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Infant Playtime

Playtime Toy and Activities

Once you have chosen the right time and created a safe environment, the next decisions are about the toys and playtime activities.
A couple of good rules of thumb are:
  • Less is more. Infants can quickly become overwhelmed with too many choices.
  • You don't need to purchase toys in order for your baby to have a good time playing. Pots and pans with a wooden spoon provide hours of entertainment.
  • Think simple. One of the best objects to have on hand is a simple small ball. It moves, therefore it is interesting, and it is large enough so that it cannot be swallowed. Simply moving the ball back and forth in front of your baby can help develop:


    • Fine-motor skills
    • Spatial orientation
    • Understanding cause and effect
    • Hand/eye coordination.


Playtime and Language

In general, babies learn their native language(s) by watching and listening to the people around them speak, and then mimicking those sounds.
Regularly engaging in verbal play will help support language development. You can do this by incorporating singing, reading, and talking into infant playtime. For example, you might:
  • Choose games that encourage your baby to make sounds. Repeat sounds and let your baby repeat yours. For example, you can make the vowel sounds, and have your baby repeat them -- "Oh-Oh-Oh, A-A-A, E-E-E." You may feel funny making these sounds, but your baby will be learning them from you.
  • Sing songs, like "The Wheels on the Bus." Do the motions of the song with your baby's arms, and legs. This teaches your baby descriptive words from "round and round," to "up and down," to "clink, clink, clink."
  • Play peek-a-boo, either by covering your face with your hands or covering an object with a blanket, then asking where that object is. This helps develop new vocabulary.
  • Play anything that involves turn taking. Turn taking is a building block of conversation, so learning the back and forth pattern is a great way to help with language development. This includes things like:


    • Patty-cake -- have your baby copy your clapping (or at least try)
    • Taking turns tapping on pots and pans -- doing patterns like "tap-tap-tap" fast or slow, and so on.


(Click Help Your Baby Talk and Language Development in Children to learn more about language development in infants.)
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