Creative play for toddlers may seem like they're just having fun and games, but truly it is so much more than that. Play is a critical part of your toddler's development and, in fact, you will generally watch your child go through several different types of play development styles. Each stage helps children learn and develop critical skills that they will use throughout their lifetime, like creativity, problem-solving, and willingness to take risks.
Key Stages of Creative Play for Toddlers
Did you know that while newborns will naturally smile, such as in their sleep, the idea of social smiling is something that they must learn? The more the adults around a baby smile and laugh with the baby, the more the baby learns to practice smiling, and eventually, giggling. It's similar to creative play for toddlers.
Let's look at the known stages of play development to get more understanding of this.
- Unoccupied play (birth to 3 months). This is the stage when babies are first learning how to move their bodies. They are swinging and jerking their hands, feet, arms, and legs. Most of the types of toys for babies this age are about encouraging such movement.
- Solitary play (3 months to about 18 months). Here, as babies become young toddlers, they are starting to interact and play with devices on their own. While most are not ready to play with others, they often will copy parents' interactions with toys. Just like with smiling. Play with a toy and then allow your young toddler to play with the same toy on their own.
- Spectator/Onlooker behavior (around 18 months to 24+ months). During this period, toddlers will be hesitant about playing with others, but they will start being more observant of other child play. Toddlers this age will often ask about new types of play and this is when parents can really start to introduce more creative play for toddlers. Wooden peg puzzles and other toy sets that include multiple pieces that must fit or work together with others are great for this stage.
- Parallel Play (two to three years of age). This play development stage will happen concurrently with the next type of play, but is labeled such as to emphasize its unique type of development. Here, children will start playing next to other children and start copying each other.
- Associative Play (also two to three years of age). Here, children start becoming more interested in playing with other children than with toys. They'll begin trading toys and creating creative games without adult rules. This more cooperative play stage is a great time to start introducing dress-up play, as it allows for more free-form games in which the children cooperate and create their own style of fun.
Get Your Child's First Costume for Creative Play at Teetot
Here at Teetot, we're proud to offer a wide array of costumes for toddlers and children. Visit our online store to learn more and get inspired for your child's next playdate.