Your one-year-old will love the fun of Christmas, especially having lots of family visitors to play with – and learn from. Now that your toddler is enjoying being on the move and learning to communicate, Christmas is a wonderful opportunity for them to absorb new words, discover new ways to play and participate as a fully fledged family member.

Christmas fun

If you’re busy with cooking and sorting on Christmas Day, there are lots of easy activities relatives or friends can enjoy with your toddler. At this age, your child will get lots from working out simple jigsaws, playing with puppets and scribbling with crayons. Offering your family a box with puzzles, puppets, paper and crayons should give your child a wonderful play session. It boosts your child’s social skills to play with different adults, and encourages them to explain themselves.

Repetition, repetition, repetition

Between one and two, your child will really enjoy repetition. They use it to learn to talk of course, so repeat what they’ve just heard – or their own version of it. You can help your child by praising them as they learn new words, and offering lots of opportunity for them to refine their word skills. Echoing the last part of what someone says is called ‘echolalia’ and it’s a key way that your toddler learns to talk. Your toddler understands lots more than they can say at this stage, so don’t worry confusing them. With play and chat with family, you’re giving your child opportunities to develop communication skills and language.

Favourite stories

Your toddler will probably enjoy hearing the same favourite story again and again. If you’re starting to find the same old book a little wearing, letting friends or family take over the duty at Christmas is a great idea. They’ll bring new life to the tale. Your child can ‘help’ you or a relative to read the book, by pointing and naming characters in the pictures and explaining the story to grandpa, cousin or auntie.

Brilliant boxes

It’s said that children love playing with the box as much as the toy inside – and that means double the fun. With online shopping, cardboard boxes are making a comeback. Your toddler will love posting and retrieving, climbing inside a box, playing ‘hide and seek’ with you in and around a box, and even turning it into a carriage for carting favourite toys. Fill a box with waste wrapping paper for your child to rummage through to find toys inside. Reaching, rolling and clambering help with coordination and strength and using a box in different roles (e.g. as a car, a pet to ‘feed’, or a post box) is a nice start for early imaginative play. A box is a great free bonus ‘toy’!

This play idea is great for...

  Stimulates senses
Tearing wrapping paper, hearing Christmas songs, being surrounded by different voices and enjoying new Christmas tastes are all exciting for your child – with your reassuring voice and support all the way.
  Learning to talk
Hearing favourite stories again, repeating back what they’ve heard, talking with friends and family and sharing conversations with everyone they meet are wonderful ways for your child to boost their language.
  Physical development
Clambering in and out of boxes, searching high and low for a hidden toy and shuttling between family across the room keep your busy toddler active even when its cold and wet outside at Christmas.