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Your toddler now
How socializing happens
Whether your child's a social butterfly or more reserved, you can help him develop social skills with these fun activities:
Hide-and-seek: Chasing you and hiding from you may be some of your 13-month-old's favorite activities. Hiding behind a chair, a book, or even a dish towel, giggling endlessly as you pretend you can't find him, could be the best game on earth. Or you might be the one who hides.
Fetch: Throwing stuff out of his crib or play yard and watching you retrieve and return it is great fun for a 13-month-old – if you agree to participate. He may also enjoy handing you toys, books, and other objects, expecting you to hand them back. This kind of give, take, and give again is actually a social game, a way of interacting with you and learning how to interact with others.
"Watch me, Mom": Your child may love an audience and repeat any "performance" that elicits a positive response, especially applause. Take care to reinforce behaviors you want to encourage, not negative ones like throwing food.
Mirror me: Have your toddler sit across from you. (This is a great game for the highchair.) Do something simple but eye-catching, like waving, clapping your hands, reaching up high, flapping your arms, or covering your face. Applaud and cheer for him if he does the same thing, but don't worry if he just laughs.
My 13-month-old's toy kitchen is the best investment we've made. She bangs the pots and pans together, nests the measuring cups, "eats" with the plastic utensils, and even "washes" dishes in the sink. It gets more use than all her other toys combined.
Play it safe
Which is better – teaching a young child not to touch breakable or dangerous objects or putting them out of reach? It's really up to you, but keep in mind that kids this age can't yet understand concepts like fragility or danger. For now, putting away breakables and anything else you don't want your child to get into will make your life easier.
Also, now that your child's more mobile, it's a good idea to review all your childproofing measures. Do you need to install more cabinet locks or cover sharp table corners? Crawlers and climbers can get into unlikely places. Safety gates are useful, especially at the tops and bottoms of stairs to keep young adventurers from taking a dangerous tumble.
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