Now that your baby has had his first birthday, you have a lot to celebrate! First, you made it through those infant months and second, you are heading into the toddler phase. Your baby will be developing many new skills in the coming year, including talking and walking. It's an exciting time for you both. Playing with your 12-month-old can help him develop those emerging language and physical skills.
Singing and Nursery Rhymes
Though your 12-month-old might not be saying many words yet, she can understand much of what you say and is learning new language with every interaction with you. Repetition of language is important for young toddlers, so teach her some simple songs such as "Itsy Bitsy Spider" or "Patty-Cake" and sing them with her often. She will learn to anticipate the actions you put with the words of the song and might even begin to repeat some of the words with you. She will enjoy hearing familiar tunes and rhymes as she begins to recognize them.
Give your 1-year-old lots of sensory experiences in a sandbox, water table, or even in the bathtub. Offer him plastic cups, spoons, or strainers for him to explore with. He will practice scooping and dumping as he learns how to better use the small muscles in his hand and wrist. Use a variety of materials for your baby to play with, such as sand, pudding, or rice so he can feel the different textures. You can also let him try out coloring by offering him large crayons or washable markers and tape some paper to his highchair tray to hold it in place. Always supervise him as he plays because babies put most things to their mouth.
Choose sturdy board books with large colorful pictures to read with your baby. She will enjoy turning the pages with you, and it is OK for you to follow her lead rather than trying to read every page of the book. Point to the pictures and name the objects you see to help her develop new vocabulary. Repeat them several times and let her try to imitate you. Even if she doesn't say many of the words yet, she will be understanding and learning as you read these familiar books.
By 12 months old, babies have developed a sense of object permanence, which is the ability to understand that something still exists even when he can't see it. This is why he will enjoy games like peek-a-boo or when you hide a toy under a blanket and ask him to find it. The KidsHealth website suggests varying your game by using a blanket over your face and letting him pull it off, or showing him how to cover his own face with his hands. Separation anxiety might have set in by this age as well, so play a game of hiding around a corner and then popping out to say "peek-a-boo." This will help him to understand that you will come back even when he can't see you.
As your baby becomes more mobile, she will be more curious and interested in getting to the toys she enjoys. By 12 months, many babies are standing alone briefly and taking a few steps alone, but to get around quickly she might still crawl. You can encourage her to take more steps by giving her something to push as she walks along behind it, like a toy shopping cart or a large overturned box. Hold her favorite toys and encourage her to walk to you to come get them.