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The Beginners Guide to Playing with your Baby

The Beginners Guide to Playing with your Baby

  • Why play is so important for your babies development

    • “Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children.” quoted by Kenneth R. Ginsburg
    • As a pediatric occupational therapist, I understand how play impacts development. I want to help teach you how you can feel confident in playing with your baby. Engaging with your baby and children through play can be lots of fun!!
    • I am also a first-time mom who is learning how to manage to be a mom, a wife, and taking care of the house while feeling like I can be successful with playing with my son and helping him to be the best he can be! I understand living a busy life and I will show you how play can be simple and fun! You won’t have to search Pinterest for ideas that you don’t have supplies for and feel like you have to be the “perfect” mom. I will offer a variety of play ideas with simple household items, engaging toy suggestions, and also fun creative ways to play!

What does Playing with Your Baby Look Like?

  • Babies change SO MUCH during their first year of life

  •  I fully understand how fast little ones change now with having my own 11-month-old son. Play will look a little different for each stage of development for your baby. I will do my best to provide you with play activities for each of month of your babies life so you can feel confident at each stage. Each month will bring about new and fun play experiences for you to be able to bond with your baby!
  • If you are looking for amazing baby play resources right now, check out these awesome play ideas from CanDoKiddo!! 
  • Play does not have to complicated and take hours to set up activities. Simple play can be fun and engaging for both you and your baby!
  • I will help create fun engaging play experiences using items you will most likely have around your house as well as recommend high-quality toys that we have personally used that our family and son loves!!

How to get started with Playing with your Baby

    • Depending on the age of your baby there can be a variety of items to get started playing with your baby, but really you don’t need much!
      • For newborns and young babies, a blanket or playmat is a great starting place!! Tummy time is so important at this age!! This is a similar playmat that we used with our son!
      • If you are struggling with Tummy Time check out the book Begin with a Blanket from CanDoKiddo or even check out her Tummy Time Course!! She gives you fun ways to work on Tummy Time to help decrease crying.
      • For babies who are learning how to sit, a pillow to help with sitting balance and vertical upright toys to promote reaching are great! Check out this awesome Playnest that provides baby with a cushion around them to work on sitting balance safely!
      • For babies who are standing and cruising finding toys to help them pull up to stand such as an activity table is a fun one!
      • Board Books that are touchy-feely are a great toy option for babies of all ages!! Check out this one about dinosaurs!! 
    • Below are some awesome books from CanDoKiddo that can help you find simple play activities for babies of all ages and stages!! She gives you simple play set up with items you will most likely have around your house!! These resources are a lifesaver!! Check them out below by clicking on the picture!!

Tips for Success for Playing with Your Baby

  • Have FUN!! Take moments when you are playing with your baby to be intentional with them. Talk to them, make funny noises, be silly, dance around, and smile!
  • Follow your babies/child’s lead. Give them a toy to play with and see how they respond. If they are happy and smiling keep engaging, if they start to cry or become upset find something else they may enjoy.
  • Learn to read your baby’s signals. If they start to get fussy, look away, yawn, or become upset. This is probably not the best time to play. Figure out what they are needing and meet their needs first.
  • Look at your play space. Is it safely set up for baby to play? If you are on the ground is it safe with a blanket and some toys? If they are starting to stand or open up things, is your area safe for baby to explore?


Common Questions/FAQ About Playing with your Baby

  • How do I play with a newborn?

    • If you just had a newborn baby or you are expecting, congrats!! This is such a new and exciting time to bond with your baby!! The newborn phase is all about learning your new role as a mom/parent and worrying about sleep and eating. At this stage you can start to work on tummy time! Check out this post for awesome tummy time ideas! 
  • How do I play with a 3-month-old?

    • At this age, your baby will better be able to start to grasp toys and do more belly up play activities and reaching/swiping for toys. This is a great time to use a playmat with hanging toys/rattles. Other fun toys to use at this age are rattles that go on their hands and feet to help baby look to midline. Check out this awesome guide for 3 to 4 month olds!!
  • How do I play with a 6-month-old?

    • Around the 6 month age mark your baby may start to work on sitting up on their own, but it is still important to work on tummy time to help their upper body get strong to work on crawling. It is great to work on sitting balance with cushions around them with rattles and toys for them to explore. As they get stronger with sitting,  placing toys up for them to have to raise their arms and reach for toys hanging up high will help them work on their upper arm strength. Don’t forget about tummy time, continue to incorporate lots of tummy time with books, sensory bags, and water fun to help get them strong and ready for crawling.
  • How do I play with a 9-month-old?

    • Around this age your little one with start to work on pulling up to stand and cruising along furniture. This brings them upright even more and it is great to place toys up higher for them to go and reach for. Place rattles, music toys, or books on a couch that baby can pull up to and reach for or use an activity table that is stable for them to work on pulling up to stand.
  • How do I play with a 12-month-old?

    • 12 months old is a big milestone!! You no longer have a baby, but officially a toddler! You and your little one have now been playing and learning from each other for one whole year! I never really believed it before becoming a mom myself, but the time sure does fly by quickly!! At this age your little one will be into a lot! They will want to pull out all the toys/items from drawers and make tons of messes. This is typical and messy play is good! They will be stronger and have the ability to stand on their own and even may take some first steps. They will want to put things into containers, so posting activities with shape sorters and coins are great to work on this! They could use a push toy to work on walking independently.
  • Tummy Time: How do I get my little one to enjoy tummy time?

    • Some ideas that helped my little one enjoy tummy time was doing it while laying on mom or dad! He loved having more connection with us! We also used high contrast visual cards, music toys, board books, and even water play!
    • If you are struggling with Tummy Time check out the book Begin with a Blanket from CanDoKiddo or even check out her Tummy Time Course!! She gives you fun ways to work on Tummy Time to help decrease crying.
  • Sensory Play: What is Sensory Play & How do I do Sensory Play with my Baby?

    • Sensory Play: This is play that involves using the babies senses to explore and learn about their environment. For example for newborns and 3-month-old, the feeling of soft textures such as a blanket, the sound of a rattle shaking, or the crinkle of a toy, is allowing your little one to use various senses to learn about their environment. As your baby gets older you can incorporate more sensory play such as with eating solid foods with messy play, using sensory bags to engage with new textures for tactile senses or doing some fun water play! I will be adding some of our favorite sensory play ideas to this post, so keep your eye out for specific ideas!
  • Baby Gear: Should I use Baby Gear with my baby for playing?

    • This question comes up a lot as there are a ton of baby gear products on the market today. Overall, I am not going to tell you yes or no to using baby gear because I don’t know what is best for your family or lifestyle. I will do my best to provide you with facts and safety information to help you provide a safe environment for your baby to play. As I work to add more content to specific pieces of baby gear, check out this amazing FREE resource from CanDoKiddo about her Baby Gear Information! 
  • Toys: What are good toys for my baby to play with?

    • It can be overwhelming when looking at all of the toys available for babies and kids at the store. How do I know my baby will like this toy and be able to grow with it? I will be adding blog posts about specific toy recommendations for each stage of baby development to help you, but for now please check out these toys for each stage!
      • Newborn to 3 months old: We really loved our playmat, high contrast visuals with books, textures, and tags with crinkly paper.
      • 3 to 6 months old: We loved our music piano and inflatable water mat to help with tummy time, rattle maracas to work on grasping, the banana teether to help with teething, and this rattle and teether in one.
      • 6 to 9 months old: At this age your little one will start to be on the move a lot more! They will be rolling, working on sitting up, crawling, and working on pulling up to stand. This is an age with a lot of gross motor changes! We used this activity table and activity cube to help our son with pulling up to stand and he still enjoys both of these at 12 months old!
      • 9 to 12 months old: Now your little one will be moving all over to explore and learn about their environment. We loved using his wagon walker to help with standing and providing vestibular input!
    • Check out these other great resources from Toy Ideas!!

The Last Thing You Need to Know about Playing with your Baby

  • Have fun! Playing with your baby shouldn’t be stressful or become this comparison game on social media. Being a mom or a parent is hard work, you have so many new responsibilities. Allow play time in your home to be engaging with your little one! Before you know it they will grow up in the blink of an eye!
  • Please let me know in the comments below if you find this information helpful or if there are any other questions you have about playing with your baby!


The Beginners guide to playing with your baby

The beginners guide to playing with your baby

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