The more variety your baby can experience in their playtime, the more their senses will be stimulated and the more their brains will develop. Variety is important for creating and maintaining neural pathways that will help your baby’s learning and development. Toys, environments and experiences that are new and stimulating help your baby build context and understanding of how the world works and how they can interact with it.
Use household objects
You don’t need expensive toys to engage your baby’s play. Oranges, half-filled soft-drink bottles, plastic cups – there are many common household objects that your baby will be keen to explore. Pick durable items that aren’t small but aren’t big, and ensure that they are clean, safe and don’t have any parts that your child could swallow or choke on.
Read books and sing songs
Your baby learns language by listening to you talk. Connecting objects and colours with your speech will help your baby’s brain to develop and enhance their understanding of language. Your baby can clap along and wriggle and, with music to accompany, you might see your baby start to dance along too (even if they can only sit!).
Although babies should always be placed on their backs to sleep, tummy time can be incorporated into playtime to help your baby’s development. It also helps to prevent flat spots on the back of your baby’s head.
You can start to place your baby on their tummy soon after birth for a few minutes a day, building up to several times a day for 15 minutes at a time over the next few months. With their head to the side and weight on their forearms, your baby uses this time to build strength in their neck, back and arms; it is an important precursor to crawling.
Make sure to always supervise your baby during tummy time and watch out for signs they are getting tired. While you can provide toys for older, stronger babies, once they start getting mobile and looking likely to crawl, it’s time to start baby proofing the house!
Play helps you to bond
Playtime is fun time. When your baby shares positive new experiences with you, they associate your involvement with a feeling of joy, security and satisfaction. Filling these hours with learning, discovery and laughter will only further strengthen the unique bond that you share.