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Play & Learning

Play is an essential part of your baby’s world.

Circle 1

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!

Your Baby

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!

  • 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.

    Learn more about ideas to learn and play together below.

  • 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!”

    Learn more about ideas to learn and play together below.

  • 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.

    Learn more about ideas to learn and play together below.

  • 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.

    Learn more about ideas to learn and play together below.

Ideas to Learn and Play Together!

From bedtime to playtime, your child is always learning. Check out these family-time ideas for building their skills, and your family connections. 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.

  • Time to Play

    We all want our child to play with others, but at this stage your little one will be more likely to watch with interest, than to interact. Want to encourage your baby and a friend to enjoy playing next to each other? Create a soft, open space by laying a large blanket down. Then, placing your infant and a friend on their tummies facing one another. Stay close by to offer support, silly faces or to take a tummy-time break as needed.

  • Problem Solved!

    It’s normal for babies to get frustrated. But play can be a great space to explore solutions to problems. Work through challenges in pretend play first! Use puppets, dolls, or even dinosaurs. "“Grrr! I cannot get my shoe on,’ growled the dinosaur!” Have a helper come and save the day by asking questions. “Could you try a new strategy? Maybe slow down. Then, push your foot into it.” As your child pretends with toys, she builds skills to solve her real-life problems.

  • One at a Time

    Give your baby uninterrupted time to explore objects. Place just one toy within his reach so he can explore without distraction. This is the first of many small steps in building a longer attention span. When he starts to lose interest, add a new toy to create two options — old and new.

  • What's New?

    Your child likes variety and is eager to learn new things, go new places and see new things. Notice your child’s interest and point it out. “You are bouncing up and down in your stroller, are you excited to see the doggy?” Your words and attention create a wonderful leaning opportunity for her; they connect words with objects, places and people!

  • It's for You

    The best way to help your child get creative is to become a part of the fun! Does your baby use everyday objects to pretend? Go along with the story. When your child uses a block as a pretend phone, join in the story! “Hello! Oh, thank you for calling me.”

  • Learning All the Time

    Believe it or not, your tiny one is building the foundation for lifelong learning all the time. Everyday play helps her learn so much! When she holds a toy, brings it to her mouth, and explores by tasting, mouthing, and looking, her brain explores problem solving! Give your baby three similar chewable toys to play with; watch to see how she plays with each.

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