Your little one’s brain is amazing. Everything they learn from a newborn to preschool age is remembered and stored away.
And they’ll surprise you with a new skill as they grow older – usually when you least expect it.
At a glance
- Stimulate their senses from the newborn stage
- Their little brains store things away
- Encourage building
Your little one will love listening to you read them a book or singing songs (don’t worry if you’re more than cat wailer rather than X Factor winner they‘ll adore it anyway).
However, like all of us your little person will also need some ‘me time’ for them to explore the world around them and all their toys. Not only does this give you a rest (don’t feel guilty, enjoy it) it’s great for their development too.
How your baby learns through play
Babies love to play with everything from their feet to their fingers to their toes. If they can touch it, they’ll play with it.
When your little one first begins to play, their whole body is involved in reaching, grasping, rolling and touching things. This type of play is them learning how to explore how to use their senses. Encourage your little one to develop their coordination at this stage by giving them a noisy toy such as a rattle. If your little one is too young to hold their own toy then have some one-to-one time and play with them, or buy a couple of wrist and feet rattles.
From six months
As your baby begins to embrace their inner explorer you’ll find that they want to play with more toys. Once your little one can sit up on their own it’s time to increase their coordination and visual skills. Building blocks are a wonderful example of toys that are skill building (your little one will love stacking them up). Once they can stand, encourage them to build towers with bricks and watch them squeal with delight as they tumble down. Bubbles are also a great way to stimulate the senses, creating hours of fascination and giggles as they pop, while balls that they can roll and – in time – be crawled after, are also a great option.
Your baby is now a little person, walking, talking and doing little things that make you laugh. Help with their memory and physical skills by buying them their first set of colourful toddler blocks and watch them pair them up.
Two year olds love to pretend, basing their play on imitating things they have seen you, or other people do. You may notice they use their toys to match up similar items – a sign they are developing their cognitive skills – or stacking their toys, a physical skill. Counting toys aloud is also a great sign their language skills are developing. Combine stacking and counting with numbered blocks such as the 1-2-3 Learning Train from Mega Bloks.
Your little one is chatting away, coming up with funny phrases that will make you giggle for hours. But they’ll still be learning through playing with different things.
Help them express their language skills, coordination and embrace their inner Gary Barlow/Beyonce with this Billy Beats Dancing Piano from Mega Bloks.
Alternatively, cars, trucks and trains as well as animals, are great for helping your little person develop their vocabulary as they learn the names of each, what they do, what they eat or where you can find them.
You may find your little one also makes up all kinds of different scenarios that the vehicles or animals may find themselves in, providing for further language and vocabulary development.