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Baby Chef

Playing helps your baby:

  • To do more tricky learning tasks and supports their brain and language development, social, physical and problem-solving skills
  • To learn through using their 5 senses - Tasting, Touching, Smelling, Seeing, and Hearing
  • To develop their brain and build nerve connections
  • To calm down when feeling angry or worried

Soft cuddly animals and plastic toys made especially for babies are useful because they are safe, fun and washable.

Expensive toys that are made for "early learning or "brain development" can be a let-down if your baby is quickly bored with them. Babies' brains develop best when they spend time with their parents and carers, and play with simple, everyday things.

    Play with everyday objects

    Jennie Linden wrote a series of leaflets for Early Education ten years ago, and her words remain true for many babies: "We live in a high-tech society now, but babies remain saucepan and cardboard box people."

    Why do babies want to play with your metal teaspoon?

    Babies have always enjoyed exploring objects with their hands, eyes and mouths. Every experience a baby has stimulates their brain. Plastic spoons aren't as interesting - your baby likes the metal teaspoon for three main reasons:

    • The metal feels cold and hard in their mouth
    • The spoon makes an interesting noise when they bang it on the table, highchair or even better a saucepan
    • Most importantly, you seem to like to play with them when you measure coffee or stir tea in a mug

    Treasure baskets

    A treasure basket is a collection of objects made from mainly natural materials. Babies like to explore interesting textures, shapes and smells piled up in a large round basket or shoe box.

    Try making a simple treasure basket - your baby will love it:

    • Objects in the treasure basket need to be safe. Check for loose parts and wash the items regularly.
    • Sit your baby near the basket so they can reach the items. You need to sit near to your baby, but don't interrupt them, just watch.
    • When your baby looks up at you, encourage them with a smile or response to what they are doing: "What have you got?"
    • Your baby may look at the things for up to 30 minutes. When they start to get tired, put the basket away for later.

    For safety reasons, never leave your child unattended with their treasure basket.

    Visit our page on treasure boxes for more information and ideas on items you could include.

    Play together

    Playing together benefits so many areas of your child's development and they will thrive off the love and attention they receive.

      Watch these videos for ideas on how to help your baby learn and play:

      Mirror play video

      Scarf play video

      Bubble play video

      Flashcards video

      Songs and rhymes video

      Foil blanket play video

      Sensory play video

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