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Play The Work & Joy of Babies

Babies are hardwired to learn and thrive through play. Interactive play is a crucial part of early childhood development and parents are, by nature, their child's first and most important playmates!

When you engage your baby in play, you encourage brain growth at a time when your baby's brain is most plastic - the first three years of life. Playful interactions with your child impact the actual physiological development of his brain, encouraging the formation of neurological connections. The best playthings for babies are open-ended toys that foster creative interaction between you and your baby.

Did you know?

  • 85% of a child's brain develops between birth and age three
  • The brain grows more in infancy than at any other time
  • Much of the brain's wiring does not happen until after birth
*Source: ZerotoThree.org

A Guide to Playing With Your Baby in the First Year

Birth 3 Months

A newborn baby may be sleepy in the first month, but he is keenly aware of your voice. Speak, read and sing to him often. Young babies are both stimulated and soothed by touch. Baby massage, caresses and loving snuggles are all ways to help your baby feel safe, comforted and comfortable.

After the first month, your baby will be much more awake and aware. Babies this age love to look at their parents' eyes and expressions, so make sure to spend lots of time face to face. Expose your baby to toys that feature different textures, rattling sounds, music and visual stimuli. To help your baby's eyes learn to focus and track, hold a small toy in front of him and slowly move it from side to side. Always remember to follow your baby's lead in play. If he is well-rested and rapt with attention, play on! If he seems fussy, take a rest from activity and spend your time with him in a quieter, more soothing way.


3-6 Months

Between three and six months, a baby's newfound ability to bat at, grasp and manipulate objects with her hands enables her to make some of the fun happen on her own! Give her lots of toys that encourage her to reach, grasp and transfer objects from one hand to the other. Babies love to look at faces, so offer her the opportunity to explore her own image in a mirror. Make sure that she gets lots of supervised tummy time to help her build the muscles she will need later for crawling and walking. Your baby will take delight in games like peek-a-boo, silly faces and funny sounds. Your efforts to engage and entertain will elicit the giggles and squeals that make a parent's day!


6-9 Months

Between six and nine months, babies start to develop fine motor skills and acquire greater control over their body and their environment. Now is a great time to offer him toys that encourage stacking as well as putting objects in and taking them out. Place toys a bit beyond his reach when he is settled on his hands and knees to encourage him to rock back and forth in place and to eventually crawl. A baby's tender gums may be quite sore now as new teeth begin to poke through so give him lots of teethers and toys that are safe for him to chew.


9-12 Months

By nine months, a baby's coordination is improving in leaps and bounds. She can sit and reach for things and catch a ball rolled to her. She is also very socially aware and interactive now. She might imitate your actions in play, look in the direction in which you are looking and play peek-a-boo. Your on-the-move baby will enjoy push and pull toys along with toys that challenge her new understanding of big vs. little. Make sure to talk with her about the toys with which she plays, pointing out colors, shapes, causes and effects.


Playing with your baby does more than just help her developing brain grow and thrive. Your play together builds trust and self-esteem, inspires creativity and gives you each insight into the other's nature. These special playtimes impart memories and lessons which will last a lifetime. As you play with one another, you teach your baby that the world can be an exciting and nurturing place where caring people offer encouragement and support, that mistakes lead to discoveries, that perseverance leads to success, that love makes a person feel happy and safe and that laughter and fun are their own rewards. Play on!


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