Playing with an infant may seem a little one-sided. But, both you and your child can retain great benefits from playing! Your child will gain physical, cognitive, and social developmental growth and you get to have fun with your baby.
The infancy stage of life has a major psychosocial developmental issue that babies must overcome. This is the concept of trust versus mistrust, and it is formed by the care they receive. The most basic way to establish trust is meeting an infants needs. Through trust a relationship is formed. Infants depend on their senses for their perception of life. Awareness is developed through touch. This is where play comes in! Play can be anything. It may start from simple rocking, nursing, and develop into games such as peek-a-boo, which shows how a baby begins to develop object permanence, the comprehension that objects continue to exist when they cannot be observed.
Communication is developed through play as well. Copying sounds your baby makes can start a quasi-conversation. With the call and response foundation your baby will gain confidence and can start vocalizing more often, perhaps echoing you for that first word every mom wants to hear: Mama!
Beyond the psychosocial, play for infants help with physical development. Stretching and tummy time are great for increasing flexibility and range of motion. Tummy time in particular has been seen as one of the best ways to engage an infant in crawling. Even though you are in constant supervision mode, both directed and undirected play are essential. Stretching, conversations, and peek-a-boo are great forms of directed play. You are in control. But, undirected play is great for development too, and gives you a bit of a break! Some examples of infant undirected play can include bonding with other infants (play dates!) and playing with toys (mobiles are great). The key is that undirected play becomes child-centered; they are in control now! These types of play expand creativity, confidence, and problem solving skills.
As a mother you can help with your infant’s development through play. It is critical to keep play fun. It should not be a chore for either participant. Play creates happiness for you and your baby. Emotional range is developed throughout the lifespan, start early and create a happy atmosphere for growth!
Cornish-Bowden, Joyce. "INFANCY AND PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT." Bulletin of the National Association for Nursery Education 11.2 (1956): 7-13. Web.
Other sites referenced: