Let’s Play: How Your Child Learns and Grows Through Play from Birth to Three

Source: Our friends at Zero To Three

Jan 12, 2018,

By Rebecca Parlakian and Sarah S. MacLaughlin


When you make time to play each day, you are giving your child a big dose of love and learning.

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children,  1 Wise words from Mister Rogers. Play is serious learning. It’s more than just fun. It’s a very important part of growing up. And it happens from day one of a child’s life. Even small babies play. Here’s what you can expect as your child grows and develops.play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”

Birth to 12 Months

Babies this young don’t need toys to play. They love simple exchanges with you.

What She Can Do

Your baby uses her body to explore. She makes discoveries and learns largely through her senses. Baby uses her eyes, ears, nose, hands, and mouth (especially her mouth!) as tools to explore her surroundings.

What’s She’s Learning

As your baby grows, she will also begin to reach and grasp. This builds her eye-hand coordination. She’s starting to understand cause and effect. She is learning that shaking the rattle will produce a fun sound. Your baby is also learning to communicate. By the time your baby is about 8 months old, she will have lots of ways to communicate. She may “talk” using gazes, gestures, facial expressions, and sounds. This is her way of telling what she’s thinking and feeling, and what interests her.                                                                                                                                                                                                         OLJ Studio / Shutterstock 

How You Can Help

You don’t need toys to play with babies this young! They love simple exchanges. Try peek-a-boo or holding her while dancing. You can also coo and “talk” to your baby. Imitate her sounds and wait for a response. Encourage her to copy you, too. Remember that it’s perfectly normal for her to put toys in her mouth. Offer only baby-safe objects to explore and watch babies closely as they play.

Click HERE to read more about play between 12 and 36 months

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