The importance of play, in promoting healthy development and sleep.
The first three years of a child’s life are a critically influential time. There is so much going on when it comes to their development, and these changes happen very quickly. Sometimes these changes can cause disruptions to their sleep - Utilising play is a great way to work through these disruptions and ensure your child’s sleep gets back on track.
Play, also plays a huge part in the healthy development of your child’s social & language skills, spatial awareness, emotional intelligence, gross motor development and cognitive function.
Let’s look at play from birth to 4 years.
The first 6 months
During the first 6 months of your child’s life, they rely heavily on the closeness and responsiveness they receive from their primary caregivers. Newborns need a lot of physical contact, eye contact and to be constantly acknowledged through speech, affection and having all of their needs met. Babies in the first 6 months thrive off predictable routines and safe environments – this is how they build trust with their world.
When it comes to play at this age, all your baby really needs is you! Giggling, cuddling, learning about their environment and supporting their motor development with age appropriate activities is key. Tummy time is very important in the first 3 months as it helps your baby build the foundation and strength to be able to roll, sit, crawl and even walk in the future. Singing, pulling funny faces, playing peekaboo and using basic household items like mirrors, pots and pans are all amazing and affordable ways to play with your baby. Babies at this age don’t have problem-solving skills and can be easily overstimulated, so ensure you balance out play time with quiet time and watch those awake windows.
6 – 12 months
There are huge leaps in your child’s gross motor skills between 6-12 months. Many babies start sitting, crawling, pulling to stand and some even start walking! The key with all of these milestones is giving your child the space to explore their body safely and comfortably. Babies at this age learn from repetition and are developing basic problem-solving skills. They learn best when given tasks or playing games where they are challenged just enough, but don’t become frustrated – this help them to make sense of the world.
Floor play is highly recommended, and using a play mat can be a great way to let your child practise their new skills. We also recommend The Zonky. The Zonky is a children’s modular play sofa made from easy to clean, premium, high-density foam which means little ones who are keen to practise their climbing, pulling up and rolling around can do so safely!
Just make sure your baby is supervised at all times when playing, even on a soft surface…