Playtime is about more than just fun and games. It’s a way for your baby to learn and develop and it’s an important part of the bond that develops between the two of you.
Working in playtime
It may not seem like something you need to schedule, but you’ll be surprised how quickly the days can fly by when there’s a baby in the house. Use these tips to work playtime into your baby’s schedule each day.
Try tummy time
Tummy time is important in your baby's development and is one of the best types of play for babies ages zero to three months. It helps her strengthen her neck and arms while gaining control of her upper body -- all the things she needs to sit and eventually stand. Make sure to work in a little bit of tummy time every day to help your baby get the most benefit. Many babies aren't big fans of this exercise, but don't worry if your baby proves to be part of that crowd. You can turn tummy time into fun time by using it for play. Get down on your baby's level to get face to face. Make faces, sing songs, tickle her and talk to her. You can also use floor toys such as unbreakable mirrors and textured mats to help your baby pass the time.
To help your baby tolerate tummy time, try it at a time when she's well rested, like after a nap. Don't do it right after she eats -- a full belly may make the activity very uncomfortable.
Instill a love for music into your baby at an early age. Put on some good tunes (anything works here, but you may find that your baby has a favorite) and dance and sing while you hold your baby. Can't carry a tune? Got no rhythm? No worries! Your baby isn't going to mind at all.
This is also a perfect activity for fussy times. Put on something soothing and rock back and forth while you sing softly to your babe. It may work to calm both of you down. You may want to make a habit of this activity just before nap-time to help your baby calm down and get ready for sleep.
As baby grows, encourage participation and create songs of your own. Assemble a kitchen drum set with pots, pans and wooden spoons. Shakers, bells and xylophone are all wonderful introductory instruments for your little one.
Arts and crafts
Getting in the habit of getting creative as a family through arts and crafts is a fun way to explore your inner artist. Plus, baby can experience new textures, shapes and colors, while enjoying getting messy and playing with mom and dad. Though baby may be a bit too young to scribble or fingerpaint a picture that she can be proud of, there are still plenty of art-inspired activities she can try. Clay, stamps and playing with pieces of ribbon are always fun.
Feeling a little crafty yourself? Make a painting play spot on the table by taping a large piece of plastic wrap down. Next, squirt several dollops of paint on the plastic and cover it with another sheet. Tape the top sheet down to seal the paint within the plastic pieces and let your little one loose. She'll be able to move the paint around with her fingers, making designs and mixing colors. When she's all done, just peel it up and throw it away!
Try to keep your baby on a schedule by having playtime around the same time each day.