In theory, it’s easy to imagine spending most of your waking hours playing with baby. It’s quite easy to plan out a day (in theory!) filled with nothing but fun and educational baby activities and cuddles in between.
But when you’re confronted with the realities of parenting a newborn baby, sometimes, all you want to do in between tasks and chores is to rest… or browse your phone idly.
While you definitely need to rest, it’s crucial to not forget about baby’s playtime. Just like the rest of your activities — parenting-related or not — playing with baby needs to be incorporated as a consistent part of your daily routine. Here are 7 amazing reasons why you shouldn’t forego baby’s playtime!
1. Playtime stimulates your baby’s senses.
There are only a few things more important than stimulating your baby’s senses, and you can do this with sensory play. Your baby’s perception of the world using their five senses — sight, sound, hearing, touch, and taste — are the building blocks which they will use to learn concepts and skills.
The wonderful thing about sensory play is that it can be unstructured and unplanned. Simply singing with your baby or reading them a story using a textured book or cuddling underneath a nice, fluffy blanket can stimulate their senses.
2. Playtime teaches your baby essential skills.
The first 1,000 days of your baby’s life is very crucial because during this time, your baby will learn skills that will have lifelong effects. Playtime is essential because your baby will learn many different skills from physical activities, unstructured play, and interaction.
These skills include communication and language skills, concepts like cause-and-effect and object permanence, even social adeptness!
3. Playtime enhances brain development.
Playtime may sound like it’s referring to pure fun and entertainment, but it’s actually doing so much for your baby’s brain development. Consider playtime as a form of exercise for your baby’s brain. Simply playing provides an enriching environment for their mental growth, promoting cognitive skills like memory and learning from past experiences. Playing also fuels imagination, creativity, and problem solving!
4. Playtime promotes muscle development.
Aside from mental development, playtime also promotes muscle development. Even when your child is still a newborn baby, tummy time activities do so much for promoting muscle growth through enhancing your baby’s body strength.
As your baby grows older, they will also start exploring more physical activities that will hone skills like gross and fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, flexibility, agility, and balance.
5. Playtime helps your baby process emotions.
Playtime also benefits your baby emotionally. During playtime, you can help your baby express their emotions by letting them mirror what you do. For example, you can make faces and discuss the different kinds of emotions while doing baby activities.
Communication plays a big role during play, and it is also during this time that your growing child can come across new emotions for the first time, such as frustration and impatience. Use playtime to teach — and model — how to act on these emotions appropriately.
6. Playtime makes your baby feel loved and valued.
Mental, physical, and emotional development aside, if there is only one reason why you should be playing with your baby, it’s this. Spending time with your baby, whether it’s playing actively or lying down cuddling while reading a book, lets them know that they are important and they are loved. This builds values, such as empathy, a sense of security and a high self-esteem.
These values do not remain in babyhood. On the contrary, these values set the stage for their life experiences. If they are given the best start in life by feeling loved and valued, then they will be able to adjust to life more adequately.
7. Playtime benefits you, too!
Finally, you should remember to commit to regular playtime with your baby because it affects you, too! Parents also benefit from playtime as bonding with your baby helps release a feel-good hormone called oxytocin. As we know, this hormone helps relieve stress and anxiety and give you an overall happy feeling!
Playing with baby, whether it’s restful or active play, results in amazing benefits for your baby, from mental growth to physical development. It even promotes emotional and social skills, setting your baby for lifelong success! Plus, it’s good for you, too.