Playing with your child in the first three years of life helps the two of you build a warm and loving relationship. Playing together also supports the development of essential social skills like sharing and taking turns, language skills such as labeling objects, making requests or commenting, and thinking blocksskills including problem-solving.  For babies and toddlers, play is their "work". Your baby needs your help to learn to play and develop social skills needed to connect with others and build friendships.

Provide an object or toy for your baby or toddler and watch what they do with it. It is OK if it's not the "right" way to use the toy, let your baby find a "new way". Stacking cups can be stacked, or you can fill them, or use them to trace a circle, or sort by colors, or imagine they have are drinking cups.  Follow you child's lead and support you child's creativity. It's fine to show your child how a toy works, but resist the desire to do it yourself!  It's best to provide just enough help to prevent frustration while allowing your baby to learn new skills.

Do you have a play space in your home? Is it child-safe? Is there too much noise or too many distractions? If you child has too many toys they may not truly play with any of them.  A few well-selected toys that you child can easily see and reach may be all a baby needs. Allow you child to start playtime with their choice of toys.  This gives time to practice and master new skills. Learning to do it "all by myself" builds your child's confidence and is an important key to future learning.

Attention develops as a child can stay with a simple activity. Oftentimes parents become tired of an activity before the child, so let your child take the lead. While doing things over and over again is not necessarily thrilling for Mom and Dad, it is for young children. So when you're tempted to hide that toy because you don't think you can stand playing with it one more time, remember how important repetition is to your child's development.