Child Developpement #2
For the very first article about Child Development, I spoke about toys for the first year of your baby. The offer is important in shops so here are the 3 points to remember for choosing toys : lightness, simplicity, handling abilities.
But toys alone are not enough to allow your baby to grow up. Indeed we can distinguish two different playing times : In one hand there is exploratory and solitary games, exploration of their own body and the close environment. And in another hand, there is time for relational games with you, the parent/carer, as active partner. We will see why this second part is essential to baby’s wellbeing.
About solitary playing time.
All along the day, your baby has moments where their is able to spend time by themselves, watching what is around them, touching, pushing, pulling, what is accessible to them, listening the sounds and music produced in the closed environment, smelling what is in the air…. Your baby is constantly using their 5 senses. During these moments, your baby needs to feel you are present but not necessary active with them. You speak to them, comforting them you are here and can see them. Remember your child must always be under your supervision or someone responsible of their wellbeing.
About relational playing time.
As we said above, your baby is very curious about everything. Their 5 senses allow them to enhance and improve their development. But it is also necessary to share time and game with them. Why play with your baby ? Playing is a serious work for children because it is about the understanding of the world before to be for pleasure.
“Let’s try to define play; Adults might say that play is something we do for fun which shouldn’t be taken too seriously. They may concentrate on something for quite long periods, and practise it over and over. For example learning to roller skate may take a great deal of time and effort, yet children do it for fun. When parents tell their children to go out and play they usually mean ‘go and pass some time in pleasant way’. But the ways in which children play may have important consequences for other aspects of their development.”
An Introduction to Child Development – G.C.Davenport.
When you play with your baby, you speak to them, you touch them, you are sharing time together which build the social abilities.
Speaking with your baby will develop their language by:
- describing what they are doing: “I can see you are listening the music”
- describing what you are doing: “I am removing your nappy”, “I am tidying the room”,
- describing what they watch/saw: “I can see you are watching the picture on the wall”
- encouraging and gratifying them for their success: “You grabbed the ball, good job”
- reading them a story. From the birth you can tell stories to your baby by reading a book or telling about a family story, their history.
By observing you, your baby will imitate you. Some studies showed that the baby can start to imitate the adults from 5 month old. Nursery rhymes are usually the first things your baby will reproduce by imitating you. Sing and sign finger-play with them. Finger-play is a hand movement, combined with singing nursery rhymes to engage chilfren's interest and develop fine motor skills. “Incy wincy spider”, “If you are happy”, “The wheels on the bus”, “Head shoulders knees and toes”, etc …
Starting by the well known “peekaboo” in the first months of your baby, hide and seek is the most famous and easier game. It will be played for many years then. Above the excitement and the laugh it can produce, hide-and-seek teaches a lot to your baby:
- Object permanence : Baby learns the disappearing of their parent/carer is not forever. They exist even though they can’t see them. Your baby is learning about abstract thinking and memory.
- Problem Solving Skills : Your baby develops their imagination by trying to find a solution to hide or find someone/something.
- Social skills : you interact and bond with your baby. Interaction are part of the socialising abilities.
- Physical health: When baby searches they must move, stretch, push their body which improve muscles tone and stamina.
Give and take : When your baby knows how to catch and release (around 4-7 months), you can hand a small object and say “take it” then offer your open hand and say “give it”. Tell these with watching your baby, smiling to them and giving time to this swap. Play to “take it, give it” is an excellent occasion to check if your baby has pleasure to engage themselves in a relation with you. Another similar game is “go ahead, go back”. Sit in front of your baby and send a ball or a car between both of you. This simple game requires joint attention, necessary for social and intellectual development.
And finally, spend time with your baby, sit or lye beside them and showing interest for their toys, what they are doing, play with them. Sharing time together and you will know each other better and your bond will be reinforced days after days. The games indicated previously are here to give you an idea of what you can do with your child. For example, if you don’t like to sing rhymes don’t do it. Your baby won’t have either good time if they see you are not fully involve in the moment. Quickly you will create your own rituals, routines and games. Parenthood is beautiful but also hard, complicated. Don’t judge yourself if you think you are failing to do something. You are not failing! There is many way to play with babies and everyone need time to find what is the more pleasant way for them. Remember You are the best for you child, trust yourself.
I hope this first post was interesting, pleasant and helpful. I took pleasure to write and draw it. Let me know in the comments what you thought about it and if you have anything else to say. I will read and respond your comments, questions and suggestions with pleasure.
Next article I will give you some ideas about how to lay out the play space for the baby.