A consistent and regular playtime has a lot of tremendous benefits for newborn babies. Playing with your baby enhances your baby’s mental, physical, and socio-emotional capacities — and, at the same time, playtime makes you feel happier, too!
Now, to make the most out of playtime, it’s time to look into open-ended play.
What is open-ended play and why is it great?
Open-ended play is basically a kind of play that does not have limitations or a specific outcome. Instead of a structure, this play uses toys and objects that allow your child to play freely, with endless possibilities. No instructions or rules are needed — just your child’s creativity.
With open-ended toys for babies, you can encourage your child to explore their imagination and play however they want. There is no right or wrong way to play, which makes open-ended play easy, inclusive, and engaging. It also enhances your baby’s decision-making skills.
Open-ended toys vs. close-ended toys
If there are open-ended toys for open-ended play, there are also close-ended toys for close-ended play.
As mentioned above, open-ended toys do not have a specific goal or outcome toward the end of playtime. These toys do not have limitations, which encourage your baby to be creative and imaginative, such as in the case of pretend play where your child can make decisions on how they want to play with the toys.
Open-ended toys are beneficial for little babies because, during this phase, the focus of playtime should be sensory stimulation and development of cognitive skills and muscle strength. And because open-ended toys (e.g. dolls and blocks) are engaging, you can easily play them with your child, promoting communication and social skills.
On the contrary, close-ended toys are the opposite of open-ended toys. Unlike the latter, close-ended toys follow clear instructions. There are defined beginning, middle, and end stages, and a specific outcome is expected to happen.
Even if close-ended toys for babies are not the same as open-ended toys, it does not mean that they are not beneficial. In fact, close-ended play also has important benefits, helping a child learn how to follow instructions and complete tasks. Close-ended toys are also good in attention-building, problem-solving, and memory and mastery.
In other words, in order to make the most out of playtime, you need both kinds of toys at home. However, when your child is still a baby, they would benefit more from open-ended play.
What are good examples of open-ended toys for babies?
Open-ended toys are not hard to find at all! You can begin with common toys that you would normally buy for a baby, such as the following:
- Animal plush toys
- Soft knitted rattles
- Dolls and puppets
- Building blocks
- Role playing toys (kitchen set, tool set)
- Cars and trucks
- Art supplies
- Letters and numbers
- Musical instruments
Aside from these toys, you will soon find out that your baby will play with absolutely anything, including the boxes the toys above came in! For open-ended play, you can also let your baby play with dirt (yes!), sand, fabric, blankets, paper, non-breakable utensils — virtually anything baby-safe that you can find inside your household. These household items are great for sparking your little one’s growing imagination, so let them play!