I’ve just spent a delightful weekend celebrating our grandson, Will’s first birthday. Of course I took him on a joy ride through the toy store getting him a few new toys to launch him into his second year.

At a year, children are not only exploring but they are problem solving. It’s time to bump up the toys to the next level to stimulate language. It was fun to see Will enjoy his first “Little People” by Fisher Price. The barn is a favorite because at a year, children enjoy opening and closing the barn doors, hearing the corresponding animal noises and understanding cause-effect. The animals take lots of trips down the silo too. Later as they approach two and three years of age, they will increase their creative play with the animals and farm, rolling the pig in the mud, riding the horse or eating some hay as they imitate sequences from their experiences with books and everyday life. Good toys grow with your child and expand their play over months. Another early “Little People” set to start with is Noah’s Ark. One-year-olds like to put objects in and out of containers and now the animals can ride on top of the deck or open the door and enter below. The new cloth manes, tails and feathers really add to the sensory experience and provide you with new parts of the animals to describe for your child (fuzzy, soft, smooth etc.).

Since children this age enjoy hearing about animals and the sounds they make, another great toy to stimulate speech and language is LeapFrog’s Fridge Farm Magnetic Animal Set. Animal sounds are often some of the first words that children say because they are easy—usually a vowel and consonant like “baaa” or “neigh” and they are associated with something fun like a furry sheep or a galloping horse.

Great “going out to dinner” toys for this age are the Tolo people and props. They’re small and portable and perfect for play on a high chair tray. The little people twist and turn to walk and sit down, turn their heads and have a button to push on their tummies. It’s a great alternative to playing with the creamer containers or sugar packets.