Playing enhances a baby’s perception about himself and the world he lives in. It develops his social skills, language skills, critical thinking and creativity. There are many ways that babies can learn while playing. He can learn from stuffed animals, interactive books, and toys. Think of ways to make daily activities fun and creative. This helps your baby enhance his imagination. When it comes to finding interesting ways to encourage your baby explore the world through play, here’s exactly what you need to know.
Playing comes naturally to babies. This is their method of exploring the world. Adults may view it as “playing around” but the fact is that these are opportunities for your baby to learn many new skills as they begin to learn to talk. Playing is, actually, the best time to learn.
You might wonder if a baby putting a toy in his mouth or swatting his mobile repeatedly constitutes as learning. Yes, it is in fact teaching your baby to coordinate his hands and his eyes when he tries to reach for it. He discovers that he can make movement happen. He gets to practice his skills in language, listening, and learning as he develops.
Play is Part of Everything
Try to picture life from your baby’s perspective. Everything is interesting and exciting because they are new. Remember that you are your baby’s tour guide, interpreter, and now you can be his play partner. You will have many things to converse about!
You can turn something as regular as eating into play. Pretend like the food is the train and his mouth is the tunnel that it has to go into. When you play games like this you are teaching your kids about transportation and the different sounds they make.
You and your baby can also enjoy games about communication. Try “Peek-a-boo” and “Pat-a-Cake” and other games that require you to face each other. You can teach your signing baby the signs that are related to these games so he can tell you when he would like to play them. These games can also teach your infant or toddler about meaningful sounds and listening. For example, calling his name during Peek-A-Boo will alert him to its sound and will teach him to look when it is called out. Remember to try and mix up the different signs with a range of practical and motivational signs for your baby.
Bath-time is also playtime. Your baby can start playing with floating toys and cups and bottles that he could fill up and empty. There are so many things that your baby can learn by playing with water. He can learn cause and effect. The water splashes if you pour it out of the container. You can also teach him about volume. You can show her that a full bottle is heavier than an empty one. You can sign about the toys like the rubber ducky, and about the feel of the water.
Cuddling is also considered as play. This loving activity is just as important as any other. You can sing to your baby and the vibration he feels will teach him more about sound. Your baby feels safe in your arms and loves the feeling of being touched. Professionals say that massages are a great thing to do with your baby especially during the first three months of his life. The skin-to-skin contact soothes and the touch relaxes your baby.
Riding activities such as bouncing on daddy’s knee, riding piggy back on mommy’s shoulders, using as stroller, or riding on a shopping cart are ways for your baby to see new parts of his environment. Use sounds and music to accompany your movement games so your baby will get chances to develop his listening skills while playing.
Your baby can still get to play even when you are busy with other tasks. He can watch you doing chores and maybe even help. He will soon develop from someone who watches to someone who takes an active part. When he gets old enough, he can start sweeping the floor with his own tiny broom and stack toilet paper in the cupboard. Teach your baby how to sign adjectives such as “dirty floor” and “clean clothes”. Make sure to talk or sign about what you are doing so your baby will begin to learn the baby sign language for these.
Once babies can move on their own, they start discovering anything they can reach. This gives you the chance to be your baby’s play partner but also gives you the responsibility to limit what your baby does. The idea of him giving up what he is doing will be unpleasant so this would be a good time for you to learn the language of distraction. Direct your baby’s attention to a new game or object that will make him forget about the old thing.
Toys are Everywhere
Babies don’t usually play with other babies at an early age. They do, however, see older children playing with toys. Toys are anything that we can play with. These change depending on how old your baby is. He can play with mobiles and stuffed animals during his first year and would probably want to move on to more challenging things after this. He can play with safe objects in the house such as plastic lids and bottles. Water is also a great toy during bath time. Outdoor things such as leaves and rocks are also toys that your baby can play with. You can pick them up and bring them closer to him or simply point them out and converse about them. Those little things will help your baby be creative and let his imagination grow.
Learning through the Senses
Your baby uses most of his senses during play. He can feel the texture of his smooth blankets and fuzzy stuffed animals. He can see the bright colours on his mobile. He can hear the interesting melody of his favourite lullaby as you read to your baby. Communication happens during play because it is an exchange between you and your baby. He gets to tell you about the toys that he likes and your response can be seen with your facial expressions and when you sign to him that you are having fun.
Play gives him a chance to feel different emotions. Your baby will feel frustrated if he can’t reach the ball. He will feel relieved once you pick it up for him. Contentment comes when he is holding his favourite toy and curiosity happens when he would like to know where it is. You can sign about those feelings so your baby will have a label for them and a reason for why he is feeling that way.
Problem solving can also be learned through play. Round blocks won’t go into square holes and when your baby figures this out he will start trying a different hole. As he gets older he will figure out what shapes match and will start saying or signing the name of the shape he needs. When he can’t find his toy, your baby will start to look for it and think of different places where he could find it. Playing with other children, disagreeing, and eventually compromising also lets him practice his problem solving skills.
Creativity starts with play. Your baby will begin to have different uses for a toy and eventually will start playing pretend with them. He can stack his blocks and pretend to be an architect. He can play with toy vegetables and pretend to be a chef.
Experiences that come with play will give you and your baby exciting things to talk or sign about. It gives you more topics for your conversations. Most importantly, your baby learns the language of creativity and critical thinking.