1 – 3 years

Children need to exercise and develop their muscles. Running, climbing, kicking and catching a large ball all help in their development. Choosing age-appropriate toys is important so these skills can be practised. One to two year olds like scoot-along toys, a four-wheeled riding toy or pushing a large cardboard box. They won’t have mastered pushing pedals yet. Tricycles are great for the three year old.

Children also need to develop their fine motor skills. They will need these skills for holding a spoon and fork, for feeding, or holding pencils for writing and drawing. They can stack 3 or more blocks. A set of wooden blocks are wonderful toys as they can be used by your child for many years to come. They need the opportunity to scribble, hopefully not on your walls. Initially give them thick crayons and then progress to thinner ones as their skills improve. They have much fun playing with a large paint brush and bowl of water and painting the paving slabs outside. By three they can draw shapes and cut with scissors. Giving them puzzles to play with is not only good for practising picking up smaller pieces but also improving problem solving skills.

Children develop their social behaviour by role play. They like to feed their dolls or teddies. Having pretend tea parties teaches them about feeding and table behaviour. They love to play with pegs and try to hang washing on a line. When you are doing housework or gardening, give your child a small brush or duster, or some plastic tools, as they will love to help.

Babies communicate with us from the moment they are born. Their speech develops rapidly, from expressive babble to talking in sentences. Your three old asks many questions beginning with ‘what’, ‘where’, and ‘who’. They love to look at picture books, especially if they can name familiar objects; allow them to turn the pages. Having a nursery-rhyme CD playing in the car gives your child an opportunity to sing, which helps their language skills.