Play time and your baby. Why it's so important.
The first year of your baby's life is a very important one for their cognitive development. An infant's brain doubles in size between birth and age 1, and at least some of the billions of neural connections that form in that time, happen through play time and exploration of the world around them.
The benefits of playtime for a baby:
Fostering curiosity- Everything is new around them. Each sound, sight, smell, or touch
is a new piece of a giant puzzle they're putting together. Creating a supervised safe
space for an opportunity to experiment with different objects such as blocks, balls, and stuffed animals is a great way to nurture kids natural curiosity, and encourages creative and critical thinking.
Helping with speech and language- It may be a few years before your little one is able to speak in full sentences. But language learning actually starts before their first birthday! Playtime is a good way to develop playful "baby talk" which helps teach important communication skills.
Building motor skills- In their first year alone, babies go from not being able to hold up their own heads, rolling over, crawling and starting to stand and take their first steps. Object play with toys, rattles, and stuffed animals for example, help build hand-eye coordination. Interactive songs like "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" or " Patty Cake" can help with body awareness and dexterity.
An important ingredient in play is not just the toys, but you! Your baby loves your attention,
and playing is how they bond with you! Here's a few tips for play and what they'll learn from
Newborn to 8 months-
Use things like a brightly colored floor mat with hanging detachable toys that make sound or play
music. Their motor skills get a fine tune-up when they kick, bat, reach and grab for toys. Also,
putting baby down on their tummy, gives them the opportunity to develop upper-body and neck strength, which are prerequisites for rolling, crawling and other physical feats.
8 months to 12 months-
Nesting blocks and cups, and stacking toys will help keep little hands busy, while helping tune their grasping and releasing finger skills. Try hiding a toy inside another nesting toy to see if they can find it. It adds the element of surprise and builds on the concept of object permanence. At this age they may be more interested in knocking down towers, rather than building them, to encourage building, show interest by commenting on what a big tower they're making or help them with balance!
Playing with your baby may seem like all fun and games- shaking rattles, squeaking stuffed animals,
rolling balls around, but make no mistake. What looks like downtime is a lot of work for little ones.
Toys are often tools for getting the job done. Playtime also helps strengthen your bond, it's an effective way to connect with baby. Babies learn best when engaged in interactions with their
parents, and remember parents are babies first and favorite toy!
Click here for the best baby toys of 2019!
Posts written by the Team ELM family!