Baby discover

Play is more than fun for babies and children. It’s how they learn and develop. While children do need time to play alone and with other children research shows that playtime with a close adult is one of the most important things you can do.

See below for some ideas of fun experiences to share with your child.

Please note: Some ingredients used in sensory/craft experiences could trigger an allergic response. For this reason, please check the suitability of materials used in activities to make sure they will not affect your child. Also remember to never leave young children unattended whilst they are exploring sensory/craft experiences.

Did you know young babies can only focus 20-25 centimetres or eight to 10 inches from their faces? Young babies also prefer black and white, high contrast images to colour ones. Perhaps you could display some black and white images close to where your baby spends their playtime, or beside their cot to support their vision development. Images can be found at baby.zorger.com

 

Young children find the texture of foam fascinating! Whisking baby safe/tear free bubble bath in warm water makes plenty of foam which can be scooped off the top and put into a tray for your child to play with. Why not add a little food colouring. Your child will enjoy exploring the foam, to add to the fun why not add spoons and pots to scoop up the bubbles or some of your child’s favourite small world toys such as animals, cars! Remember to use baby safe bubble bath as it might well be tasted! This is a good exploratory play experience to offer at home, this play will further develop your child’s communication, exploratory skills and physical skills which will aid early writing.

See more bubble foam ideas

Some products used in craft activities can contain ingredients that could trigger an allergic response.  For this reason, please check the suitability of materials used in this activity to make sure they will not affect your child.

Did you know you can start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they start to come through? Use a baby toothbrush with a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste. Don’t worry if you don’t manage to brush much at first. The important thing is to get your baby used to brushing their teeth as part of their daily routine. You can help your child to recognise the importance of looking after their teeth by you setting a good example and letting them see you brushing your own teeth. 

For more information visit NHS dental health

Once infants begin to explore object permanence, a natural next step is for baby to explore “Cause and Effect” play. Parents can support this curiosity simply by giving baby a container (such as a small cardboard box) and suitable objects that they can put into the box and take out again if they choose. Different sized containers and interesting objects provide baby with an opportunity to explore using their senses and to problem solve. 

Babies find the texture of foam fascinating! Whisking soap in warm water makes plenty of foam which can be scooped off the top and put into a tray for baby to play with. Use baby safe soap as it might well be tasted!

For more sensory ideas for baby visit theimaginationtree.com

Some products used in craft activities can contain ingredients that could trigger an allergic response.  For this reason, please check the suitability of materials used in this activity to make sure they will not affect your child.

Babies and toddlers love to look at themselves and explore the effects of mirrored objects. Mirrored objects will provide a good play opportunity to share with your baby during Tummy Time. Your child will enjoy looking in mirrors and exploring other mirrored reflective objects such as spoons, foil, metallic dishes/plates, foil containers used to hold food items such as pies/quiches. Enjoy exploring with your child the effect of their reflections, this will extend your child’s thinking skills-who is the baby? Perhaps use the objects to play ‘peek-a-boo.’ Your child will also enjoy exploring the mirrored objects using their senses of sight, taste, touch and smell. For more information and top tips about mirror play see the Imagination Tree website.

Mirror play

Older babies and young children love to explore the texture, taste and smell of things and sensory play starts to appeal. Here is an idea of a safe to taste exploratory experience to share with your child. Give them a tray of cold cooked pasta/spaghetti to explore, you could add vegetable oil or a flavouring such as raspberry/lemon juice and spoons, sieves and pots to add to the sensory experience. This is a good exploratory play experience which will further develop your child’s physical and communication skills.

Caution
This sensory activity is suitable for babies older than six months who are able to both sit unaided and are eating soluble food (in case it gets tasted!). Remember to never leave your baby unattended when playing with sensory experiences.

Some products used in sensory activities can contain ingredients that could trigger an allergic response. For this reason, please check the suitability of materials used in this activity to make sure they will not affect your child.

Ever wondered why this has been such a favourite game to play with young babies? Babies do not understand “object permanence”, that something or someone continues to exist even when they cannot see them.

At around 4 months your baby will begin to develop an understanding of object permanence. At this stage Hide and Seek games can be a fun experience to share. Try hiding a favourite toy under a blanket, depending on baby’s understanding they will either believe it’s just gone and do nothing, or will start to look for the toy. When first playing the game it helps if the toy is partially visible to encourage your baby to find the toy successfully. Lots of joy to be shared when baby finds the toy again!

Play is the main way that babies and toddlers learn about the world. With your help, it’s also a wonderful way to support their language development.

As a parent, you are your child’s best playmate so try to spend time every day playing together.

Newborns love physical play, especially when you gently tickle their face or count their fingers and toes. When your baby gets a little older and stronger, offer them lots of toys or things that are safe to go into their mouth, and talk about the objects for them. 

Make lots of play sounds to go with what’s happening, like “brmm, brmm” as you push a car along. That way, your child will hear different speech sounds and learn that listening to voices is fun. Your baby will love hearing the same little rhymes and stories, and playing games like peek-a-boo, over and over again.

You don’t need lots of toys to play – your baby can play with safe and simple things from around the house. 

Great for supervised baby exploration! Fill some socks with items such as buttons, marbles, dried pasta or rice. For an extra sensory experience add some scent such as lemon, mint or lavender. Ensure the filled sock is then tightly knotted so nothing can escape.
Did you know, simply by playing together with a scarf, you are helping to refine your child's physical development and language skills? This play will later support their ability to make scribbles and patterns (early mark-making) which aids early writing.

Using a light scarf or voile square:
  • Hold on to a corner and make big movements with your arm (round and round/side to side)
  • Hold the two corners with both hands and flap (up and down)
  • Play peepo
  • Scrunch the scarf up, throw it into the air and watch it float down
  • You could move to a favourite piece of music using your scarf

Singing songs and rhymes with your child is really important because rhythms and repetitive language make it easier for children to learn language skills. Share rhymes with your child and watch the learning begin.

Words For Life
 has some popular songs and nursery rhymes, with some mp3 versions to listen and sing along to as well.

When sharing rhymes with your child, help them to move their arms and legs to the rhythm, keep in time to the beat, it doesn’t matter what movements you use. With an older child you can try clapping and marching to the beat. Find more information about learning with nursery rhymes.

 

A simple but challenging experience encouraging persistence, problem solving and interactive play. You may have at home shop bought containers specifically for this purpose, though different size boxes or tins also make interesting and very effective alternatives. 

Treasure baskets have been used for decades by childcare professionals as a means of teaching young babies how to select, touch, taste and feel. It's a simple idea but one that seemingly works to delight and inspire little eyes, ears and mouths - enriching their experience of objects around them and helping them to gain confidence in making decisions.

Make your own treasure basket by making a collection of objects with different shapes, colours and textures. Try toothbrushes, bath ducks, a soft ball, or natural sponge.

For more ideas go to the Netmums website or see our leaflets for parents.

Did you know that by providing your baby with the opportunity for ‘Tummy Time’ for short and regular periods during waking hours, you will help your baby to gain increased head and body control and co-ordination which will stimulate their brain development and prepare them for pushing up, rolling over, crawling and eventually standing.

Remember - never leave your baby unsupervised whilst they are on their tummy.

Find out more about the benefits of tummy time.

How about creating a Winter Wonderland scene for your child to explore with their favourite small world toys? This scene can be easily created using flour on a tray, you could add further items to contribute to the affect such as cotton wool balls and fir cones. Add your child’s favourite small world figures such as dinosaurs, people, farm play figures and accessories and watch your child’s imagination unfold as you play together. This is a good exploratory play experience to offer at home, and will further develop your child’s imagination and communication skills.

Some products used in craft activities can contain ingredients that could trigger an allergic response.  For this reason, please check the suitability of materials used in this activity to make sure they will not affect your child.