There are lots of different ways to play; indoors and outdoors, messy play and non-messy play, excitedly and loudly or calmly and quietly.

Your little one’s interests will vary as they get older and depending on how they are feeling or who they are with, so will the way they play. They may want to chase a ball or play with a cardboard box.

Every day is an opportunity for you and your little one to have fun exploring together, so here are three easy ways to play and learn with your baby:

1. Funny Faces!

From birth, your baby will try to communicate with you - like sticking out their tongue, crying or cooing.

Spot a time when your baby wants to chat and play a game of copycat. Encouraging them to use their facial muscles, will help them begin to communicate with you more.

Lay your little one in your lap or on a blanket on the floor and face them. Try making facial expressions that they can see clearly - like smiling, raising your eyebrows and sticking out your tongue - and make sounds they can hear clearly, like blowing raspberries, squealingor cooing. Before long they’ll be making the same faces or sounds too – then YOU can copy THEM!  

2. Discover Outdoors!

Simple outdoor activities like going back and forth on a swing, stomping in crunchy leaves, or splashing in puddles, are all great sensory experiences.

Being outside together is a brilliant way for your baby to explore nature with you as their guide. Whether you’re in your garden, the local park or at the beach, you could chat about what you can hear, smell, see and feel.

Make sure your little one is safe as you have fun exploring together – and don’t forget to wash your hands when you get home!

3. On the Move!

Encouraging your baby to be active is an important part of their day-to-day physical development.

Even young babies like to be on the move. Whether it’s gentle rocking from side to side during a cuddle, or excitedly moving their whole body. You could help to strengthen your baby’s muscles by having a go at tummy time.

If your baby can hold their own head, put a blanket on the floor and lay out some objects for them to reach. Join them down on the floor and have a chat. They may only like it for a few seconds to begin with, so you could also lay them on their backs and try gently pedalling their legs up and down.

If your baby is a little older, you could build a cosy den together. Gather a few soft toys, books, cushions and a blanket.

Have fun encouraging them to crawl under a blanket or climb over cushions, as these actions are great for improving their balance and coordination. Smaller movements are good to practise too, like turning the pages of a book or holding a soft toy, as these actions help to strengthen your baby’s hand muscles and grip.

Remember - babies reach movement stages at different ages, so try not to compare your little one to others and stay with them as you play. Babies learn new skills so quickly and all of a sudden, they will roll over or start climbing when you least expect it

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