two babies girls playing together with color block toys

Play Time


Play time for children, especially infants is all about learning.

Play time is the time when opportunities for development occur. Therefore, parents should choose their children’s toys carefully in order to maximize developmental learning. Play time encourages language development, problem solving and motor skills. It includes really anything that stimulates the infant using their touch, hear and sucking senses. With a baby the game you play is not important – just the interacting with him or her is enough. As the baby gets older, repetitive games are common – singing the same songs, reading the same books – and the play becomes more structured. Choosing age appropriate games will help the child’s understanding as well as coordination. When babies are quite young, games like peek-a-boo, playing with soft blocks, stuffed animals and soft balls are all appropriate.

Play time for newborns and young infants do not require many items. For the most part, just talking, laughing and interacting are enough to stimulate a baby. Gently waving a few small toys in front of their faces and letting them follow it with their eyes is typically all that is needed. At this age, toys that are soft and plush and make noise or plays music is appropriate. One “in style” toy for infants is the Sleep Sheep- by Cloud B. This is a soft and fluffy sheep that plays three different sounds. This toy is perfect for lulling a baby to sleep at nighttime but is also something that can be played with during the day as well. The sounds include: a mother’s heartbeat, rain showers, whale sounds and ocean surf.

Another trend in baby toys is activity sets that are convertible and grow with the child’s development. For example, there are a few activity play gyms on the market that start out as activity mats for young babies but then convert into a gym when the baby gets older. When used as a mat, the child can be sitting or lying down; when it converts into a gym, the child can either sit or stand and play. These play gyms incorporate all different toys, lights, sounds and music so that even older children will not be bored.

Another baby item that is convertible that parents often choose is bouncing chairs. Parents are choosing bouncing chairs that do more than just sit there. Bouncing chairs that grow from birth to toddler ages are quite popular as they prevent parents from having to buy an additional chair down the road. Also, bouncing chairs that do more than one thing is common as well. For instance, some bouncing chairs are stationary but can also rock back and forth, play music, have a toy bar etc that would be useful from birth onwards through infancy.

Music has proven to be important for stimulating infants and developing their sense of sound. Therefore, toys that teach music and sounds have become very popular. One toy on the market is called the Music Skool which uses more than 50 tunes and sounds to teach and entertain babies. The toy teaches not only music but letters, numbers in English as well as French.

Baby exersaucers or activity centers have become the new “must-have” for new parents. Not only do babies love to play in them but it also keeps babies confined to a space so that parents can do something else. As these activity centers often have so many toys, lights, sounds and so on to keep baby entertained, it would probably give parents more time to do things that perhaps an activity mat would. Babies can release some of their energy by bouncing away in the exersaucer.