The Best Toy For Christmas Is…

What’s the perfect gift for your little one? DR RICHARD C. WOOLFSON offers some suggestions.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

It’s hard to figure out the best Christmas toy for your one-year-old. She is usually more interested in the empty box and wrapping paper than she is in the toy itself. You realise that she also has a very short attention span.

Safety must always be your priority. She still likes to put objects straight into her mouth, so make sure her toys don’t have any small parts that could be swallowed.

Likewise, her toys should not have sharp corners.

Before buying, check that the toys have an “approved” child-safe mark on the packaging and that you buy them from a reputable toy shop.

Here are some of the play skills associated with this age group and toys to encourage these skills:

Hand control Your toddler can control her hand movements in a coordinated way. For instance, she can stack small wooden blocks.

Her pencil grip is better, too, although she is still not at the stage where she can draw a clear outline.

She likes a toy that reacts when she moves it. She enjoys pointing at objects and pictures.

WHAT TO BUY Toys that have sections which combine. For example, a basic puzzle board in which the parts fit snuggly into a flat frame, or a shape sorter, which allows her to push different shapes into the respective holes.

She enjoys playing with traditional wooden blocks that can be stacked to make a tower. Give her a selection of child-sized crayons and pencils, along with plenty of paper to scribble on.

Body movement Your one-year-old learns to walk on her own, without support from you. She enjoys play experiences that give her the opportunity to move around. She can also climb onto a low chair.

If she accidentally drops a toy on to the floor, she may be able to bend down and pick it up without falling over. By the end of the second year, some children can kick a ball without falling over.

WHAT TO BUY She likes energetic play that involves rushing all over the place. A pull-along toy on a length of string will give her lots of fun and encourage her to walk steadily.

Access to pedal toys also helps, although she may not be able to propel the toy and herself across the floor without your help – but she will try hard.

Let her play with a large ball and a small ball, using her hands and her feet. With your encouragement, she’ll start to push them towards you.

Understanding Your toddler is intrigued by how things work, and she likes to explore anything that she doesn’t immediately understand. That’s why she tries to poke her finger in the electric sockets.

She enjoys toy puzzles, although she may become frustrated if she can’t solve them quickly.

Your toddler begins to use her imagination towards the end of this second year, which stimulates her interest in dolls.

WHAT TO BUY Jigsaw puzzles – small ones with only a few pieces – and “nesting” toys.

The latter are playthings where the pieces stack inside each other in a special order, such as a series of small plastic barrels that fit inside each other, or plastic rings of different sizes that stack on top of each other.

She may be ready to play with a doll house that comes with toy furniture and figurines.

My Reading Room

Safety must always the priority. Make sure her toys don’t have any sharp corners or small parts that could be swallowed.