You are your child’s first and best toy! Your body is their world; your face, their map. Of course babies have basic needs to be addressed, but beyond those needs they have a drive to learn and develop. Your body feeds them, cares for them and keeps them safe, but your face, voice and interests give them information. Babies smile and coo first with their parents; looking for the response and slowly building on that experience to try the next. Parents are happy to oblige and create a game of their own that the baby responds to as well. This back and forth play between parent (s) and child is essential in the social emotional development of the child and essential too for the brain to make positive connections. It is also what bonds us as a family.
Toys are the instruments of learning. Babies need no other toy at first than their caregivers. We can tune into what our baby likes: our fingers for grasping, our bodies for rocking, swinging and transporting, our voices that sound high pitched and sweet, and our eyes and exaggerated facial expressions. We are mulit- purpose in our ability to entertain and teach our babies. All of these interactions with our baby are part of the learning process that is necessary for development. Therefore, you’re the most important toy your child will ever have.
How to play or interact with your child is not mine to say. Let your own baby’s actions and interests guide you. Each baby is an individual. Allowing him to initiate the play is a wonderful way to learn about your baby and offer him respect in the process. Follow your child’s lead… another concept many professionals recommend, but often is unclear. Observant parents can tell what their baby wants through their behavior, and note when the game is over. Too much stimulation may cause an abrupt change in the quality of the play. Note the change for next time; immature nervous systems need time to accept multiple stimulation.
T Barry Brazleton tells us, “As your try things out, let the
baby tell you whether you are right or not. When you’re on the
right track, her face will be placid and content, her body will
be relaxed and her responses will be organized and predictable.
When you are on the wrong track, she’ll be disorganized and
As your child grows, you can introduce toys to enhance the play you have developed. Rattles, ribbons, balls and mirrors are all great additions to his favorite toy, you