Play is the occupation of children – a child’s work. A baby’s main tasks in the first three years are to master the world through movement, to develop a great self esteem, to learn language and other cognitive skills and to feel mastery and a sense of accomplishment. To achieve these goals a baby works very hard and he does this work through play.

Play can entail toys and books or may simply involve interactions with others. You are your baby’s favourite toy and you will quickly notice that you get more squeals of delight and joy when you are playing with your baby than when he is left to play with a toy alone. When your baby experiences enjoyment, his neurons fire in a way that stimulates way more brain development and growth.

So before you rush out and buy expensive toys bear in mind that you are really all your baby needs. Having said that, if you are looking for ideas to keep your baby playing happily that also have purposeful value, this list will help you choose toys that work well between six months and one year of age:

  • Engaging the desire to move – From the sitting position, its time to start inspiring your little one to move into the crawling position. Place fun, bright toys just out of his reach to encourage him to move.
  • Manipulating toys – Small toys such as blocks and balls that can be grasped in one hand are great for this stage. They will eventually be transferred between hands, which develops bilateral hand use. Sit with your little one and give him a block in one hand – then give him a block in the other hand. Then offer a third one so that he has to decide which one to let go of.
  • Develop object permanence – Games that involve hiding objects will be great fun at this stage. Take a favourite toy or his dummy and hide it under a cloth (while he watches) then ask your little one where it is gone. During this stage he will learn where to look and slowly develop object permanence (the awareness that an object still exists when you can’t see it).
  • Language burst – During this stage, your baby’s understanding of language will blossom – he will soon understand much of what you say. Play games using words, such as “Where is the bird?” Then point to a bird. This game teaches non-verbal communication such as pointing as well as the label of an item (bird).

Most of all have fun with your little one. Play, laugh and engage – whatever the game, it will enhance your baby’s learning and development.