It has often been said that play is the work of childhood, and for good reason: each time Baby plays, they are also learning, and that’s their most important job!
At this stage, Baby is likely able to keep themself entertained on their own for short periods of time, but it can be helpful for you to step in as their playmate sometimes to build on the experience.
As they play, Baby is working on all sorts of skills, and playing with them will only aid their development. Here are some fun ways to play with Baby that will also help them grow.
- Create art: Setting up a mini studio at home is a great way to help Baby express their creative side. Work with them and teach them about creating different shapes, mixing colors – you can even show them how to draw their favorite animal (amazing artistic ability not required)! Though an unstructured finger painting session is also a great time, having your help will teach them things they wouldn’t learn solo.
- Play make-believe: Help fire up Baby’s imagination with a pretend situation. While at home, for example, pretend you’re camping and the blankets are a tent. Ask them what they think you should use to cook your dinner, as a sleeping bag, etc. with objects they can find around the house. Prompting them to do this will force them to think figuratively and imaginatively, and will let you better understand how their mind works.
- Get exploring: Going on a nature walk is a fun way to play with Baby in a different environment. Let them explore different textures in the leaves, and help build their vocabulary by labeling items you find along the way. Having you with them will help them feel safe in a new situation, which will, in turn, boost their confidence about experiencing new things.
- Be active: There are few things more fun for Baby than running, jumping, and letting loose. Join in and encourage them to reach new heights. This will allow them to develop gross motor skills in a secure way as they are under your supervision.
- Build towers: Toddlers love making things big, big, big! Help them stack blocks to make a giant tower, and let them knock it down when you’re done. Grabbing the pieces works their fine motor skills, and watching a tower crash teaches cause and effect.
Adults may not associate playing with learning, but each time Baby plays, they are developing a new set of skills. With you as their playmate, there’s no stopping their imagination. The more you play with Baby, the more you’ll learn, too – all about your best little friend!