When I was pregnant I didn’t think about playing with Nancy as a baby. I wasn’t expecting too much from her until she was a few more months old to be honest. What I have realised though is that babies like to play from the start and it is all about their development. I thought I would share with you some of the things we have been doing. Really these are things we have been doing from 6 weeks onwards, although looking, talking and singing are things you can do from the start. Anything you do with your baby can be fun and playful.
Singing and Talking
As I mentioned in a previous post, I found it hard to talk to Nancy as I am a quiet person and initially I found it quite difficult. Singing was one way to communicate with Nancy that I enjoyed. I said in my last post I needed to sing lullabies, well I have started to do this, and to sing with Nancy at nappy changes and when getting dressed/undressed, she loves this interaction and she will smile, and now at 11 weeks she will fling her arms and legs around excitedly,especially songs we sing often. I started with Nursery rhymes and have now ventured into musical numbers and chart songs. She loves high pitch singing, which is rather unfortunate as I do not have the best voice.
Talking with Nancy has improved over the last few weeks, it seems more natural now and she also responds more which I think makes it easier for me. I chat about what we are doing, what we have done/are going to do, and general chit-chat really. She also loves me copying her sounds and she delights in trying to copy me.
Cloth books are a great first toy
Looking at Things
From early on Nancy has liked looking at objects, especially bright coloured or contrasting patterns. You don’t necessarily need any expensive toys, Nancy used to spend ages looking at the bed rails, and currently appears to be in love with our shiny metal door handles. A friend gave me some cloth books which are designed for babies, they have contrasting colour patterns in them and pictures of faces, which she loves to look at. One thing sure to calm Nancy down is walking around the house and looking at different objects in all the different rooms. She also likes the look of the TV but I am trying to limit her watching this!
The beloved door handle!
We were very nervous bathing Nancy to start with, and initially she didn’t seem to like it and so we adopted a sheep–dip approach. What we found out after discussing it with a few people on twitter, is that a deeper bath is better, making the water warmer rather than tepid, and ensuring she could feel the sides of the bath to make her feel secure, were all things which meant bath time was more enjoyable. She loved her baths as soon as we adopted this approach. As soon as she was too big for the little bath, we started to get in the big bath with her. She absolutely loves this, the depth, and the freedom to stretch out, and float around, is delightful to her. Water is definitely soothing and relaxing, and a great way to bond. We are going to get some bath toys now as well to make it even more fun.
When Nancy was born, we were given a plethora of soft toys which I didn’t think would see the light of day for ages. As it is, Nancy loves looking at the soft toys, and in the last few weeks (from 9 weeks onwards) she has taken a fancy to a few of them, and will touch, grab and also try to eat them. We now take a few of these wherever we go and she loves to play with them now which is rather adorable to watch. She also likes looking at these when we put them around her play mat and when we put her in her cot to play (we are getting her used to it at the moment!). We have a few that jingle and jangle too and she likes the sounds they make too.
We have had a play mat since Nancy was about 3 weeks old. She initially really enjoyed just looking at the toys overhead, and around her. She has in the last few weeks learnt how to hit the toys and now she really enjoys being on there. We put other toys around her for her to grab, and look at, as well as one of the picture cloth books we were given. It’s great for when you need to put her down for a few mins, but she also loves it when you sit next to her and chat to her whilst she plays on the mat.
Our play mat and toys
Nancy likes to ‘stand’ on your lap if you hold her, and also likes to sit up – she will now push herself up to try to sit up now too. She also likes us to hold her so she can look over our shoulders and walk around the house. Tummy time is important for all babies and the health visitor told me to do this every day for a few minutes, at a time when Nancy hasn’t just eaten, and is in a good mood. Nancy enjoys being on her tummy but only for a minute or two. It gives her a different perspective and a new challenge in lifting her head. I sometimes do this on her playmat and sometimes when I am changing her we will have a little go. I also like to take Nancy’s hand and show her how to grab, touch or hit things. I don’t know if it helps but I feel I am teaching her to use her hands! She has recently found her hands and loves to stuff them in her mouth. (One word of warning – wipe them frequently! I don’t know what it is, but there is always blue fluff all over her hands!)
We also enjoy playing games such as peepo!, tapping Nancy on the nose, wiggling hands and feet, and blowing raspberries. She really enjoys these and will giggle away. She also likes it if I make funny faces at her, which is a great laugh, but a bit inappropriate out in public.
Out and About
To start with, Nancy did not like going out. She hated going in her car seat, and she didn’t appear to like the pram. However, the motion was a favourite and she would be calm after a few minutes of movement. The last few weeks she has really started to enjoy the pram, and loves looking around her. She especially loves shadows caused by trees overhead and looking at the sky. We have ventured out to the local shops, the local park and the library and she has really enjoyed these trips. She also likes having toys around her when she is in the pram, and in the car, she has lots of things dangling from the seat in front of her to occupy her when we are on a long journey.
So these are the main things we have been doing at the moment. I’d be interested to know what you have been doing for play and development with your children. Do you have any other suggestions?