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National Childhood Network (NCN)

Play – Babies



Did you know that the most important interactions you have with a child can happen through play? By engaging in playful serve and return with a child, you can literally help build stronger connections in the brain. Strong neural connections are the foundation for all of a child’s future learning, behavior, and health. In this Mini Parenting Master Class from UNICEF, Center on the Developing Child Director Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D., explains the importance of serve and return interactions like play—and how easy they are to do, especially through practice!

The importance of Tummy Time

Tummy Time helps your baby develop the neck, back, and shoulder muscles needed to meet infant developmental milestones. It may also help prevent early motor delays and conditions such as flat head syndrome (positional plagiocephaly) and twisted neck (positional torticollis).

This short video will explain the benefits of Tummy Time and will show you how to engage your baby in Tummy Time from birth.

Try to find a way or variety of ways baby enjoys tummy time and build it into their day.

 Tummy Time from 3 months

Tummy Time 3-6 Months

A Parent’s guide to The Senses from Pathways.Org

Reading with talking and singing to your baby

Reading to babies and young children promotes children’s development under the four themes of Aistear Well-being, Identity & Belonging, Communicating and Exploring & Thinking.

Ten ways that babies learn when you sing to them >>

Listen to this short video to discover how important reading, talking and singing with your baby or young child is.

Aistear - Enjoying books with your baby

From the moment an infant can hear – which we now know is long before birth itself – that child begins to respond to sound and music. This newborn infant then enters a buzzing, full-spectrum audio world containing every sound imaginable from soothing whispers through to disturbing bangs and crashes. Each of these elements evokes an emotional response, and soon a vocal one as the child realises he can initiate as well as receive these audio messages.

And so a sonorous dance of delight begins; the baby cooing, babbling and gesturing, and parents echoing, elaborating and ever extending the child’s efforts. Musicians call this deeply satisfying interaction ‘call and response’, a universal pattern which underpins musical performance and composition in all cultures, as well as providing a basic framework for language. This discourse initially requires no words, and the child will remain receptive to music’s strange primeval power to influence our thoughts and feelings at sub-language levels throughout life.

Enjoying-books-with-your-baby (PDF)

Messy Play

Messy play can provide great development opportunities for babies and young children and we have included a resource full of ideas for messy play for you here. These ideas are directed at parents and early years staff to give them encouragement to engage children in many beneficial activities.

Click on the links below for more:

Resources from XPlay Scotland

This resource was compiled by NCN and will provide lots of play ideas for babies toddlers and preschoolers.