I am dedicating this week's blogs to play. It is easy to assume your babies will grow up and automatically know how to play. They don't automatically do anything so you can understand that the only way they will know how to play is if you teach them. Think about how a baby smiles, they copy you doing it to them right? They learn to walk, talk, run, jump and more by watching those doing it around them. So just like teaching fine and gross motor skills, we need to teach our children how to play.
Have you ever had kids come over that tear up your house like a tornado, tipping things out of boxes, throwing toys across the room, drawing on walls etc? Or maybe your kids do this and you have no idea why! It's no one's fault but it is an easy fix. So where do we start?
Well let's start with little bubbas today. How is a baby supposed to play, they just lay there? Play is a vital part of your babies development from smiling to crawling or walking in the first 12 months. Newborns begin to learn about their world by sight, feel, sound, taste and smell. They follow the sound of your voice, reach to grab toys or something moving in front of them and in time begin to roll over, sit, crawl, talk and all the different milestones we as mummas love to tick off.
I'm sure you have an abundance of baby toys and your bubba will definitely have his or her favourite but you can make the most out of playing with. When mine were babies I saw no point in setting up a giant toy room or having a great big box full of all the toys they have. Instead I set up a play mat and with mine I was able to hang things over them when they would lay on it. Every week I would change over the toys that I hung up and put around the play mat. This way they were looking at new things to learn from and having only a few things out at a time the space was small, which is all you need with a bubba. I learned so much from my bubbas doing this. Each of them smiled and reached at different toys they were attracted to and toys they never showed much interest in I eventually stopped bringing out. Did any of you find your babies first roll was them trying to grab or reach something? I also would do this to teach my bubbas how to crawl and roll putting toys just out of their reach. As your bubba gets older and the more complex toys come out of button pushing or putting things together then show them how to play with it. I will go into this more on my next blog but if you show them what to do they will copy you. I remember when we bought Jack a walker toy. He would sit there and press all the buttons and I couldn't work out why he didn't turn it around, stand up and walk with it. Well when I realised he's not a mind reader and made a game out of showing him how to walk with it, that toy was walked from one end of the hallway to the other for weeks!
While you may have a collection of adorable and colourful toys for your bubba, don't ever forget songs, games and books are all methods of play. I will be focussing more on books next week but below I have listed some types of play you can do with your bubba from newborn to 12 months or when they are walking.
Singing nursery rhymes - these songs are easy for them to remember and recognise and any song with actions is a bonus as that is what they will learn to copy first. Franklin is obsessed with Incy Wincy Spider and Open Shut Them and as you know he doesn't talk yet but he will come up to us and start doing actions to a song he wants us to sing. When Eva was a few months old I used to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and she would give me the biggest smiles. Sing them during nappy changes or getting dressed. It keeps their attention so you can get it done and there is no excuse to say you have no time to sing to them.
Games - they can be anything from peek a boo to something completely ridiculous that you made up. If your bubba is amused and interacting with you then they are learning. I used to make a line of toys and hide one every time I got them to not look. It was amazing to watch them think about what was missing and then try and find it. That's some good problem solving skills right there! A game can be as simple as pointing to a banana in the shop or a bird in the sky. You are teaching them to talk and introducing them to their environment. Make tidying up a fun game while they watch you or put their toys back in their toy box. If you start doing it with them early, you don't have to teach them when they are older when you get to the point where it is easier doing it yourself! I still have those moments don't worry.
Play can start from the moment your baby has arrived. All those books you read about singing to your bubba while you are pregnant or reading aloud, well here they are in the flesh and can actually see you doing it! Make some time each day to play with your baby, they will learn so much from doing it with you and what better person to play with them than their mumma! (or sibling or daddy).
© The Realistic Mum
Follow me on Instagram, my Face Book Page or Twitter by using the links below. Please email with any questions you have or difficulties that I can help or encourage you with