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Playtime Ideas for Babies and Toddlers

Playtime is important for all children.  Even very young babies enjoy playtime.  

Younger Babies Playtime:

  • Mirror Play –  Surprise your infant by showing her reflection in a mirror. That first time, she may not even realize that she’s looking at herself but as she gets older, she will laugh and smile just gazing at her reflection.
  • Tickle the Tootsies – When you baby is a few weeks and months old, even discovering their fingers and toes is an adventure. Play with their tiny feet with games like “This Little Piggy” or pretend to gobble up their toes.
  • Tummy Time –  Help strengthen your baby’s neck and arm muscles. Place the baby on their stomach with their arms outstretched and sit ground level so that they can see your face. Then watch as your baby tries to lift her head up and move her arms. The first few months she won’t be able to get very far but before you know it, she’ll be cruising everywhere!

Older Babies Playtime:

  • Play hardworking games – During the second 6 months, babies become more active play partners. Continue stimulating speech with games that involve chanting or rhyming, such as “This Little Piggy,” “Patty Cake,” “The Wheels on the Bus,” and “Ring Around the Rosy.” Multitasking activities such as these teach sequences of actions and words; encourage baby to participate with movement, whether it’s swaying to the sound or incorporating hand motions; and improve motor skills.
  • Know when it’s okay to play – Playtime is more productive when your baby is well-rested and alert. It’s not a good time to play if he’s drowsy, crabby, or hungry. Signs baby isn’t ready to play? He’ll turn his face or his entire body away from you, divert eye contact, or arch his back. Respect baby’s signals. Your baby will show you when it’s a good time to play.
  • Encourage communication – Whenever baby babbles or coos, repeat the sound she makes, then give her the chance to respond. This shows her that what she’s saying is important to you and encourages reciprocal communication.

Toddler Play:

Babies are an easy crowd to amuse, as long as it’s shiny, noisy, or brightly colored. (Bonus points if it can be mouthed.) But once they step over the threshold to toddler hood, they suddenly gravitate toward very specific interests. They start to get good at certain things – like building skyscraper buildings with blocks, or throwing a ball crazy far, or painting . It’s so interesting to watch toddlers hone in on certain skills and activities -whether it’s more creative or more physical.

  • Creativity Play. Give your toddler an empty cardboard box, and they will be happy for hours playing inside it, climbing on it, and using his imagination to create castles, cars, trains and just about anything he can imagine.
  • Clean Finger Painting. Shaving cream makes excellent finger paint.  Of course, you have to supervise and make sure they don’t try to eat the shaving cream.  You simply spray the shaving cream on a table top and let them smear it all over. They can learn letters, draw silly faces, or just enjoy making squiggles.
baby playtime on tummy

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