Playing with your baby

Playing with your baby is one way your baby learns. Being played with helps your baby feel safe. And playing with your baby is how you get to learn what is special about them.

 

Play teaches your baby how the world works and how to get along with people. It prepares them for the future. For dads (and mums), playing with your baby an important part of beings parents.

How do newborns play?

 

For a baby, playing is about being looked at, being touched and talked. A dad knows they’re doing it right, if is enjoying it.

 

Examples of playing with a very young baby might be for you to make BIG expressions at the baby, like smiling or raising your eyebrows or going booga booga, sticking your tongue out or playing peek-a-boo. They might smile, they might just be watching you, but they know you are playing with them.

 

How you play with the baby the important part

 

Your baby needs your attention. Giving them lots of smiling attention helps them thrive.

Paying with baby often means following their lead. A dad can:

  • Watch and let the baby do want they want to do.

  • Help them if they get stuck.

  • Respond to them with a smile or a clap or some other way of showing that you like them and and are there for them.

Mums and dads tend to play differently with a baby

When it comes to play, mums tend to be:

  • more inward

  • quieter

  • sheltering.

 

Dads tend to be:

  • more active play

  • might be a little teasing

  • let the child go further before pulling them back

 

These roles may be reversed in some families.

The that that the parents play different from each other is good for the baby. There is something about this that helps with the baby’s brain development. And research shows that a dad playing with his baby results in the child do well when they are first introduced to things like maths.

Tips for playing with a baby

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It is good for your baby when you:

  • Watch for their reaction when you do something

    • show them that you are happy with them

  • If the baby shows their interest and reaches for something, explain what it is

  • Follow your baby’s lead

    • if they are looking at something, look at it too, and talk to them about it or show it to them, or let them show it to you

  • Give your baby a toy (or anything that’s safe) and then see what they do with it

    • it’s okay if they don’t do it the “right way”, let them do it their way

  • Encourage your baby to give things a try, even if it’s as simple as smiling or reaching for something

  • If they are doing something you don't want them to do, try to distract them with another "fun" thing to do
  •  

    ​You are pleased with them

Any time can be play time. Looking your baby in the eye and talking to them while you are changing the nappy is playtime.  

 

Going deeper into play.

 

Your baby’s attention span

 

Young babies have a short attention span. A young baby won’t be able to keep up with play sessions for long. You need to learn to read their signals notice when they’ve had enough. These signals are:

  • Looking away from you

  • Making certain sounds you will come to recognise

  • Fidgeting and acting like they are frustrated or upset

 

When your baby gives you any of these signals, give them a break by looking away or stop doing what you are doing. Sometimes they will want to go straight back to what you were doing, or they may be over it for the time being. Play is about watching them and getting an idea of what they want to do and what they are capable of. Babies are great communicators – so if they don't yet have words, a dad has to watch for their signals.

 

Where you play with your baby

Your baby won’t be able to concentrate if there are things about that are distracting:

  • Noise or sounds, like you talking to someone else or someone talking to you

  • The tv or radio on an make it hard for a baby

  • When you are on your phone you are not with your baby

 

Babies learn through repetition

 

Babies and toddlers often want to do the same things over and over and over. They might  want you to read the same book again and again. That’s good, they are learning even though you may be over it. Early learning is all about repetition. One-off things don’t make much of an impression on a baby. By doing things or hearing things many times, they learn what things mean.

Playing with the baby is one of the most important part of being a great dad.

Talking is part of play

Just because your baby can’t talk , doesn’t mean they aren’t listening and learning from you. By listening to you talk, your baby is learning to talk themself. Your baby will “talk” to you by making sounds long before they are capable of saying words.

 

By talking to your baby and explaining what you are both doing when you are with them – they feel they have your attention, and they are learning heaps.