Baby Play Ideas For Baby Development – Nester and Cub content_copy

Baby Play Ideas For Baby Development

Baby play ideas wooden baby gym

If you are a new mum and have any of the following questions then this blog is for you!

  • What does my baby need for it's development?  
  • Why is tummy time so important and how much should I be doing with my baby?  
  • There are so many baby items on the market, what are the essentials?
  • Where can I find some baby play resources?

This month on the blog, I am absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to interview Casey from Little Lifelong Learners.  Casey has made a name for herself for being the go to expert in sharing hands-on resources and activities that are both educational and engaging for children.  As a qualified teacher and mother of three beautiful children, Casey has generously shared her knowledge with us to cut through the overwhelm for any first time mums.  

Casey Patch - Little Lifelong Learners

Above: Casey with her first daughter, Lilly.


Q:

I first found you when I had just had our daughter and I was looking for play ideas for babies.  I ended up purchasing your sensory play ideas resources.  Can you tell us a little about your story and why you began creating teaching and play resources?

A:

I started my teaching blog way back in 2012 during my first year as an early years teacher! I loved sharing my teaching ideas with fellow educators and found it so inspiring that my ideas and printables could inspire educators all over the world! When I fell pregnant with our first child, my teaching contract wasn’t renewed for the following year. I was heartbroken but I took it as a sign that I should focus more on building my business, especially while our children were little.

As our children grew, I’d share our play ideas with my community and it just took off! Especially over on Instagram. I soon realised that play-based learning was my passion…and I was determined to help other parents and educators learn playfully with their children too!

Q:

Why are you so passionate about learning through play?

A:

While the benefits of play are well noted in research, unfortunately there is such a pushdown from the department to have our little ones reading and writing practically from birth (or so it seems!!). When children play, they have the opportunity to learn so many skills like problem solving, vocabulary development, fine motor skill development, early reading and writing skills and so much more! 

When children are totally engrossed in their play, they are learning so many skills. But I’m also a big fan of the memories that can be made when a child plays with their parents. They aren’t going to remember how clean you kept the house or how you put so much effort into cooking nutritious meals. But they will remember playing with you! They’ll remember the time you played dress ups and chased each other around the house…and they’ll remember helping you make fresh batches of play dough and all those times you collected treasures when you went to the park. And that is my favourite!

Instagram Feed - Little lifelong learners
Above: A snippet of some of the playful learning ideas that can be found on Casey's instagram feed over @littlelifelonglearners


Q:

Audrey is now your third child.  Has your approach to play and /or parenting style differed at all from Lilly to Audrey?

A:

I feel like I am much more relaxed! I used to feel like I had to have all these planned activities for Lilly! I spent a lot of time on Pinterest trying to replicate all these amazing ideas – but more often than not, she just wanted to play with an empty wipe packet!

Now I am all about child-led play. I try to observe our children and see what interests them – what they are most drawn to. And then I set up little activities or invitations to play to meet those interests! I still find myself setting up activities, but they don’t take me long and the focus is always on the process…and making special memories together!

Q:

Many of our audience are first time mums.  Can you explain why tummy time and the use of a baby gym are so important for baby development?

A:

Over the years, I have learnt that many of the baby devices we are told we need just aren’t important. In fact, sometimes I think they do more harm than good which is really hard as a first time mum. You just want the best for your babies!

But I have learnt that babies need time on their tummies and they need floor time. This is where they learn how to roll and eventually sit and crawl. Tummy time is when our babies strengthen the muscles in their necks, bodies, arms and legs! Without this strengthening, children will also struggle later in life with fine motor skills and even gross motor skills. When we put our babies in baby swings, jumpers and walkers, they aren’t given enough opportunity to develop these skills. You can read more about the importance of floor time over at Can Do Kiddo.

I often hear parents say that their babies don’t like tummy time or floor time…and that’s when a baby gym comes in! Baby gyms give your baby the freedom of movement that they need (being unrestrained) but also adds a few other developmental opportunities like reaching and grasping, tracking movement (when you hang things from the baby gym), crossing the midline (which is important when learning to write), learning about cause and effect and even problem solving.


Baby Play Tummy Time

Above: Casey's Daughter Audrey enjoying tummy time and floor play with her Nester and Cub Wooden Baby Gym.


Q:

How much time would you recommend for a baby to be engaged with baby gym play on the floor?  Do you have any guideline or advice regarding time lengths for this kind of play?

A:

Experts recommend 2 hours of tummy time and floor time a day. That sounds like a lot but it’s very achievable especially with a baby gym! I think it’s important to note that younger babies likely won’t be happy on the floor for very long and that you can build up to it by having short periods on the floor either on their tummies or using a baby gym.

I’d recommend following the lead of your baby. Put them down under their baby gym and sit with them. Talk to them and move the baby gym toys around so they can practise tracking movement with their eyes too. Vary the toys you hang from the gym. But most importantly, pick your baby up before they become destressed and try again when they’re feeling happy.

Wooden baby gym play ideas

Above: Casey's Daughter Audrey enjoying tummy time and floor play with her Nester and Cub Wooden Baby Gym.

Q:

We have seen you come up with some very creative ways of using your Baby gym.  Do you have any favourites?

A:

We have loved using our baby gym for all kinds of play! I love the flexibility of a baby gym and how you can use them for so many different types of play! Recently, we brought some leaves inside and hung them from the baby gym. Our 4 month old LOVED watching the leaves blow under the fan and she even tried reaching for the leaves which were just out of reach!

Wooden baby gym play ideas leaves

Above: Casey's Daughter Audrey enjoying her nature inspired leaf play on her wooden baby gym.

Q:

What advice do you have for new mums who might feel overwhelmed or uncertain about baby development and what is most important for a baby’s needs in regards to developmental play for a baby?

A:

Just remember to keep it simple! Babies are so easily entertained (it may not seem like it at the time haha) but you are your babies most exciting toy! Talking to your baby is so important as this is how they learn about language conventions and develop important oral language skills.

Personally, I don’t feel like babies need a lot of fancy toys or equipment. My go-to play items for babies include:

  • A baby play gym
  • Items to hang from the gym - my babies have all loved bath loofas or anything with a different texture or sound
  • Simple, open-ended toys to keep in a little basket. Our favourites include crinkle books that make sounds, wooden teethers, wooden rattles.

I try to avoid toys that need batteries only because they often just entertain our babies and don’t tend to develop as many skills as a good quality, open-ended toy would.

Q:

Is there anything that new mums should be mindful of when getting creative with baby play?  Anything you would advise to avoid or be mindful of?

A:

Your baby’s safety is the most important thing! You should never leave anything hanging from a baby gym that could strangle or choke a baby if it came loose. In the past, I’ve hung ribbons from the baby gym which was a wonderful fine motor activity – but all play should be very closely supervised. Generally speaking, if an item can fit inside an empty toilet roll, it is considered a choking hazard and not suitable for baby play. 

Q:

You have some amazing play resources for parents.  What are your top resources for baby play and where can we find them?

A:

My eBook, Sensory Play for Little Learners is my most popular resource for babies and toddlers! It’s full of 50 simple play ideas that will help to develop a range of early learning skills!

You’ll also find a FREE set of High Contrast Cards over on my blog. These are perfect for newborn babies and are a great way to develop and strengthen the eye muscles.

Be sure to also check out my Baby Play category over on my blog! You’ll find lots of fun ideas for baby play!

 little lifelong learners baby resources

Thank you so much to Casey for sharing her very valuable knowledge and resources with our audience!  We know you are going to have so much fun utilising all of Casey's brilliant baby play resources with your babes.


If you wish to follow Casey on her socials, you can find her here:

Website: www.littlelifelonglearners.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/littlelifelonglearners/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/littlelifelonglearners
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com.au/casey_patch/boards/


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