Play and Your Toddler
Encouraging your Toddler to Play
You toddler will learn best when she or he can choose what to do from a couple of options. Here are some ways you can encourage your toddler to play:
- Let play be directed your toddler.
- Be playful. If you like to sing or dance or do puzzles, do these things with your toddler.
- Use your imagination in play. For example, pretend to be animals. Move and make noises like the animals.
- Follow the cues your toddler gives you, such as “Roll ball, Mommy.”
- Provide a variety of toys appropriate for your toddler’s age.
- Set aside time to play with your toddler each day. If you are rushed, play singing, word, and guessing games while you are doing other things.
- When you put toys out, put others away, instead of having them all out at once. Your toddler may find it too much to handle if there are too many toys to choose from.
- Encourage a mix of both active and quiet play.
- Read to your toddler every day.
- Take your toddler outside to crawl over logs, inspect insects, pick grass or stones, and explore nature.
- Let your toddler help wash dishes, tear lettuce, dig in the garden, make beds, or whatever else interests him or her. What looks like work to you may seem like play to your toddler.
- Encourage your toddler to do artwork, using her or his own ideas. This may be gluing clippings of colourful paper onto a board or smearing paint with hands. Your toddler may need your help to get started and to understand what to do with the materials. Then, let your toddler be creative.
- Show your toddler that you value his or her play by giving lots of praise. Tell others how good your toddler is at climbing, painting, or building with blocks, and proudly show your toddler’s work.
- Gently stop playing if your toddler looks away or cries. Your toddler may be tired, hungry, or over‑stimulated.
For information about toy safety, click here.