What play does for you and your baby

Babies learn about their world and themselves through you. They learn this through everything you do together.

Babies come into the world with a huge capacity to establish human connections. Newborns can already recognise familiar voices and sounds they have heard before birth. Your voice and face become a familiar source of comfort, nourishment and warmth and they respond to your soothing touch. Your baby will look to you to help to understand the new sights, sounds and experiences around them.

Play is a major way infants learn how to communicate, socialise and understand their surroundings and their internal feelings. What play involves depends on the developmental age of your baby. It starts with very simple things involving their senses, looking, listening, touching and tasting and as baby develops more complex things can be included like games involving peek-a-boo, anticipation and surprise and exploration.

What is the best toy for your baby

What is the best toy for your baby?

The best toy for your baby is you. Babies are programmed to attend to your face, your voice, and your smell right from the start.

Newborns love face-to-face interaction and play. In the first few months the best distance for baby to focus on another’s face is 22cm. Just the distance between your face and theirs when you hold them in the crook of your arm. They prefer to look at patterns rather than single colours and curved 3D shapes like balls over straight-lined shapes like boxes.

As baby grows their appreciation of their environment and their ability to interact with it also grows.

Babies are interested in looking at you particularly when you do something to try to catch their attention. Something a little more animated or out of the ordinary will be captivating.

You might use your eyes and eyebrows together with your mouth and hands to show surprise! You might use your smile and some sounds or words to show excitement, pleasure or encouragement.

Mirroring your baby’s expressions and gestures is a way of conveying understanding and acceptance and can help develop your baby’s communication.

Mirroring your baby’s expressions

How early should you begin to play with your baby?

Play and interaction begins right at the start. You might not realise you are playing but every positive interaction with your baby helps them to feel safe, secure, understood and comfortable.