Toddler playing outside
beautiful little boy in the park

Toys and Games Perfect for Your 12 Month Old

Developmental milestones abound.

Wonder what your baby should be playing with?

At the one year mark, your baby is something of a mini researcher, and all the world’s a colorful laboratory. Everything is up for exploration – especially their toys. Toys, new and old, are a great bridge in your baby’s path from sequences to programs. “Cause and effect’ toys (Landy), like pushing buttons for pop-ups and pulling strings for sounds, help your babe understand how A follows B.  And, in the coming weeks, more complex toy sets, like tea sets, train sets, and a car garage, help your baby discover that there’s more than one way to get from A to B.

According to studies, toddlers as early as 1, can exhibit aptitude for what’s called divergent thinking, or DT.  Divergent thinking is essentially creative problem solving — the ability to conjure unexpected solutions to get from A to B. (Hoicka) There is also evidence that this could be genetic, babies who scored high on DT often had parents who scared high as well. (Runco).

Little Boy

However your babe is playing, let them play! There are dozens of ways to roll, drop, and arrange toy sets, and your baby is almost certain to try them all. It’s important to encourage their new, expansive curiosity: studies have shown that one-year-olds touched a toy less after watching an adult display fear toward it (Mumme).

So try not to be afraid of the train set. Among peers, one-year-olds will continue playing with toys if they see a neutral gaze. Their touch, however,  decreases if they observe a peer with a positive or negative gaze (Nichols). Remember: it’s still relatively new for your baby to see other infants playing with toys, so they may not know how to react. The sharing reflex won’t kick in until a bit later.

Getting out in the real world and letting your baby see their favorite toys – whether that’s fire trucks, boats, horses, or cars – in action, and as one part of a greater process, is a wonderful way to help their discovery of a new world.

Nutrition Call-Outs Great for your Babe’s Developing Brain: Alpha-Linolenic Acid, Choline, Vitamin B6

Alpha-Linolenic Acid: Alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid, plays a critical role in cell membrane formation and brain health.

Choline: Choline is an essential nutrient that aids in overall brain function, and plays a critical role in early brain development.

Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 plays an important role in the body’s brain, blood and cell development, as well as hormone production.


Hoicka, Elena. Stephanie Powell, Jenny Knight and Megan Norwood, Two-year-olds can socially learn to think divergently, British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 36, 1, (22)


Landy S. Pathways to Competence – Encouraging Healthy Social and Emotional Development in Young Children. 2nd edn. Baltimore: Paul H Brookes Publishing Co Inc; 2009.

Mumme D, Fernald A. The infant as onlooker: Learning from emotional reactions observed in a television scenario. Child Development. 2003;74:221–237. 

Nichols, Sara R., Margarita Svetlova, and Celia Brownell. “Toddlers’ Understanding of Peers’ Emotions.” The Journal of Genetic Psychology 171.1 (2010): 35–53. PMC. Web. 4 Feb. 2018.

Runco, Mark, Ernest P. Noble, Roni Reiter-Palmon, Selcuk Acar, Terry Ritchie & Justin M. Yurkovich (2011) The Genetic Basis of Creativity and Ideational Fluency, Creativity Research Journal, 23:4, 376-380, DOI: 10.1080/10400419.2011.621859

Let’s build a healthier generation together