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What all should be taught to a one year old?

Q: What all should I teach my one year old baby girl as I am a working mother. Just 2 days back, she started walking. She does some talking too. What are the best toys we can buy her and what all should we talk to her? What is she supposed to be taught at this age?

A:Its great that your one year old has begun to walk and talk! She should be allowed to play with a variety of suitable toys. The focus should be on its being safe and on its potential to be used by the child freely and easily. The child's senses are ready to receive information. So things which are bright, with a pleasant sound and soft to the touch will offer many opportunities for the child to learn about the world around. One could have blocks of different colours that the child can stack. Even breaking up a small tower that she has built can be fun. It is best to be guided by the child's own interests. Sometimes a small cup or katori, a spoon and some water can be a marvellous plaything from the child's point of view. There is no need for expensive toys, which are put away in cupboards, out of reach of children. You must get her some picture books and point out the pictures or read from them. Many things are learnt when the child watches you, like the fact that books are read from left to right (unless its Urdu) and top to bottom. Children also learn to identify pictures of real life objects. A nice soft ball can provide endless delight, but she will want you as playmate. Play some rhymes and other music in her hearing. She will dance to some of it and get familiar with good sounds. Vegetarian food in India has so much variety that it is no problem to plan interesting and nutritious meals for her. Make sure that the food is not spicy. Although one is generally advised to serve the food cooked for everyone at home, I think it is necessary to consciously keep the child's food, low on salt and masalas. Otherwise, what is cooked at home is fun. Even if the child has had her food, let her sit with you when you are eating and nibble at things. Children have their own likes and dislikes and there is no harm in indulging them. What should be avoided will include cola drinks and other soft drinks, and ready-made noodles, etc. Preservatives will have been used in them and they can never equal freshly cooked food at home. Cakes and cookies are fine, in moderation, as are chocolates. A child of one should have something to eat every 3-4 hours. Small meals and tasty snacks and milk or sometimes a nourishing drink like coconut water, if its available. Food should be palatable and interesting for the child. Talk to her while you are giving her a bath or feeding her. Her language development will depend on what she hears spoken in the family. Sing to her and play little games that she enjoys. Your enthusiasm will be catching and her feeling of self esteem will be a result of being loved and cherished. Enjoy the experience of parenting!

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