10 ways to encourage your baby to play longer with toys

By Dr Richard C. Woolfson   — January 17, 2019
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    When play becomes predictable, your child can get distracted and eventually lose interest. Here are 10 ways to better engage his attention.

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  • Choose age-appropriate and interesting toys
    2 / 11 Choose age-appropriate and interesting toys

    Your toddler’s attention span is short. To prolong his interest, it must grab his attention and be suitable for his age.

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  • Wait before offering another one
    3 / 11 Wait before offering another one

    Resist the temptation to charge in with a new item when you see that he’s growing bored. Use the opportunity to teach him persistence. Besides, he might become interested in the toy again.

    Related: Why doctors now say you should feed babies peanuts and other allergenic foods 

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  • Give him the occasional challenging toy
    4 / 11 Give him the occasional challenging toy

    Your one-year-old prefers familiar ones that he knows well, but one that is sufficiently advanced can help stretch his capabilities.

    Related: 7 things you should know about fever in babies

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  • Teach him to explore
    5 / 11 Teach him to explore

    When you observe that Junior has lost all interest, sit beside him and show him how to look at it in new ways. For example, turn the object over in his hands and point out to him the parts he hasn’t looked at.

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  • Reduce the distraction
    6 / 11 Reduce the distraction

    Ironically, the more sources of stimulation surrounding your toddler, the less likely he is to concentrate on any one in particular for long. This can make him bored.

    Related: Is it safe to use mobile phones around babies?

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  • Stay with him
    7 / 11 Stay with him

    Research shows that a young child remains interested in a toy for longer when one of his parents sits beside him. You don’t need to chat or even play with him. Your presence is enough to help hold his attention.

    Related: Baby’s first swim: what you should know 

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  • Keep them accessible
    8 / 11 Keep them accessible

    Boredom increases when your one-year-old can’t reach his toys, perhaps because they are all piled up in a cupboard. Ensure that they are neatly arranged, organised and easily accessible. That way, he doesn’t need to rely on you – when he’s bored, he reaches for whatever he wants.

    Related: How to get your toddler to sleep in her own room 

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  • Learn what he’s curious about
    9 / 11 Learn what he’s curious about

    When you notice your tot playing with a toy for longer than usual, try to identify what it is that engages him so much – for instance, maybe he loves dinosaurs or anything to do with trains. This will help you choose other similar products for him.

    Related: Baby prefers maid: 8 things working mums should do 

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  • Let him pick the next one
    10 / 11 Let him pick the next one

    Your child is more likely to play for longer if he chose it himself. It does not necessarily always work out that way – he might have bought it because he liked the packaging – but getting him involved is worth a try.

    Related: 6 ways to help your toddler get over her fear of costumed characters 

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  • Arrange different play experiences
    11 / 11 Arrange different play experiences

    He will grow weary of every activity eventually, so try to offer him a variety. That allows you to move him to another when you observe that boredom has definitely set in.

    Related: Baby bonus banks: which one is better?

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

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