Playing (birth - 15 months)

Babies play with everything––with their bodies, with people, and with objects. It’s how they learn!

As a young baby engages in back-and-forth play with a tuned-in adult, she is building a trusting relationship and gaining language and listening skills. Follow a baby’s lead: she will let you know when she wants more or is ready to move onto something else. She may begin to anticipate repeated actions and words as you play and will respond with giggles, coos, or movements. When you match a baby’s enthusiasm with your own, you increase the fun—and the learning.

For a baby, play is serious business. She may focus intently as she waves and watches her hands, figures out how to climb onto a couch, or fits a lid onto a pot. To help a baby thrive in your caregiving environment as she plays and learns, you can:

  • Offer the support of attentive adults.
  • Give her interesting and attainable challenges.
  • Provide a space that is free of too many distractions.
  • Allow her time to notice the results of her actions and to make them happen again and again.

As you notice what fascinates babies, create lots of opportunities for focused play. A few carefully arranged materials may be more engaging than a box full of toys. You expand babies’ learning when you talk with them about what they are doing, offer help with a problem, or add a new element to their play. Your genuine delight in their efforts and accomplishments encourages them to persist and to make new discoveries.

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