The importance of play for newborns is easy to forget. Newborns have such a short awake time, it can feel tricky to catch them alert enough to stimulate their cognitive function. But the truth is that play is the occupation of children – a child’s work. A baby’s main tasks in the first three years of their life, are to master the world through movement, to develop a great self-esteem, to learn language and other cognitive skills, to feel mastery and a sense of accomplishment. To achieve these goals a baby works very hard and he does this work through play.
Play can entail toys and books or may simply involve interactions with others. But you are your baby’s favourite toy and you will quickly notice that you get more squeals of delight and joy when you are playing with your baby than when he is left to play with a toy alone. When your baby experiences enjoyment, his neurons fire in a way that stimulates way more brain development and growth.
So before you rush out and buy expensive toys, bear in mind that you are really all your baby needs. Having said that, if you are looking for ideas to keep your baby playing happily that also has purposeful value, this list will help you choose toys that work well for your baby from birth to the age of three months:
Controlling eyes and visual focus
To develop visual skills, it is worth making or buying a black, white and red mobile, to hang over the change mat.
Learn about body schema
Touch is the best way for babies to learn about their body. A great play activity for this age is baby massage.
Identify where sounds come from and what they are
Rattles and simple toys with a noise are lovely tools for this age. Encourage your baby to identify where the sound comes from.
Controlling hands and arms
Objects that have a handle that is small enough to be grasped can be given to your baby to encourage voluntary grip, which emerges towards the end of this stage.
Develop back muscles
Tummy time is vital but some babies resist the position. Aside from regular exposure to tummy time, you can invest in a play mat that has lovely tactile and visual attachments so your baby is playing and engaged while strengthening his back muscles.