Why is play important for babies?

17 Aug 2018
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Why is play important for babies?

Playing is more than just enjoyable for babies, it’s how they learn and make meaning of the world around them. Through play, children learn and develop vital life skills that will help form the foundations for learning. For a baby, playing is the most natural thing in the world, but there is a lot more to it than just ‘play’. Research has shown that play is imperative to a baby’s brain development and play with a parent involved helps them to develop their social skills as well through beginning to understand that play is a collaborative and social process.

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When babies are playing they are developing the following skills:

  • Their physical skills (fine and gross motor)
  • Learn to feel happy, safe and loved
  • Learn how to care for others and developing relationships with others around
  • Building confidence within the environment and learning how to negotiate their environments
  • Discovering their own creativity

Play gives an amazing opportunity for parents to build close bonds with their baby.  There are some simple ways that a parent can engage with their baby in play and remember that repetition is key. Babies learn through experiences being tailored to their curiosity.

Babies often send signals when it’s time to play and there are some signals that your baby can send to let you know that they are ready to play. The signals include:

  • Baby indicating that they would like to be held or indicating out to you
  • Laughing and smiling
  • Observing those around them with keen interest.

Simple games that a parent can do to get involved in play with their baby includes:

  • Peek – A – Boo!
  • Dancing with baby holding them tight
  • Setting up a sensory area that holds lots of different types of fabric (corduroy, denim, shiny material etc.) and giving baby time to explore
  • Singing simple nursery rhymes with corresponding hand actions (Eensy Weensy Spider, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star etc.)

This gives parents and caregivers a wonderful opportunity to continue to build close relationships with baby and helps baby to see that they are collaborators and contributors to the play and learn about the world around them.