At around 6 months old, our babies are growing quickly and getting more active and energetic. They want to play. After all, we read from experts that play is profoundly important for our babies’ development. Here are 5 simple facts to consider as you play with your baby:
Fact 1: Your presence’s just as important as the activities
It’s easy for us as parents to fall into the trap of leaving the babies with the toys and go on to do our own stuff. After all, there’s so much Facebook and Instagram updates to catch up. And there’s so many messages to reply to in our Whatsapp and Messenger. However, before you do that, you might want to consider that your presence is just as important as the activities or toys that you do with your baby.
For a baby who is starting to learn to play, play means you. You are the most interesting ‘toy’ that he’s been interacting with so far in his life. Your loving presence with your baby really forms the foundation for learning and his development. Not to mention that when there’s no toy around, the baby relies on you, his parents, to play with him.
So, let’s put away our smartphones and be fully present when playing with our baby.
Fact 2: Say NO to screen time
In our modern times, it is a temptation for us to rely on “screens” such as television or our smart devices (smartphones, tablets and computers) to keep our babies entertained. But do you know that it’s bad idea to expose them to screen time before they are 18 months old? Research has shown that the pre-mature exposure to the screens impedes their development and affects their attention span which has repercussion to their future learning.
Therefore, while screen time seems to be an easy way to keep them entertained and they may seem to be playing during the screen time, say NO to them. At the very least, we can hold off the exposure till the time when they can interact meaningfully with the programmes they are watching.
Fact 3: Beware of the dangers!
At the age of 6-12 months, the development of most babies is advanced enough for them to try moving around to get what they want. They’re either trying to climb out their cribs or trying to crawl around. They’re also grabbing hold of anything (such as the colourful scissors on the floor) that catches their attention. While parents tend to be more aware of the dangers surrounding their babies, there are little dangers around the house that you might want to take note of.
For example, the corners of your table are potential danger areas for your baby who may not be able to balance himself well. Imagine the injuries when he falls and knocks on the table edge. Also, if you don’t watch him closely, he might just fall off the bed/couch. This hurts not only for the baby, but for us as the parent as well.
While we don’t want to be helicopter parents and hover over our babies, we can afford to be a little more meticulous in ensuring our babies don’t sustain any unnecessary injuries when playing.
Fact 4: Let him explore
Yes, we’ve mentioned to watch out for the dangers. But this doesn’t mean you don’t let him explore. In fact, we all know that babies are inquisitive little cute things who become so fascinated with every new thing you expose them to.
Since they’re ready to crawl and move around by 6-12 months, why not create a safe space where they can explore their surroundings? To make things interesting, you can even consider let them explore different types of puzzles to further stimulate their brain development.
Fact 5: They may not need much
Unlike adults, babies don’t seem to mind repetition. Or at least, it takes longer for them to get bored of the same thing. So, we sometimes don’t need much to entertain our babies. To keep them entertained before their next nap, it may as well take a simple toy, like their milk bottle cover or even a teething toy. Who know, they may find creative ways to play with the seemingly “simple” toy that we give them?
Hence, if this is your first baby and you are wondering how to play with him, rest assured that it really doesn’t take much. At the end of the day, as we said, you’re the main toy. So, why not make the most use of yourself when playing with your baby? After all, it’s such a great joy to watch their development as we get fully present when playing with them.