational wooden toys introducing learning through play. Explore our full collection or contact our friendly team if you need any help finding the right toy for your little one.