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First Year

Last Reviewed: March 2017

Playing With Your Baby

Tummy Time | Ways to Play

Play is very important for babies and children because it helps them to learn about themselves and the world around them. It also promotes their physical, cognitive (how your baby thinks), language, emotional and social development. Play is very important for babies and children because it helps them to learn about themselves and the world around them

You can help your baby develop her skills in these areas by anticipating when new skills will appear and providing learning experiences in different environments. Babies should be physically active several times throughout the day including tummy time, crawling, playing, rolling, reaching and grasping..

It's important to remember that every baby develops at a different rate and that growth and development charts are only guidelines. If you're concerned about how your baby's developing, speak to your doctor.

Tips for playing:

  • Create a safe place to play. Remove all dangerous things from your baby's reach when he's exploring his environment.
  • Give your baby toys that are simple and right for her age. You don't have to depend on expensive toys, some household objects make great toys.
  • Play with your baby one-on-one every day so he can share his discoveries with you.
  • Play with your baby down on the floor, face-to-face.
  • Give your baby a chance to play around other children.
  • Limit the time your baby spends in a playpen, car seat, a swing or anything that restrains her movements. Babies shouldn't be restrained for more than one hour at a time, except when sleeping.
  • Screen time (TV, computers, electronic games) is not recommended for babies under two years.
  • Let your baby move freely so he can develop his co-ordination and muscles.
  • Take your baby outdoors to play.
  • Supervise your baby while she's playing.
  • Watch your baby's signals for what he's interested in and respond. Remember that rest is also important for healthy brain development.

Basic safety standards

  • Supervise your baby closely, but don't restrain his movements.
  • Toys shouldn't have sharp edges or pieces that can be swallowed.
  • Toys should be light-weight, brightly coloured, non-toxic and have varying textures.
  • Toys don't have to be expensive, there are many great household items you can use such as: pots and pans, plastic containers, paper towel rolls, wooden spoons, etc.
  • Your baby needs a minimum of a 1.5 m X 2 m (5' X 7') mat on which to play and roll.
  • Your baby should play at ground level to avoid injuries.
  • Remember that your baby is also developing his memory. If he gets hurt, he may not be as eager to explore.

From the very beginning of your child's life, he's engaging in play with you. It might be as simple as following your face as you move it slowly from one side of his to the other or listening to your voice as you sing to him during his diaper change.

For more information:

Region of Peel — Public Health   
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Caledon residents call free of charge at 905-584-2216
To speak with a Public Health Nurse

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Revised: Wednesday June 28 2017

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