Playing/ interacting with your baby/toddler-aged child is one of the most essential things required from you as a parent to allow for proper brain, motor skill, auditory, emotional an visual development. It’s important to know not only what to play with your child, but when is the right time to introduce those various play, what games/toys are age appropriate, and how they will help your child grow and learn.
I’ve made sure to add some of the games I love to play with babies and toddlers.
For babies, keep them stimulated in small spurts by showing them objects,getting them to touch and feel, black and white at first as that’s what they see sharply an then color, enhance their senses with sight an sound . Show them pictures, read to them… bring it all together, Clapping, hand movement, handing them different safe items for grasping hand and eye co-ordination. And who could forget about Peek-a-boo for when they are a little older around 8-9 months when they are learning that we are around even if they cant see us for a moment but can hear us! These activities whether they are in the morning or afternoon do well with babies who are in that first year stage.
For toddlers, it is important to continue helping them develop their auditory, visual and motor/fine motor skills through play. Showing and telling by asking them, “where is your nose?” Or “which block is the red one?” helps stimulate all areas of the brain. Mr. Potato Head is another fun activity to introduce at this age as he has animated facial parts but remember to always be with your child playing for one it is safer with supervision with small parts and larger parts and also a child’s learning ability and process will happen much faster and only through that interactive play.
Auditory games are easy to do with toddlers. Common household objects could be turned into noisemakers by a simple jingle of car keys, a can filled with rice or beans, or running water. Have your toddler close their eyes and see if they can identify these sounds. When you’re outside, see how many sounds they can identify around them, “I hear a lawnmower,” “A barking dog,” “A car horn.” Music and toddler-aged songs are great as well.
Visual games like puzzles and shapes, and even large wooden blocks and drawing/painting are great for creative play. Read and show them simple books like Pat the Bunny, or others that require interaction for language and speech development. did you know reading to your child will develop their knowledge of new words over 3 years from 12 million to 50 million words?
Introduce games like “I Spy” and, as they get older, “Memory,” (where they have to flip over and match the same pictures). Don’t just put a puzzle, game or activity in front of them, they NEED YOU remember they need to learn how to do it and how to engage with it, so make sure you are there, playing right along side of them or in front. Your child will take all of the cues from you.Keeping them engaged longer every time develops their attention span, love for their early learning games and make them smarter!
Remember to be mindful of the variety of activities. If you notice your child is becoming bored or finishes up with something quickly, it’s likely the activity has now been mastered and you should move on to more challenging ones. Conversely, if they haven’t yet gotten the hang of a game or puzzle and simply abandon it out of frustration, it might be too hard. But give it time and don’t push them. Every child develops at their own pace. Be there for that gentle push and encouragement.
By around age three-four, they will play more interactively with other children and participate more as they get to the age of reason. This is also when games that involve more mind strategy come into play. You read to them and teach them general knowledge bout animals, the planet, plants, nature. By age five, you might teach them about nature, like gardening and start to incorporate more than just play, but activities as well. Games like Snakes and Ladders, Jenga, and Hungry Hippos are a lot of fun for children at this age. Also games that involve language and more reading.
This is also when you can introduce them to playing or doing an activity on their own. Get them started off, but then leave them, after a while, to play on their own.
I asked parents and caretakers on Twitter what their favourite activities to play with their child are. Here’s what I got back:
“Puppets, blocks, and play-doh are family favourites.”
“Coloring, puzzles, outdoor stuff (walks, playgrounds, etc).”
“Duplo, activity set-type toys.”
“My iPad. It has some great apps for my four year old. We use it for car trips.”
“My little guy loves to be wrestled with, tickled, and chased. Especially chased!”
What kinds of games and activities do you like to play with your kids?
x have fun!! Jo xx
Copywritten by Jo Frost