Play... It's how babies learn best!
Babies are wonderfully curious by nature, but many parents struggle to find new and fun things to do with their baby and if for you the struggle is real... You’re one of us, you are not alone.
Research tells us play is how babies learn best.
We can even think of it as their 'job' (though they're probably having way more fun at their job than we ever have at ours!). Play helps babies explore the world and teaches them who they are. It also allows babies to practice the skills they need for the future.
Playing with your baby helps them to:
- Bond with you
- Build confidence
- Feel loved, safe and happy
- Develop their physical & social skills
- And teaches them to care for others & the environment
But how do we make play inspiring and beneficial for both us and our little ones?
At Happy Little People, we have been working on answering this question in fun and practical ways and here is what we have found.
- Play should be engaging for your baby and easy for you!
- Repetition and variety are equally important: your baby needs both.
So how do you do it?
- Provide your baby with a wide variety of safe, natural materials to discover, such as wood, metal and textiles, such as cotton, silk and wool. Also incorporate real objects from around the home. A bit of plastic in the mix is fine too—after all, your baby is learning about materials that exist in the real world! However, keep in mind that natural materials have a more interesting variety of weights, textures, temperatures and smells to intrigue their little hands & minds.
- 'Real' or Heuristic Play does not require ANY expensive or elaborate toys—in fact these can actually hinder creativity. Babies and children are usually most drawn to everyday, open-ended objects, because they can manipulate them in their own way which is why they will often prefer the box the toy came in to the toy itself!
- Allow your baby to have LOTS of open-ended play. Sit nearby and be attentive and unobtrusive. Of course, talking to them and asking them open-ended questions is really important, but it's equally important to give them a bit of space and quiet during independent play time!
- Play can happen anywhere, anytime, but we recommend setting up one or more simple, dedicated play spaces in the parts of your home where you spend the most time. Neatly display a small selection of toys and activities (6-8 is a good amount) that your baby can see and reach on a low, multi-level shelf and store extra toys and objects out of view and rotate them regularly.
- Mix up different kinds of play, to stimulate a wide-range of development: Some of these ways include: Toys and Object Play, Sensory Play, Physical/Interactive Play and Outdoor Play
Finally, your baby will teach you many games of their own, so look out for their cues! They may communicate their pleasure by cooing, smiling, or giggling, or they may be really focused on repeating a particular action (such as throwing their spoon from the highchair to see you pick it up AGAIN!). Repeat these special games time and time again. These personal interactions, completely unique to your and your baby, will most likely be their favourite games of all!
If you are after age appropriate and development promoting educational toys for babies under 12 months, check out our Play Club. Intentional Play prompts for every stage, delivered to your door- right when you need them.
What are you waiting for... Go Play!