Development through Play: Babies
Helping your Baby Develop through Play
Your baby will develop so quickly in the first few months, and playing with them can be hugely beneficial to engage them and help to strengthen the relationship between you, as well as build the early foundations for later skills.
Birth to Six Months
Babies start learning and absorbing information immediately when they are born; playing with your baby can help excite their senses and support their brain growth.
Your baby’s muscles will be very loose to begin with but will develop rapidly. Giving them something interesting to look at and listen to – bright colours, high contrasts, mirrors, movement and sound - encourages them to lift their head therefore strengthening their neck muscles. This kind of play can also support creativity and develop focus and attention.
Playing music or singing to your baby can help them being to learn language , as the rhythm is similar to that of our own speech. It can support listening skills and help children relax too.
‘Tummy time’ is important for little ones to begin developing their core muscles and can encourage your baby to start rolling over or crawling. To entertain your little one during tummy time, you can put toys within arm’s reach for them to play with.
As your baby reaches around six months they will start reaching for objects and exploring them with their hands and mouths. Baby toys give them a safe sensory experience brightly coloured or noisy toys are all the more interesting for them.
Interested in learning about your baby's progression into a toddler and how to support their development through play?
Take a look at the second article in our series of 'Development through Play'.
Six -12 Months
As your little one gets on the move and starts to become more curious, they will start to explore their surroundings. Once they can sit up, they are able to see further and can use their hands to play with toys a lot more easily.
You can encourage your baby’s crawling with wheeled toys or balls, helping to strengthen gross motor skills. Try putting toys your baby wants just out of reach to encourage crawling as well. Although beware, this can prove to be frustrating for them at times, so be ready for some shouting!
Your baby will enjoy experimenting with their world – they will love to knock over a tower of blocks or continuously drop a toy to see if you will come and pick it up for them yet again! Toys with buttons to press and things to pull are great fun for this age group and help them to start learning about cause and effect.
They will also begin to understand that they can create things themselves by manipulating materials, for example squelching mashed potato or making hand prints with paint. This is also great for sensory stimulation. Your little one may enjoy drawing or mark-making too, using chunky crayons or finger paints, which is one of the first steps in them learning to write.
Although your baby will be growing more confident, they might still get anxious when out of their comfort zone. Cuddly toys can provide emotional support and encourage self-soothing.
This post was written by Anna Taylor