Playtime For Baby and Toddler

by | Aug 14, 2021 | Playtime

Playtime for Baby 

During the first few years of your child’s life, they will experience tremendous growth and development. Playtime is essential for development in babies and healthy young children because it contributes to their cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being.

How to Play with Newborn

Learning how to play with your newborn baby is key to start stimulating learning. Newborns learn to connect by the feel of your touch, the sound of your voice, and the sight of your face. They look to find comfort and nourishment to feed the hunger. They will learn to recognize and respond to familiar faces and sounds. Baby will do so by looking around for where the sound comes from, and becoming less active while learning to search. The best way to play with a newborn is to use soothing sounds, smiles, and gentle caresses to create the association between your voice and face to the calm and nourishment the baby is looking for.


Ideas for Playing with Newborns

Using soothing music, singing lullabies, smile, and make facial expressions are great ideas for playing with newborns. As for toys, you can introduce rattles and textured toys with contrasting colors such as red, white, and black. Look for these colors, curves, and symmetry when choosing the best newborn toys.


How to Stimulate and Play with Babies

As mentioned above, children learn through play. You should look for toys appropriate to the current age of your baby. A toy should be interacted with and used in a variety of ways.

  • Try to provide open-ended toys as much as possible; open-ended means that there are several uses and ways to engage with the item
  • Many toys today are designed to be used in a particular way for a specific purpose; this leads to children becoming bored with the toy and requesting new toys
  • You must teach your child how to play. Give the child the toy to explore but don’t show them how it works right away. After they have investigated the toy on their own and no longer seem interested in it, you can offer some support by showing different ways the item can be used.

Keep in mind that all this stimulations should occur in a different area other than the place were the baby sleeps such as the crib. You want to leave the crib for sleeping purposes only to help with sleep training. Check out some of my tips how to teach your baby to self soothe for a better sleeping. 

Tips to Interact with Babies

You should stimulate your baby through guided and free playtimes. Here are some examples of ideas to interact and stimulate your baby through guided play: 

  • Put your baby on your lap to explore toys and objects
  • Talk about what you are seeing, hearing, and feeling
  • Support their hands to play with the object

Ideas to interact via Free Play:

  • Laying your baby on their back or tummy on a play mat with items overhead or below to look and interact with
  • Mouthing a teething toy while in the car seat or crinkling a soft toy while in the stroller

For Babies, Playtime is About Engaging the Five Senses, Seeing, Touching, Hearing, Feeling, Tasting.

  • Clapping
  • Playing peek-a-boo
  • Blowing bubbles
  • Waving, pointing, and blowing kisses
  • Singing songs with motions
  • “Itsy Bitsy Spider”
  • “If You’re Happy and You Know It”
  • “The Wheels on the Bus”

Take your baby outside for a walk and talk to them about what you see Point Out:

  • Wildlife
  • Weather
  • Houses
  • Pets
  • Families
  • Trees and Flowers

As your baby grows even more:

  • Allow time for them to walk and interact with nature and play structures
  • Continue to help them to understand what they are seeing by narrating their exploration.
  • Playtime gives Children the Opportunity to Develop and Practice New Skills at their Own Pace


“For Babies, Playtime is About Engaging the Five Senses, Seeing, Touching, Hearing, Feeling, Tasting”

How to Play with Toddler

As your baby grows, it is important to continually adjust the playtime to the new characteristics of their development. Learning how to play with a toddler is very different than how to play with a newborn. Toddlers enjoy:

  • Pushing and walking toys
  • Musical instruments
  • First puzzles with oversized knobs
  • Shape sorting cubes
  • Rainbow ring stackers or any other stacking toy
  • 4-sided activity cubes
  • Sand and water toys
  • Wooden toys are often a big hit because they match everyone’s décor, and they are typically both eco-friendly and non-toxic

Repeat games, songs, books, and activities over and over!

  • Stimulate and strengthen the senses
  • Assist the brain in forming connections
  • Establish the basis for how your baby thinks and learns in the future

Language Development Baby Sign Language:

  • Children can become increasingly frustrated by not being able to communicate with caregivers
  • Children can be taught to use their hands to “talk” long before their mouths can catch up
  • Baby Signing is endorsed and encouraged by the AAP

Problem-solving is learned through playtime

  • Allow your baby time to problem solve before you rush in and solve every problem for them
  • Allow babying the opportunity to reach for a toy and try to get it before you step in and retrieve the toy for them
  • Once your baby shows signs of frustration, it is okay to assist them, but let them have the chance to work it out first
  • You want to be supportive and encouraging, even with small babies

Problem-solving is learned through playtime You will notice over time that babies will spend more time trying to solve a problem on their own if they know that you will not rescue them immediately

Because playtime and learning go hand-in-hand:

With young children, it is important that you allow time every day to interact with a loving adult as well as have time to independently explore and play.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises no screen time for children under 2 years of age

Research from the AAP found:

  • Unstructured playtime is more valuable for the developing brain than electronic media
  • Children learn the following through unplugged play:
    • To think creatively
    • Problem solve
    • Develop reasoning
    • Develop motor skills
  • Free play teaches children how to entertain themselves
  • Young children learn best from interaction with humans

Screen Time for Toddler

Parents who watch TV or videos with their children may add to the child’s understanding. However, children learn more from live presentations than from televised ones.

When parents are watching their own programs, this is “background media” for their children. It distracts the parent and decreases parent-child interaction. Its presence may also interfere with a young child’s learning from play and activities.



The information contained on this site should not be construed as medical advice nor should it replace the advice and individual care of your health care provider. 

About Me

Hi, I’m Susan Finazzo! I’m a certified Birth Doula, Birth coach, and Childbirth Educator from Port St Lucie, Florida. In addition to that, I am also a Faith-Based Counselor. I have over 10 years experience helping women having a positive birthing experience and would love to make a difference on yours too! 

How to Interact with Newborn, Baby, and Toddler

Learning how to bets interact with your newborn, baby, and toddler through all phases of development is key in developing cognitive, physical, social, and emotional skills. Our job as doulas and birth coaches is to prepare you in what to expect, how to choose what you need to buy, and how to continue to interact and stimulate your baby on along his development.

Schedule a FREE consultationMore About My Services