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During their first year of life, knowing how to play with your baby will ensure that both you and your little one make the most out of the times your baby is awake and alert.
From the day they’re born to their first birthday, playing with your baby is one of the best ways to help your infant learn about the world around them. Playing can also teach them how to communicate and interact intellectually, physically and socially.
Just like your baby develops in different ways over time, so does their ability to play at different stages. And how you interact with them during the first month is different than how you play with them in the second or third month.
Part of knowing how to play with them is understanding when they’re ready to play and when they’d rather not. Your little one will give you cues and if you watch for those cues, you’ll be able to make the most out of playtime for both you and your baby.
Toys can be a wonderful way to play with your baby and a great way for your baby to learn and develop. Because every infant develops at a different rate, many toys are ideal for more than one age range.
For example, blocks are a wonderful interactive toy for babies at many stages but your little one will play with blocks differently at 6 months than they will at 12 months.
At 6 months it might be great fun for them to knock down a tower of blocks but they may need you to build that tower for them. But at 12 months they’re able to stack the blocks and play with them all on their own.
With all of that in mind, here are some guidelines on how and when to play with your baby. We’ve also included suggestions for toys that are appropriate at different stages during your infant’s first year of life.
How to Play with You Newborn Baby?
How Can You Tell When Your Baby Is Ready To Play?
How To Play With Your Baby As They Grow
Your baby will develop at a surprisingly fast rate, as will the manner in which they interact with you. So the way you play with your baby as they grow will also evolve.
By the time your child is around 3 or 4 weeks old, they will begin making sounds. At this stage your baby may also begin lifting their head during tummy time and they may love watching their hands move in front of their face.
Placing an unbreakable baby mirror 8 to 10 inches from your babies face during tummy time will help to entertain and stimulate them.
By about two months of age your baby is much more alert. They’ll begin making even more noise when you talk to them and may have started reaching out and trying to grab things. At this stage, during active alert times, rattles are a great way to stimulate their sight and hearing.
If they’re having quiet time in their crib, a rotating mobile with dangling toys is ideal. If the toys dangle low enough, your baby might even start swatting at them which is a great way for them to start to develop their hand-eye coordination.
Your Baby’s First Effort Towards Active Play
Playing with your baby is great way to bond and an important way to help them develop on many levels.
Each stage of your infant’s development is exciting and offers you new ways to play and interact with them.
When your baby is first born, it’s wonderful to spend time singing, reading and talking to them.
As they get older, start introducing toys that will help them explore and learn about the world around them.
Simple games such as peek-a-boo, patty cake, and itsy bitsy spider are also great fun for your baby during their first year of life.
However you choose to play with your baby…
…keep in mind that every infant develops at different rates.
So don’t expect your baby to always be drawn to the same toys other infants their age are drawn to.
Your baby is unique with a personality that’s all their own.
That’s what makes them so wonderful and such a joy to be with!