Learning Toys for Busy 13 Month Olds


Once your baby turns one, his or her skills, interests and mobility will take be undergoing some dramatic shifts. Translation: your little one will be BUSY!

If you're like most parents, you turn to new activities and toys to help keep your little one occupied and learning. Here's a Facebook Live broadcast, in which I shared a few of my favorite learning toys for the developmental skills and interests of a young one-year-old. The recap is below if you'd rather read. 

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13 Month Skill: Stacking

Visual motor skills (or what non-child development nerds call hand-eye coordination) for this age include stacking and putting objects in a very defined space, like a ring on a dowel. I love a good wooden stacker toy for this purpose:

Melissa & Doug Wooden Stacker

Occupational Therapist Tips: Display your child's stacker on an open shelf for self-directed play and display it disassembled. Use a shallow tray to contain the rings and place one ring on the dowel to give baby an idea of the activity. I also love this wooden stacker because the flat rings can be used for other activities at this and later stages of development - like stacking without the dowel, rolling and spinning, lacing on a thick string, naming colors putting pegs in, etc. 

13 month skill: scribbling

Pre-writing skills start early but it can be scary to hand a magic marker and paper to a 13 month old who might be more inclined to put it in his mouth or rip it! As I suggest in this post all about introducing writing tools to your baby and toddler, a great choice for this age group is a Travel MagnaDoodle.

Occupational Therapist Tips: At this age, your baby won't have a consistent proper grasp on a writing tool and very likely won't have consistent hand dominance. That's okay! Learn ways to play with your scribbling 13 month old

13 month skill: pointing

Pointing is a fabulous fine motor skill to encourage in your little one. I love Poke A Dot books for pointing play. Bonus: they're also great for older toddlers and preschoolers who are learning to count objects as they touch them (a skill called one to one correspondence). 

13 MONTH SKILL: Reciprocal Ball Play

Reciprocal play means that your little one is starting to take turns back and forth with very simple tasks. Ball play is a great way to engage this new social skill as well as ball skills like rolling and throwing (baby will need total help to catch at this age). It works best to have two big people (adults or much older kiddos) so that one can assist your baby. Any ball will do but I love a Bumpy ball with its added sensory feedback for little hands. 

Occupational Therapist Tips: This makes a great activity for reinforcing words like "stop, go, more, my turn, etc." or to use baby sign language. Learn more about using signs with your baby

13 Month skill: propelling a ride-on toy

This age group is all about independent mobility! Even if your little one isn't yet walking, he or she can get moving on a ride-on toy. I love the narrow seat of the Radio Flyer Ride 2 Glide which tends to encourage a one-leg-at-a-time movement pattern like walking (called reciprocal leg movements). Bonus: this ride-on easily converts to a first scooter toy as baby becomes a full-fledged toddler!

Occupational Therapist Tip: You may notice a trend that I LOVE toys that can grow with a child through several ages and stages. This isn't solely because I strive to be a toy minimalist. It's also because often (not always, but often) these toys are well-designed with development in mind. And that should make all parents feel good about owning them!

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