How to help your baby learn through play
Playing helps new babies to learn about the world around them, stimulates their senses & helps development
Here are some of the best games and play ideas to help your baby’s development from birth to three months.
How to play with your baby
Your baby starts learning from the moment of birth. They are growing and getting to know their surroundings, at the same time as forging vital connections between the billions of cells in their brain – and you are the very best teacher.
There are some simple things you can do to encourage your baby to learn and develop, by stimulating senses such as sight and hearing and encouraging early language skills and movement.
How your baby sees
Newborn babies can only focus their eyes at a distance of about 25cm, and can’t see much detail, but their vision will improve and they’ll start focusing on more distant objects.
You’ll start to see them track movement too. "As their vision improves, your baby will enjoy looking at patterns and shapes, as well as moving objects like mobiles and glitter balls," says Boots Parenting Club health visitor Angela Davy.
Tips to stimulate baby's vision
• Give your baby brightly coloured toys or black and white toys to look at – babies love the contrasting shades
• Put a mobile over their cot so they can enjoy watching it
• Give your baby an age-appropriate toy that contains a mirrored surface so they can look at their reflection
How your baby learns about you
You are the centre of your baby’s world right now, and they’re fascinated with your face.
"Babies have a strong desire to be with and to get to know their mums," says Boots Parenting Club health visitor Angela Davy. "The way they do this is to carefully study their parents’ features."
Your baby will also start to show an interest in voices. At about two months, they may turn their head towards you or gurgle when you speak to them.
Tips to boost baby's learning and language
• Hold your baby close and sing nursery rhymes. They’ll find it reassuring to listen to your voice, and it will help with bonding
• Talk to them in a sing-song voice. Even at this early stage, this will help stimulate their language development
• It’s never too early to start learning body parts. Touch your nose, then their nose, and say ‘nose’. Repeat this with other parts of the face. Your baby will soon start reaching out for you
How your baby develops physically
As a newborn, your baby will be floppy and unable to support their head. But as the weeks go by, they build muscle and gain more control. At about three months, they may even be able to lift their head for a few moments when lying on their front.
They may also try to reach out and grasp objects. "At this stage, babies are very sensitive to textures, sounds, movement and touch," says Angela.
Tips to help baby's physical development
• Let them experience the feel of varying textures, such as water or your hair. You can also give them toys with different textures to touch
• Put bright, colourful, age-appropriate toys near or above them to encourage reaching out