Play and Your Toddler
Types of Play
Play is the work of toddlers. It is one of the most important ways your toddler learns and develops. Your toddler discovers and learns to understand the world through play. Play also helps your toddler see how everything and everybody relates to each other. As a parent, you can provide the safe environment for play.
Experts recommend that parents support toddlers to:
- Play actively. Toddlers need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day to help build strong bones, muscles, heart, and lungs. For more information on physical activity for your toddler, click here. Try dancing, jumping, running, rolling, and skipping.
- Play with other children, when possible, to help them learn social skills like co‑operating and sharing.
- Play in ways that help them to learn about the world around them.
- Play in ways that foster creativity.
Children can learn through different kinds of play. You’ll probably see your toddler play in the following ways:
- Solitary Play: This is when your toddler plays alone. All children like solitary play at times.
- Parallel Play: This is when your toddler plays beside another child without interacting. Your toddler will observe the other child and often imitate what they do. Toddlers enjoy parallel play.
- Imitative Play: This is when your toddler and another child copy each other. One toddler starts to jump and soon they are all jumping. Or you are folding clothes and your todder tries to do the same.
- Social Bids: This is the first step toward having fun with others. Well before the age of 24 months, your toddler will offer toys, looks, or words to other children. It’s your toddler’s way of communicating.
- Co‑operative Play: As your toddler gets older, she or he will start to play with other children. Your toddler might help to build a block village or take stuffed animals to the doctor. Many children are not ready for this kind of play until they are 36 months of age or older.
By encouraging your toddler to play, you are helping your toddler’s physical, emotional, social, cognitive, and language skills develop.