Pediatric Physical, Speech, and Occupational Therapists Inspiring Play

10 Ways to Encourage Pretend Play

10 Ways to Encourage Pretend Play

What better type of play to celebrate in October than Pretend Play? Pretend play emerges in children typically between 18-24 months and continues to get more elaborate and complex as your child gets older and thinking becomes more abstract.

Here are some common ranges for pretend play development:


Pretend play is packed with benefits for your little one! Gently guide them at first by showing them the way, then step back, follow their lead, and see where their imagination takes them. Check out our knowledge nugget below:

We wanted to bring you some of our favorite ways to encourage pretend play, as well as some of our favorite products on the market!

1. A Baby Doll

A baby doll is a perfect pretend play starter toy for your child! They have been cared for by you their whole short life and when it’s their turn to take care of baby, they will likely amaze you by how they naturally know just what to do.

They can practice rocking, feeding, bathing, and putting baby to bed! Here are some of our favorite baby play products:

2. Toy Food and Play Kitchen

Food is fun! And it’s a part of our daily lives. This makes it super relatable and such an easy way for kids to jump into imaginative play!

Kiddos can take orders and slice, mix, cook, and serve up meals! Pretend play with food provides great opportunities for communication, turn taking, and sequencing. Here are some of our favorite products:

Practicing following recipes? Check out another favorite of ours: Acorn Soup!

3. Tool Kit

If your kiddo loves building, a tool kit is a great way to encourage pretend play! They can build things on a tool bench, join a parent in the garage, or roam the house “fixing” things! There are so many choices on the market. Here are a few of our faves:

4. Doctor’s Kit

Taking care of patients, whether they are family members, friends, toys, or animals, is always a hit! Plus, it’s great practice to prep for future checkups!

5. Costumes

Whether it’s super heros, princesses, or different occupations, kids transform when they put a costume on!

Make pretend play a part of every day with a dress up corner!

6. Dollhouse

We are such big fans of dollhouses! They are great for pretend play and make believe. So many opportunities for language and vocabulary building!

Our October 2020 All-Star Toy of the Month is the Little People Big Helpers Dollhouse by Fisher Price. Click the link to see why we love it as well as ideas for utilizing the doll house to work on fine and gross motor skills and speech and language.

We are HUGE fans of Fisher Price Little People products. Check them out here:

7. Play Animals and/or Dinos

Animals and Dinos, or any toys that your kiddo shows interest in, are great ways to foster creative pretend play. We are big advocates of play being child-led. You can start with basic ideas, like washing them or feeding them, and let your child take the lead and run with it!

8. Cleaning Supplies

Kids love to imitate their parents. Vacuums, brooms, mops, and lawn mowers are great ways to get your kiddos moving and playing!

9. Grocery Shopping

Set up a display of toy food and products and give your kiddo a bag or cart and let them get their shopping on. If you have toy money or loose parts, you can practice early math skills and charge them!

10. Get Creative!

You don’t need to have all the toys!! With pretend play, sometimes “less is more.” Get creative and use things you have lying around your house, like cardboard boxes, paper towel rolls, and couch cushions.

Perform activities recommended by Walk, Talk, Play at your own risk with appropriate adult supervision provided. Walk, Talk, Play is not responsible for any injury caused while performing these play activities. 

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