A variety of rich experiences feeds their growth. Babies learn more, and faster than they will at any other time in their lives.
They can be included in every area of play – just think about how you can make things simpler and lower.
• Scarves and soft fabric are great for playing peek a boo.
• Read them stories, kōrero pakiwaitara – include them when reading to older
children. Show them the book you have chosen.
• Talk to them, kōrero – tell them what you are doing. Ask them questions. Respond to their babbling and demonstrate patterns of turn taking in conversation.
• Use puppets, and finger puppets – move them slowly so enough that the baby can follow them with their eyes.
• Sing, say rhymes, waiata – use interactive songs and chants – Round and Round the Garden, Incy Wincy Spider, this little piggy went to market.
• Explore, toro – let the babies see and touch.
• Sensory bottles – small colourful items can be given to babies in clear plastic bottles with the lids hot glued on – these are noisy, colourful, and move when touched. Coloured water with glitter is another option. Or you can create netting bags – use netting fruit bags, or undone shower scrubs, fill with stones, or plastic bottle caps, or other interesting items and tie securely.
• Mix, whakaranu – Gloop (cornflour and water – is non-slippery and no problem if they eat it or get it in their eyes). Fingerpaint inside a plastic bag is surprisingly still a fun and squishy sensory experience without being messy.
• Paint, panipani – take their footprints, let them sit and paint with their hands and feet.
• Scribble, tākōkau – sit them on the concrete or next to a blackboard with a big piece
•Touch, tauware – tactile walls and tactile mats, activity walls or puzzles with locks, bolts, switches.
• Ice, hukapapa – a block of ice with things frozen inside – scenting the water with essence adds an extra element to the play.
Babies will invent their own ways to learn too. It’s often as simple as ‘get out of their way and watch them play.’
Some Playcentres also offer special sessions just for new babies – including some that offer the SPACE programme or BabiesCanPlay.