Fun and easy activities to play while educating your baby. Help stimulate your infant's development
Most of your baby's learning in their first year will happen naturally while you talk, read, interact and play with them every day. Bring on some adorable smiles and giggles by making faces and acting silly.
From the age of one to two your child will pick up many new skills, such as talking, walking with ease, creativity, balance and more refined motor skills while using their hands and fingers.
Help to nurture their development by playing with them in a variety of different ways. A lot of your baby’s learning simply done exploring the world around them with you at their side to guide them.
1. Tummy time
You can start as early as the day you arrive home from the hospital. Slowly of course. When starting tummy time, it’s recommended to do 1-2 minutes just a few times a day. Then over time you can gradually build this up to 10-15 minutes, several times a day.
Your baby spends a lot of time on their back sleeping with their head in the one position. This can cause a flat spot on their head so regular tummy time can help prevent this. Flat spots usually improve on their own as baby grows and begins to sit up.
2. Point and explain
While you travel around with your baby / toddler, point to different objects and things while saying what they are. They probably aren't showing signs of speaking yet, but they will be listening and observing as you speak.
Point to things and ask, "Do you know what this is? What colour is that?" They will amaze you one day when they are suddenly able to answer you.
3. Share the love of readingReading a good book to your child can start as soon as they are born. Studies have even shown that reading to your baby in the womb can promotes brain activity, early literacy skills and language development.
We read to both of our new-borns. They didn't have a clue what we were saying, but exposing them to the act of reading and lots of new words stimulated our babies young minds.Books are a fun and relaxing part of our bedtime routine, and we try to read a book every night before our kids go to sleep.
Try reading to your one-year-old at least once a day at bedtime. If you find yourself with a quiet few minutes, then pick up a book and read to them.
Point to a picture and ask them repeat back to you what it is of? This will help them to practice their words.
4. Fun found in the cupboard
Your baby is on the move and is curious to raid your cupboards. Instead of having all of your cupboards baby-proof, leave one designated for play. This is an easy, cost effective way to allow some controlled exploration in your kitchen.
Place some wooden spoons, pots, pans, and other safe objects in a drawer or cupboard so they can reach and entertain themselves while you are busy in the kitchen. You may find you have a talented little drummer on your hands. Your child will be stirring up and serving some awesome imaginary meals before you know It!
5. Be brave and explore
You may find yourself getting really nervous watching your kids play in a playground. When you see them struggling to climb a ladder or walking up to a bit of a drop off you may worry they’re about to fall.
Try to hold yourself back while being close enough to step in, telling them “be brave but careful”. They need to know small risks and learn to take some, be brave and try new things.
Take your children to an age-appropriate playground and let them go and explore, letting them climb and occasionally fall over teaches them it’s OK to try new things and improve their confidence.
6. Water Play
Don't just save water play for bath time. Water play is one the most inexpensive and fun things your child will enjoy. I know as a child I enjoyed splashing around in the garden on a warm day.Simply fill some recycled plastic tub from the kitchen give them a good wash and fill with water. Various other items like, plastic cups, kitchen ladles, large pipette etc anything your bub can use to make a splash. Jugs are
a great introduction to learning about capacity, as you can explain to your child about which jug holds more water.
Remember never to leave your baby or toddler unattended near water. ALWAYS stay nearby and keep vigilant.
There’s no harm in starting to teach your one-year-old numbers, they may not be able to count to 10 for a little while yet, but young minds are like a sponge soaking up information. Your child will amaze you nearly every day with a new little thing they have learnt.
Using a colouring book with numbers for your little one to colour in, or a simple number puzzle with big pieces and bright pictures.
While playing with toys, hold them up or point to them while counting to show your child how many there are. Timber blocks or an abacus are great for this!
8. Decision making
Here's a physical and mental exercise for your little one.Give your baby two toys so that they are holding one in each hand. Offer a third toy so they can practice their decision making skills.
Should I drop this toy and grab another? Maybe I'll try to hold all three!
9. Build a fort, pitch a tent
Building an inside fort out of blankets, or putting up a tent, is a wonderful opportunity for imaginative play.
Your little one can help to furnish your fort or cubby house with cushions and toys. You can ask them questions like, what type of structure is it? Is it a house, a big ship, or a secret cave?
10. Being silly and laughing
Nothing is better than having a good laugh and making your baby giggle! It's not just good for your souls it helps develop their sense of a humour. This is an important part of human communication.
Pay attention to whatever your baby finds funny. Use props like big sunglasses a silly wig or funny hats to make your baby giggle. Sometimes just laughing at each other in the mirror works a treat.
Making a little mess is a great way for your child to have fun, unleash their creativity and explore new textures.
Finger painting, playing with squashy food like jelly, sensory tubs filled with coloured rice or pasta or making edible paint using food dye and yoghurt are great messy play ideas for your little one.
Remember never to leave your baby or toddler unattended around chocking hazards. ALWAYS stay nearby and keep vigilant.
12. Describe what they’re doing during play
While your child is sitting and playing, talk to them and describe what they are doing or using, what colour or shape is an item? What action is taking place.
For example, “You’re rolling the blue ball, feel the fluffy yellow blanket, you’re walking over to the door.” Your child will soon be able to associate words with their actions.
13. Role playing
As your child's imagination opens up a whole world of fun and exploration awaits your toddler. These skills typically come naturally as they copy and imitate what they see in the real world, while watching you or siblings, on television or in books.
While enjoying things like a play kitchen, tea party set, feeding a baby doll or pet, driving a car, or sweeping the floor, your little one will love to learn and participate in activities that they see you doing.
14. Wooden inset puzzles
Puzzles are great for developing so many skills. hand-eye coordination with flipping and turning the pieces to fit them in their slots, fine motor skills by using their hands to grasp and manipulate the little pegs or whole wooden pieces.
They will learn problem solving by letting their brains figure out the best way to fit pieces into their spot. This type of activity board will help develop your little ones complex fine-motor-skills, while keeping them away from screens.
15. Making MusicBabies love music! They can drum along while listening to music played on the radio or sound system. If you have toy instruments like maracas, xylophone or tambourine etc, they are great to use. You can also make musical ‘instruments’ with so many household objects especially from the kitchen. You can simply use wooden spoons as drumsticks and upturned bowls as drums.
Your toddler can shake a bottle with some rice inside to make a shaker noise, bang a wooden spoon on a box or tin can or fill plastic containers with uncooked beans or pasta to create different sounds.
Let your imagination run wild
There are so many other ways to learn while playing with your baby and toddler. It can be as simple as sitting under a tree at your local park on a sunny day to count leaves on the ground.