From the moment that your child was conceived, you’ve no doubt been mindful of their development; from growth scans and measurements to those post-birth health checks, every stage of your baby’s life will be tested and documented as they develop. As a parent, it can be tempting to worry about such things, particularly if you’re concerned that your child is failing to reach their milestones in a timely fashion. Could you be doing more to help your child? The answer, usually, is a resounding no; babies learn by imitation and through play, so there’s really no need to introduce your infant to textbooks just yet. Indeed, the very best thing that you could be doing for your child is to play with them throughout infancy and beyond.
Allow us to explain why…
The importance of play
You may have heard the term “child’s play”, referring to tasks or challenges that are seen as simple, but there’s a whole lot more to play than meets the eye when it comes to your child’s development. Play offers children an avenue to explore the world in a safe, gentle manner, encouraging interactions with people, places, and situations that they might not have come across before. Above all, play is fun; it enables children to become absorbed in what they’re doing, which in turn will help them to build focus and concentration. It teaches about cause and effect, cultural differences, problem solving and logic, as well as providing endless entertainment and introducing concepts such as science, math, and languages. Your child has plenty of time for formal education; now is their time to play.
Stimulate the senses
Access to toys that embrace different colors, noises, and textures will enrich your child’s infancy, allowing their senses to develop and flourish; though your baby might not be able to tell you what they’re looking at immediately, those toys will help to develop their vision, hearing, touch, and experiences of the world, while being incredibly exciting to explore and play with. Babies use their senses in order to react to their environment and seek information – skills that rattles, activity mats, soft toys, and musical instruments are going to assist.
Help to develop language skills
Language and communication are vital skills; they enable us to interact with one another, express our emotions, and ask for the things we need. Babies are born with very few methods of communicating aside from crying, smiling, and gurgling. However, via processes of play and imitation, they soon learn how to express themselves – and how to interpret the words and commands that we’re using. Communication skills flourish as babies and children begin to use their imagination, playing with toy food, dressing up clothes, building blocks, dolls, and trucks. Language skills and vocabulary, meanwhile, can be nurtured with songs and action rhymes.
Teach gross and fine motor skills
From the moment that your baby learns how to focus, they are going to be attracted to the nearest and brightest toys; such toys are going to become a vital part of the development of your child’s fine and gross motor skills. This attraction to toys will soon develop into reaching and grasping, rolling, crawling, standing, and then walking, followed by more refined movements such as pinching, holding a pencil, kicking, and throwing. Brightly colored toys that your child can put together and take apart, such as Magic Tracks Race Tracks, will stimulate both fine and gross motor skills while providing hours of entertainment.
Teach valuable lessons about the world around us
To begin with, playtime will come as a rather solitary act for your child as they get to grips with toys either alone or one-on-one with you. Eventually, though, your child will begin to notice and interact with other children. The playtime that they enjoy with other children will help them to learn how to share, how to communicate, and about differences and similarities, as well as developing a sense of self when compared to others. Play can also help your child to interpret the actions of others, and to learn a little about cause and effect; this is your child’s opportunity to discover how they fit into the world.
Instill confidence and self-worth
There’s so much more to play than exploration and learning; play can also help to instill your child with confidence, and to nurture their sense of self-worth. Children begin to learn from their mistakes as they play, whether that means using a toy in a different manner, or applying a new set of skills to make the most of a scenario. These actions allow children to see what they’re capable of, as well as giving them the confidence to try new things. Play sessions can be a great way to introduce your child to new people, concepts, and cultures; play enables children to approach new things with assurance and excitement.
Play is absolutely vital to your baby’s development. Approximately 90% of brain development will have occurred by the time a child turns five years of age, meaning that your little one simply won’t wait until kindergarten and school before they begin to learn. Whether it’s organized or informal play, access to toys, games, songs, and social circles will help your child to work out how the world works, and to identify where they fit in. From movement and the development of the senses, to language, communication, and social skills, play can help in every aspect of a child’s early life – and beyond.