How to Nurture Learning with Play
● By Digital Media Director
By: Sanford Health
Play is how babies first learn about their surroundings, so it’s easy to keep it simple and promote development, even without fancy toys. Here are some playful ways to help your little one learn and grow.
Enjoy tummy time. This gives her a chance to see the world from a new perspective. Making tummy time into playtime will encourage your baby’s development. While she’s spending a few minutes (at first) in this position you can use soft toys that shake or make noise to get her attention, encouraging her to try to lift her head toward the sound. Get down on the floor and talk to her at her eye level. As her neck and arm muscles get stronger she will be able to hold herself up to look at more things.
Chat and sing. Use different inflections in your voice and watch how your baby reacts. Soon he will start to respond to you with cooing, gurgling and simple inflections. Mimicking those sounds back to your baby will encourage more interaction and bonding. Singing will help your baby develop language and rhythm skills. It can soothe your child as he is comforted by the sound of your voice. If there is a particular lullaby your baby is used to, that can be helpful to calm him during fussy times.
Make expressions. Your baby loves seeing your face. Experiment to see how many different reactions you can get from making different faces in front of her. Babies will instinctively try to copy emotions that are modeled for them – so a beaming smile should have your baby grinning back at you.
Play simple games. Games like peekaboo or simple interactions like splashing around in a shallow bath will teach your baby how to anticipate events. Stick out your tongue, puff out your cheeks or blow raspberries on her tummy. The unpredictability of your play will cause delight and your baby will start to understand the basics of cause and effect. Bonus: That cascade of giggles is the early development of a sense of humor.
Your baby doesn’t need a lot of fancy toys and gadgets to enjoy playtime. What your baby needs most is your time, your face, your voice and your loving touch – but some basic toys that can add to the fun for both of you include:
· Large rings
· Mobiles with contrasting colors
· Teething toys
· Soft dolls
· Stackable cups
· Textured balls
· Board or vinyl books
· Unbreakable mirrors
· Musical toys
Remember babies explore the world by putting things in their mouth. Do not give your baby anything that can fit through an empty toilet paper cardboard tube.
Enjoy playing and watching your baby as she grows. At this age, playing is about spending time together and learning about each other as your baby discovers the world around her.