Toddler development

Stages of Play: 10 to 12 Months Old

One year! Can you believe it? How to play with your little ball of energy and support their development at this stage.

By Kaili Ets

Stages of Play: 10 to 12 Months Old

Source: Getty

Want to know what to expect from your growing baby? These guides share general timelines for developmental milestones and how to encourage new stages of play.

Before you get started, learn how to calculate your baby's adjusted age based on their due date and birth date. Much of your baby's development is tied to time in utero so babies born early may need time to reach full-term development.

What to expect at this stage

It probably seems like just yesterday you were preparing for your baby’s arrival—and now they’re turning one. It’s incredible how much has changed for you both this year. While your baby has grown and developed in leaps and bounds, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for all of the love, support, and guidance you offered that got them there.

Your baby is on the move (this means you are, too). From tummy to sitting to rolling, crawling on hands and knees, pulling to stand, and maybe even cruising along the furniture—they sure are busy. You may even see your baby let go when they stand and take some unassisted steps for a few seconds. Expect to release a celebratory screech like you’ve never heard before when this happens.

dad feeding baby in a highchair Source: Getty

How to incorporate play at this stage

Your baby may actively explore their environment and move through positions with ease.

  • To encourage increased movement, you can start to make some simple obstacle courses at home by placing toys at various heights or in tunnels. Place some cushions on the ground and entice your baby to crawl over them.
  • They can practice picking things up from the floor (usually through a squat) and putting them into a bucket at a slightly higher surface.
  • Make use of push and pull toys.
  • Standing and playing on the outside of an exersaucer is another excellent way to build strength while having fun.
  • Babies often love to bounce and move as they dance to music, so turn up the tunes and have a dance party.

Mealtime will hit a new level of excitement as well.

  • Your baby will be interested in various foods and want to use a spoon, fork, and even an open cup on their own (they will still need help initially).
  • They will start to help with dressing by pushing their arms or legs through clothing, and they love to take off their own socks and shoes.

Your baby’s pincer grasp will become more refined, and they may start to pick up smaller objects (watch out for choking hazards) or poke things using their index finger. Look for toys to help them further develop their hand-eye coordination.

  • Toys that promote pushing buttons to pop up a toy, putting balls into a chute, putting pegs into a board, and even putting some simple shapes into a shape sorter.
  • Ring stacks, stacking cups, or small wooden blocks can provide lots of opportunities for laughter and fun (the best part is knocking them over).

Milestones to look out for at this stage

By ten to twelve months, your baby will begin clapping and waving more consistently and will start to enjoy turning thicker pages in a board book. They may even point to pictures in the book, so reading becomes more of a two-sided activity. Peek-a-boo is still very engaging, and babies love to search for hidden objects at this age.

Separation anxiety is still at play because of your baby’s increased independence, and they may show a clear preference for one or two adults.

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