Basic concepts

  • The child smiles and is completely absorbed
  • There is enough time and space to play
  • Setting allows for noise and mess. Children are free to move about as they please.
  • The activity is not necessarily educational
  • Children are free to experiment and learn on their own

Here are a few suggestions that favour child development and independence, while facilitating positive interplay between you and your little one.

Taking turns

  • Get baby’s attention. Call the child by name; make eye contact if you are nearby.
  • Talk and cuddle. Start an interaction. You can use simple phrases like “You’re so cute!”, “Good!”, “Bravo!”, and “My turn”. Imitate sounds, like those of a favourite toy. Use simple questions and commands. Try out different communication strategies and vary their use.
  • Wait for response. Give the child at least 10 seconds to respond. Eye contact is a good enough answer.
  • If you get a response, continue. Keep the interplay going. Stay within the child’s developmental level. If the child does not respond, don’t give up: be on the lookout for other opportunities to engage. Make these exchanges happen more often. Let them last longer if the child is interested.

Letting the child take the lead

Let the child choose which toy to play with and what to do with it, independently, without your help. The idea is to play together and take turns. The aim is to stimulate independent play. So what’s your role?

  • Make sure the baby is well positioned and has enough space to move. Allow her to explore whichever toy she chooses. If need be, show her how it works or what to do with it. You can also describe the toy by name, colour, function, and texture.
  • During play, praise the child and play with her. The important thing is to allow the child to make the decisions and to follow her lead.

Allowing baby to explore

You don’t have to hold the baby during play. Let the baby be as independent as possible, albeit in a safe space and within range of ability. For example, if you put the baby down on a safe surface rather than holding him in your arms, it becomes easier to make eye contact and to play face-to-face. Your hands are then free to make hand gestures or to move toys around. Baby will coo and respond to you. By the way, conversation is not essential; sometimes, quiet playtime can be just as stimulating.

Why it’s important

A bit of theory

Basic concepts

How to ...

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