By Raising Children Network
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Babies find out about the world, and their part in it, through play and exploration. You can help by providing play ideas that are fun, stimulating and safe.

Baby shaking a musical instrument
  • Baby Karaoke

    Want to do some music play, but can’t remember the words to your favourite songs? Sing with your child using Baby Karaoke.

    Choose a song

What to expect

As soon as babies discover that their arms and legs move, they’ll want to reach out and touch everything. Everything within arm’s reach will be treated as a toy, including pets and siblings! So begins your baby’s quest for discovery and information.

Even shaking a rattle can show babies that they can make things happen. This make them keen to see what else they can do.

Your baby might be busy tipping out drawers, emptying cereal onto the floor, pushing every button in sight and putting toast in the video – all just to find out how things work. Before long, baby will be climbing, walking, running and jumping – all just to test new physical skills.

As your baby gets older, your child will like leading the play and having you follow (until you decide it’s time to rein things in!).

There isn’t a clear moment when your baby becomes a toddler, although the term ‘toddler’ comes from your baby's distinctive early walking style. Many of the skills and interests of your baby and toddler will cross over between the two stages. And your toddler might like lots of the play ideas that a baby enjoys.

Ideas for playing with your baby

  • Make some noise together . Amuse your baby with all kinds of songs (loud and soft, fast and slow), bashing pots and pans (hit them softly, then hard), and having a go at animal sounds (and animal faces while you make the sound).
  • Encourage exploration . Choose or create a safe environment that encourages exploring and the development of skills such as sitting up, crawling, pulling up, cruising and walking.
  • Play simple games . Games like pat-a-cake and peekaboo are a real hoot for a giggling baby. Babies also love touching different parts of your face, and having you touch theirs. These games can do a lot to help your baby’s learning and movement skills. They also develop the turn-taking skills important for conversation.
  • Start reading to your baby. For babies, books are for more than just reading. They’re fascinating toys to chew on, play with in the bath, feel new textures in, and even look at. If you read together often, your baby will soon realise that this interesting activity is a lovely way of spending special time together. Point to the pictures once your baby is close to one year of age.
  • Follow your baby's lead . When playing with your baby, remember to follow your baby’s attention and interests.
Dangerous things look like fun to a baby. Now’s the time to think about making your home a safer place for a baby on the move. Read more about what to expect for baby’s safety. You could also watch our film clip on preventing accidents around the home.
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  • Last Updated 10-03-2010
  • Last Reviewed 02-11-2009
  • Berk, L. (1997). Child Development, 4th Ed. Massachusetts: Allyn & Bacon.

    Manning-Morton, J., & Thorp, M. (2003). Key times for play: The first three years. Philadelphia: Open University Press.