According to the Creative Curriculum (used by many daycares), when children engage in play, they can:
- Learn about themselves and others – trust, love, touch, affection, give and take, recognizing the needs of others and empathy
- Learn about moving – Fine motor (small muscles), gross motor (large muscles), eye-hand coordination, grasp and carry toys, build, push and pull toys
- Learn about the world – rattles, push buttons to play music on a toy, shape sorters, manipulatives that help children to group and explore and learn cause and effect
- Learn about communicating – Connecting words with appropriate objects, expressing ideas
It’s all in the timing:
When you're socializing with your baby, be sensitive to any signs that she's had enough interaction: Too much stimulation can overload a baby's neural circuits, leaving her crying or unsettled. It's essentially your baby's way of saying, "I've had all I can take right now."
Here are some signs that playtime is over and she needs a break: Closing eyes - Turning away - Tensing up - Arching her back - Avoiding your gaze - Irritability
A Baby’s schedule and personality changes as they grow, adapting is part of the journey of parenting!
Stimulate the senses:
See, Hear, Taste, Touch, Smell
You are your child’s favorite toy!
Children love and direct attention to:
Faces; your face is a very stimulating tool
Clean lines or brightly colored objects; (black, white and red/primary colors for very young infants) White on Black, a book by Tana Hoban
Talk; (play with pitch but use real words, tell them everything you are about to do and are doing, use your baby’s name)
Song; (traditional, make up songs, change the words, rock out!),
Sounds; (make games up call and response from their cooing, cheek to cheek matching pitch)
Movement; dance (bounce, swing, stop and start)
Mobiles: Can promote development of vision and hearing. Look for patterns, circles, high contrast and those that make music. By 4 months children might be able to reach for the mobile.
Mirrors: Children love watching their image appear and disappear in the mirror. Portable toy mirrors that are unbreakable can be placed in numerous locations around your home or can travel with you.
Hand Puppets or soft toys can facilitate language and make for great storytelling opportunities. Look for: Bright colors, boldly contrasting patterns, positive expressions or recognizable faces and sounds.
Grasping and Mouthing: Toys: 3 months +, give babies opportunities to grasp, shake, mouth, drop, and explore objects that they can hold in their fists. Small rattles, teethers, plastic key rings with keys, grasping balls and cloth toys and books.
Books: Read daily; build rituals around certain books (wake up time, naptime, bedtime). Look for board or fabric books, repetitive language, point to pictures, read only one or two words on a page- no need to stay true to the story if baby’s attention span runs out.
Examples of household objects that make great toys:
An empty box, pots and pans, plastic food containers, plastic measuring spoons, tissue paper, hard plastic cups.
- Infants will follow a slowly moving object from side to side with their eyes – use a toy or twinkle your fingers back and forth, up and down while you sing a song
- Talk and sing while looking at your baby, slightly exaggerate your mouth
- Where is…? - Lightly cover your baby’s face with a cloth, ask: Where is (baby’s name)? After you uncover say, “There he/she is!) Book connection, Where is Baby’s Belly Button? (By Karen Katz)
- Use simple hand instruments or tissue paper while your singing and walk around the room. Let baby turn in the direction that the instrument is coming from.
- Roll your baby from side to side, touch legs to alternating arms, do the bicycle, row, row, row your boat, do infant massage with a mild edible oil - sing songs and talk while you do this.
- Hold baby in “superhero” position gently move from side to side (helps develop trunk muscles and head control) sing or play the “Superman” theme.
- Roll your (4 month old or older) on a “roll” pillow, a large kickball or a small exercise ball. Baby should lie on tummy and gently roll back and forth. With a smaller ball baby can reach down and practice developing shoulder and arm strength.
- Sing: "We’re gonna walk and walk, walk and walk we’re gonna walk and walk and stop!" 2X We’re gonna bounce, twist, etc.
- Sensory experiences: swaddle, use sensory balls and roll them on your babies hands, back and feet or use a massaging action teether or any other age appropriate product from www.beyondplay.com.