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Developmental Stages of Play

Toddlers are ready to put all their energy into play! As your child gets older, play gets more engaging and fun for everyone. See what play typically looks like for toddlers here.

Two girls playing in sandbox

At one and two years old, toddlers have a lot to say and show you – and play is the perfect way for them to do it!

At this age, children typically engage in “parallel play,” or play next to others who are doing similar activities. For example, a toddler may be digging in a sandbox next to other children playing with sand toys. The toddler shows interest in what they’re doing and enjoys being around them, but isn’t ready to play a coordinated game with them. However, even though playtime at this age is not very interactive, toddlers are doing many different activities that test their bodies and language.

Toddlers’ imaginations are huge. Pretend play is a great activity for this age – like dressing up as their favorite characters or professions.

It’s not uncommon for toddlers to want to lead playtime with an adult. Toddlers often like to be “in charge” of activities and do things on their own.

QUICK TIP: Even though toddlers like to do their own thing while they play, it’s still a great opportunity to model turn-taking and positive interactions with peers.

First 5 California
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First 5 California
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