Playtime 2017-04-26T11:25:57+00:00
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PLAYTIME

Children all develop at different rates and a healthy baby will grow and develop at her own rate. Enjoy this time and avoid comparing her with other babies or with ‘norms’ on developmental charts.

Your baby learns from every activity you do with her – talking to her, changing her nappy, bathing, feeding or walking with her. ‘Play’ for babies of this age is for learning and practising skills, as well as getting to know the world around them. Here are some simple things you can do:
  • Give your baby opportunities to see the world from the pram or by carrying your baby face forward, possibly in a baby carrier.
  • Talk, sing and coo to your baby while you do everyday activities with her.
  • Give your baby enough ‘space’ – too much attention all the time could hinder her ability to play and learn independently later on.
  • Let your baby take the lead – don’t try to get her interested in a different toy if she is fascinated by something else, and let her decide when it’s time to end the play session.
  • Encourage physical development activities when she is actively awake and more low-key activities during quiet wakefulness. Remember that babies have very short attention spans!
  • Show your baby books with simple pictures.
  • Move a rattle or bright toy across your baby’s line of vision to encourage tracking of moving objects.
  • Things that squeak or make an interesting noise are great early toys. Shake a rattle yourself or hold the rattle in your baby’s hand and help her shake it.
  • Hang a mobile above the cot (high enough for her not to touch it).
  • Remember that your own face, eyes, voice and touch are the most important source of learning and entertainment at this age.
Your baby is getting ready to take an active role in the learning process, so you can move onto activities that incorporate movement, kicking, reaching and grasping and chewing. Here are some ideas:
  • Soft toys and stuffed animals develop your baby’s ability to hold things and build social skills.
  • Real or toy telephones, baking objects, strainers, pots and empty boxes are a great source of entertainment, provided they are safe.
  • Balls of different sizes and textures are a favourite – your baby can hold and squeeze them and eventually roll them or crawl after them.
  • Play clap hands, patty-cake, peek-a-boo, incy wincy spider and similar games with your baby.
  • Play games that help your baby observe cause and effect, e.g. fill a cup with water in the bath and let your baby turn it over.
  • Stimulate your baby’s auditory perception by pointing to a plane overhead and telling him it is an aeroplane or by pointing to a police car or ambulance with sirens going and telling him it’s a police car or ambulance.
  • Encourage curiosity and creativity. Do not be discouraging if your baby wants to use a toy in an unusual way.
  • Activity centres are also a favourite and provide a great source of entertainment for baby and a welcome break for Mom.
At this age, babies need to touch and explore things so they can learn more about their surroundings and develop various skills.
  • Babies at this age love making a noise – shaking rattles, crumpling paper, squealing, laughing and copying noises they hear. Avoid over-using a dummy/pacifier as this can prevent him from practising the sounds needed for later speech development.
  • Let your baby handle and explore toys and household objects – that’s how they learn about concepts like warm, cold, rough, smooth, soft and hard.
  • Take your baby’s hands and show him how to clap, or take his hands in yours and touch the parts of your face, naming each feature as you move along.
  • Look at simple books and spend time talking with him about the pictures.
  • Talking to your baby and responding to his attempts to communicate will encourage his language skills.
Your baby is learning rapidly and is mastering his gross and fine motor skills. Give your toddler a chance to explore her world and learn about it, and promote her all-round development by offering:
  • A safe space to walk in, both indoors and outside.
  • A safe space for supervised climbing.
  • Encouragement to get active – get down and crawl yourself, challenge your child to crawl or run after you, put toys and favourite objects out of reach and so on. Give some gentle moral support to a fearful or nervous child.
  • A stimulating, varied environment to prevent boredom.
  • Push and pull toys to encourage or practise crawling and walking.
  • Creative materials such as crayons.
  • Things to put toys into and take toys out of.
  • Shape sorters.
  • Bath toys for water play.
  • Books, magazines and anything with pictures.
  • Materials for ‘pretend’ play such as toy kitchen equipment, trucks and cars, hats, adult shoes – anything that stimulates the imagination.
  • Age-appropriate TV shows in ten-minute bursts (not more). Avoid using the TV as a babysitter.