Read on for helpful tips for enriching your baby's development through play.
Cuddling, kisses, pats, soothing words, singing, reading, smiles, silly faces and giggles — these are all essential to your baby’s emotional and mental well-being and development. While they can come from siblings, grandparents or caregivers, the best and most effective ‘source,’ of course, is mum and dad.
There are plenty of things you can do to help your baby develop their mental and emotional skills — and playing with her is one of them.
If you’re looking for ways to boost your little one’s development through play, here are a few suggestions:
Birth to 3 months
Babies this young thrive on touch and the sound of your voice. They will be stimulated in a positive way by your singing and by your recitation of nursery rhymes.
An infant’s attention span doesn’t really come into play yet, so reading storybooks with colorful illustrations that are not too detailed will be enjoyable for her too.
You can also try putting on some music, holding your baby close and ‘dancing’ with them. The gentle swaying will be comforting and the sound of the music will help them learn to distinguish sounds.
You can also help develop their muscles and flexibility by exercising their arms and legs with gentle pumping and bicycle movements.
4 to 8 months
Your baby can now sit up — with or without assistance — and can hold her head up. She will also be able to reach for things and hold onto things for limited periods of time.
Therefore, in addition to the activities you’ve already been doing with your baby, you can try the following:
Give them different textures to feel with their hands and against their face. Let them hold onto a silk scarf, a terrycloth washcloth, a leather coin purse, a velvet headband, etc.
Babies this age will also enjoy watching and possibly even trying to ‘catch’ bubbles. The new colorful ones will make the experience even more delightful.
Peek-a-boo, ‘this little piggy’ and tickle games are favorites of babies this age, as are colorful board books that are short, sweet and to the point. Those that simply name things (shapes, animals, clothing, foods, household items, etc.) are especially helpful at this age.
This may also the best time to start taking your baby on walks and excursions to a variety of places such as the zoo, nature trails and botanical gardens to allow them to take in the sights and sounds.