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 three to six month old baby playing happily, this list will help you choose toys that work well and have purposeful value:
- Rolling and moving – While your baby is on his play mat, set up a mobile near his feet or buy a ‘kick and play’ activity center. Kicking while lying on his back helps your baby to develop strong tummy muscles for rolling and crawling.
- Reach, grabbing and releasing – This is the stage when your baby starts to use hands intentionally – a play gym that your little one can lie under to reach for interesting items is a great way to stimulate eye-hand coordination.
- Sitting balance – Aside from propping your baby amongst cushions, a fun game to develop sitting muscles whilst eliciting squeals of delight is to get an empty box that your baby can fit in and pull him around on a tiled floor, while he tries to balance supported on all sides by the box.
- Clapping – Put your baby on your lap and play ‘Pat-a-cake’ – not only will this fun activity enhance sitting balance but it will also prepare your little one for the task of clapping.
- Movement stimulation – The sense of moving through the air is not only loads of fun, but is vital for stimulating the sense of movement and muscle tone. Play airplanes – whizzing him through the air. Always play within his comfort levels and go slowly at first.
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.