Your Baby

Approaches to Play and Learning

Play is an essential part of your baby’s world. Have you noticed how excited she gets when you introduce a bright new toy into her environment? Or how eager she is to take in her surroundings when she’s outside, in a restaurant, or driving in the car? Her curiosity is growing — and baby play time makes that growth possible!

Her interest in how things work is developing too. She might shake a rattle repeatedly with wide-eyed wonder. Perhaps she may dunk a ball in the bathtub and watch it pop to the surface. She also loves watching other children, but when she’s alone, she’s perfectly happy to play solo. There’s just so much to see and do!

A new, easy to use online application for child care assistance and state funded pre-k: Early Ed Connect

I Love Discovering My World.

Lights, sounds, smells, taste, touch…there is so much for your baby to explore! His first months are full of discovery, and he spends his days eager to connect, learn, play and discover how things work. His little brain is working overtime as he takes in all that’s new and interesting — which, for him, is just about everything! Count the number of new discoveries he makes each day — the texture of a stone, the sound of a dog barking, the feel of oatmeal in his fingers. You’ll recognize them by the excitement and wonder in his face!

Look for signs of learning at your child's care.

You might see a teacher put a toy just out of reach so a little one has to stretch and work to grasp it. A little struggle is great for learning, but a teacher should jump in and help if a baby becomes upset. This is the delicate balance between pushing for learning and growth while offering a comforting safety net.

Watch Me Watch You.

She’s all about imitation right now. Clap, and she’ll clap back. Throw your hands up in the air with an exclamation of “Soooo big,” and watch her do the same. She’s learning how to hold on to her favorite blankie, how to grasp a spoon and how to work her bottle or cup. She wants to do everything you do — after all, you’re her favorite teacher!

Look for signs of learning at your child's care.

Watch as babies and caregivers engage in both real and pretend play. “A pot on your head? How silly are you pretending it’s a hat? Okay, it can be a hat!”

I Know How to Make Things Happen.

When your baby cries, he’s telling you he’s frustrated, tired, or hungry. And when you respond to him, he understands that his persistence has paid off. Plus, he knows that you’re there to take care of his needs.

If you see him repeatedly trying to push a round ball through a square hole — and you experience his frustration when he’s unsuccessful — guide him with gentle reassurance. He’s learning what he’s capable of accomplishing!

Look for signs of learning at your child's care.

Is the teacher encouraging your baby to focus on a game for a few moments? You might hear her say, “Let’s put one more ring on the stacker. I’ll help.” That’s a great sign of a place where growing attention spans are encouraged.

I Like Watching You Play.

Take your baby outside and see how she reacts to other children playing nearby. Notice her fascination with the littlest people in her life…and watch as she begins to engage in solitary play. As she gains a little autonomy, she’s developing more interest in her toys. Encourage her to observe and discover on her own. She knows you’ll be right there for her when she needs you!

Look for signs of learning at your child's care.

Look for a cozy, safe space on the floor where two little ones can play near one another. Babies love to look at and learn from other babies.

All children learn and grow at their own pace and in their own way. For more information about the skills and milestones for your child's age check out our developmental milestones resource page. If you continue to have concerns or questions please give us a call at 1-800-299-1627.