Real-life pregnancy and parenting stories set in Singapore, from mums in Singapore. Welcome to our SingaporeMotherhood blog series, where we get local bloggers to share their motherhood experiences – from the awesomeness of seeing that +ve, to the pitter-patter of first steps, to the joys and frustrations of bringing kiddo up in the little red dot. This month, June Yong of mamawearpapashirt shares how you can play with your baby.
Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul. – Friedrich Froebel
No child is ever too young to play. All kids were born with an innate ability to play. Play is intrinsically motivated, and is something that comes naturally and doesn’t require any teaching (or nagging, thank God).
Adults on the other hand often forget to play, due to our everyday responsibilities, stress levels, and lack of time.
But it’s important to play and interact with your young baby, as it’s one of the key ways to promote bonding and help the child feel loved and secure.
It also encourages cognitive development and language capabilities. Stanley Greenspan, author of Building Healthy Minds, wrote this:
“Your joyful interactions with your baby may spur brain growth in those areas that involve emotional expression and signaling, which in turn facilitates her ability to fall in love and build an increasingly complex relationship with you. Over time, your loving, nurturing relationship will foster your child’s verbal abilities and problem-solving and reasoning skills, and the development of parts of the brain that support language.”
Here are 10 simple ways you can play with your baby that makes use of all her different senses. And by the way, they cost absolutely free because the main toy is Y-O-U! (Haha, plus whatever odd tools you can find around the house.) These are good to go for babies from as young as three to four weeks old.
As your baby coos and babbles, repeat what she voices back to her. Watch and see how she reacts. Stick your tongue out, and see if she copies you. Babies are known to be naturals at mimicking expressions and certain sounds. Reverse the roles. Watch and observe baby when he’s ready for play. Then copy his cooing or babbling sounds.
2) Beat the drums
Sing a drum-beat “bum bum bum-bum-badum” and clap your baby’s hands or feet along to the rhythm. Or better yet, grab a saucepan and a wooden spoon, and get into the groove.
This must be a perennial favourite among parents with little kids. Try variations such as hiding baby’s favourite toy behind a cushion, and then bringing it out again.
Make different faces at baby, such as opening your eyes wide in surprise and making a gasping sound, or rounding your mouth and making an “ooh” sound. Watch how she reacts.
5) Where is the sound coming from?
Take a baby rattle and shake it at the left side of baby’s face. Wait till baby turns his head towards the sound, then say “Ahh, you found me!” Shift the rattle to a different position, and try again.
6) What’s that smell?
Grab an orange or lemon from the fridge, cut a small piece and wave it before your baby’s nose. See if she opens her eyes wide in surprise and wonder. Try a different fruit or herb the next day.
7) Touch and feel
Collate different textures for your baby, such as cotton wool, paper, a feather, and so on, and take turns to place these on her face or arm. Use words to describe the texture like, “Oh, isn’t this soft?”
8) Nursery rhymes
There are many nursery rhymes out there that are great for finger or body-play.
This Little Piggy – Play or wriggle her little toes as you recite this.
One, Two, Three, Four, Five. Once I Caught a Fish Alive - Tap on her fingers as you recite this rhyme.
Itsy Bitsy Spider – Pretend your fingers are the spider’s legs. Go up and down her body according to the lyrics. Great for tickly moments too.
Wheels On The Bus – Use her hands to make circular motions similar to the wheels on the bus.
9) Mirror mirror on the wall
When baby is able to hold his head relatively well (around three months), you can try this. Make sure that he is well supported against your chest. Stand close enough in front of the mirror so that baby can see himself and you. Recite: “Mirror mirror on the wall. Who’s the cutest of them all?” Then, using baby’s hand to tap on his reflection in the mirror, say, “I am!”
10) Human swing
Cradle baby securely in your arms and pretend you are a swing. Then say, “Ready, get set, off we go! Swing up and down, up and down. Round and round and round and round. Whee!”