Encourage Your Toddler’s Development Through Play

Being a toddler is hard work. This is a time of rapid changes and development and one of the primary ways they learn at this age is through play.

As your child moves through the toddler phase their play develops and changes and they will start to spend a lot of time engaged in role playing.

It’s a phase

Your toddler will have already gone through a range of developmental phases. They will have been working on developing their eye-hand coordination through reaching, grasping and learning to hold things. They love to repeat the same action and to put things in and out of containers – and into their mouth. As they get older they start to learn about cause and effect and like to make things happen – pushing a button and watching a toy pop up will be a favourite. They will also have been learning to pick up small things, point and ask questions.

Toddler development

As your baby becomes a toddler they will focus on working out how things go together and how they can make things work. Then your older toddler will go from primarily being a solo problem solver to being a much more active, social, imaginative, and creative little person.

Your toddlers use of words will also be rapidly evolving with new words being added to their lexicon almost daily. They will also start stringing words together, learn to follow simple instructions, and start using their words to find out answers to their questions.

Supporting your child’s development

There are many ways you can support all aspects of your toddler’s development through play. They are working out how things work and how they fit in to the world around them, and learning at an incredibly rapid rate.

Choose carefully

Toys that do everything don’t allow experimentation, discovery and imagination. You can help spark play by providing some toys that help get them started.

Enhance their play

Add to your child’s play rather than dictating it. If you are looking to develop solo play, choose a toy that will expand their play. If you are playing alongside them, get them started by letting them choose what to play with and then add to what they are doing. Or create a fun scenario using the props you have available to you and then let them take over.

author robynWritten by Robyn

Robyn creates content on Kidspot NZ. Her hobbies include buying cleaning products and wondering why things don’t then clean themselves, eating cheese scones with her friends, and taking her kids to appointments.

Favourite motto to live by: “It’s just a phase.”


  1. SarahBlair 03/01/2020 at 5:34 pm

    Kids are always learning and play is the best way to do it, I love to get my kids toys that use imagination. Its so much easier to learn while you are having fun with it!

  2. Alezandra 02/01/2020 at 11:26 am

    We call it imaginative play and yes this is the best way of hitting development milestones by encouraging their imaginative play. Little Tikes are good but give them a box or a stick and see their creativity soar.

  3. candyjanenz 29/12/2019 at 8:10 pm

    I think that learning through play is so important for children. It is great to look at what they enjoy e.g. water, dinosaurs, music and use that to your advantage by doing play activities through things they enjoy. My boys are so different with one loving movement, ribbons and music and the other one loving dinosaurs, cars and duplo but they can learn the same things through different activities.

  4. Shorrty4life1 27/12/2019 at 5:34 pm

    When my children were little they mostly enjoyed building thing’s from towers to the biggest marble race at kindy with mum before she had to run away. And also messy play between water and dirt. Anything to get messy splash around and have fun.

  5. Micht 23/12/2019 at 7:03 pm

    My little one i love playing pretend and in each item she picks up from a toy to a piece of food, she is able to see patterns, shapes and other cool things… its her imagination taking flight.

  6. MuddledUpMolly 21/12/2019 at 9:10 am

    Loads of great ideas here and so many great things that our three year old and future toddler would love to try out. I am all about encouraging children to make their own fun and actually play without the need for constant adult intervention. For my own childhood us kids just got to it so I aspire for my own children to play in the same way.

  7. dawnblyth 20/12/2019 at 7:24 pm

    Lots of free play happens in our house, and majority of the time led by our children. We find in our house if we, as the adults, continue to come up with the ideas, the children start to rely on those ideas and their idea making skills diminish. We love going outside, kicking a ball around, riding our bikes and exploring playgrounds.

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