Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Play & Development

There’s a lot behind the expression, “We’re not just playing around!” While playing, babies are exploring their new magical surroundings, bonding with those around them and learning about their amazing little body. Close your eyes for a moment, and imagine waking up in an entirely new world, one with new sensations coming at every wink and complete awe everywhere you turn.

When my little two-month-olds were unable to sit up and clap or play with blocks—was there benefit to interactive play at this age? You betcha! Babies develop through play—physically, cognitively and emotionally.

How does the magic begin?

Initially, babies will learn to recognize the voices, faces and touch of those around them. During months one and two, babies fully depend on others to initiate interaction. As these interactions become associated with comfort (food, diaper changes and snuggles), babies will respond more to cues of human interaction. Smiles come next—and those purposeful smiles are the beginning stages of play, interaction, communication and personality! By three months of age, your baby will smile, coo, make faces and even gesture as he plays with you! By four months, a baby may squeal with joy when interactive play begins.

Encourage the learning process by talking to your little one, responding to his or her vocal expressions and providing colorful, age-appropriate toys. For example:
  • 1- to 3-month-old babies love bold colors with contrast, passive play with a mobile or active play involving grasp such as rattles; 
  • 4- to 6-month-old babies love mirrors and toys with sound and texture; and 
  • 7- to 12-month-old babies love toys that stack and have actions associated with rewards (like push and squeak!) 

One Sassy Doctor recommends: