Let your baby decide when to be together with you and when to be on her own You’ve bought your baby a new toy and you decide to free up some quality time to spend with her; but will you know how to create a pleasant and supportive play environment? Will you know how to interest and stimulate your baby’s curiosity? You can start by listening to your intuition and becoming familiar with your baby’s developmental stages, so you can adapt your play to her changing needs, and create the appropriate play environment for her age and development. Following are some basics to aid you in gaining maximum enjoyment from your play time together.
After several months, your baby will learn to control and direct her movements and she will become more active in her games with you. At about five months, you will notice that she is not satisfied with just looking at your face and hearing your voice. She is now more curious and wants to examine you using all her senses. A game involving sounds and different noises, played by the two of you, will allow your baby to experience cooperation and interrelationships and to learn her body’s boundaries. They also help her to begin developing her own identity as an individual, separate from you.
During the final months of her first year, and afterwards, you continue having a significant role in your baby’s play. This role will sometimes be less active -- the role of companion, advisor, and supporter: a secure base for your child, from which she can go out and explore while returning from time to time for encouragement and comfort when she fails or is afraid. During this period it is important to allow your baby to act and experiment on her own, and not for you to solve all problems for her. Help her, when necessary, to create a safe environment for her, and of course, watch her closely to prevent her from hurting herself or having accidents.
Toys are Not “just toys”, but baby’s learning aids. During the first few months, when your newborn is still totally dependent on you, and cannot yet control her movements, it is important to provide your baby with stimuli that are appropriate for her age and stage. Take a look at our 7 Element System to find out which toys are appropriate for which age and what sort of skills they develop in baby.
Show the toy to your baby: Hang it above him, placing it in front of him when he is lying on his stomach, or put it next to him. Allow him to spend time exploring and examining the toy in his own way, at his own pace: Sometimes, he will stare at the toy for a long while before trying to touch it or play with it. Don’t overwhelm him with stimuli: Give him one toy at a time and try to remove unnecessary stimuli from the area. When he loses interest in that toy, you can give him another one. Try to draw his attention to the toy: Pass it in front of his eyes and place it in his hand. Allow him to explore the toy in his own special way. Let your baby choose and decide what to do with the toy. One toy, many uses: Over and above the specific task of a specific toy, it still has infinite, creative uses for your baby to try. Remember that each action or experience has developmental value. Don’t try to constantly direct baby towards specific actions that interest you, he will get the message, directly or indirectly, that what he is doing is wrong and will develop feelings of failure.
After the age of six months your baby becomes a relentless explorer. He is not satisfied with only watching. He investigates every toy in every possible way. He grabs it with his hand, puts it in his mouth, he sucks and “chews” it and then feels it with his fingers. He rubs it, squashes it and squeezes it and throws it on the floor. It is very important to allow your baby to play this way with toys and with other household objects that are safe and suitable for this kind of exploration. Note: Some parents try to stop their baby from putting things into his mouth. By doing this they prevent their baby from using one of his most important investigative tools for exploring the world available to him. So, don’t prevent your baby from putting things into his mouth. Just make sure that the objects within his reach are not hazardous.
At this stage it is possible to offer your baby more than one toy at a time, but it’s also important not to overwhelm him with stimuli. Make an effort to get to know your baby well and to broaden his experiences or to notice the stimuli that he spontaneously turns to. Express his experience in words. Describe what he is doing, expand on what he is doing and try to associate it with other experiences that he is already familiar with.
Any advice and information provided in this website is given as suggestions only and should not be taken as a professional medical diagnosis or opinion. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent.