Best games to play: 0 to age 3

You are your baby’s best teacher, so help her learn the best way, through games you play together!

Best games to play: 0 to age 3

The time you spend with your tot helps her develop in leaps and bounds. By playing with you, she’s learning how things work and how to interact with other people. In fact, the only time she’s not learning is when she’s bored. So, try these tips that will turn every day into a discovery day, whatever your baby’s age.

0-6 months
Your baby will learn first to support her head, then to reach for objects and pick them up. She’ll begin to babble — the precursor to talking. She’ll recognise familiar faces and follow a moving object with her eyes. Eventually, she’ll be able to see right across the room.

Great ways to play
• Show your baby her reflection in the mirror ― this helps with self-discovery and introduces the idea that the two of you are separate people.

• Encourage her to imitate you through copying games ― Practising facial movements and mimicking sounds help your baby develop the muscles she needs to learn to speak.

6 to 12 months
She’s beginning to move  sitting and rolling, then crawling, pulling up and cruising (walking while holding on for support). She can pass objects from hand to hand, respond to her name, and may say a couple of recognisable words.

Great ways to play
• Using cushions to prop her up helps your baby develop the muscles to sit independently, and leaves her hands free to explore.

• As cruising prepares her muscles for walking independently, give your baby different environments to negotiate offers new challenges.

Photo: INGimage

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12 to 18 months
At the start of her second year, your little one makes the transition from baby to toddler. She’ll learn to walk, follow simple instructions and say six to 20 words. She can feed herself with a spoon and build a tower of bricks.

Great ways to play
• Let your child play with cold cooked pasta like spaghetti, cornflour mixed with water or even jelly ― this will introduce her to different textures and conveys the message that food is fun.

• Put some music on and dance together, let her play with toy musical instruments, or make your own maracas by filling used plastic bottle with red beans or rice. Dancing helps your tot hone her motor skills, while playing along to music teaches rhythm.

18 to 24 months
Around her second birthday, your toddler will master running, jumping, throwing and kicking. She’ll enjoy scribbling with a crayon and doing simple puzzles. She’ll form basic two-word sentences and point to parts of her body when you name them.

Great ways to play
• Art-and-craft projects using crayons and recycled or coloured paper help your little one develop her imagination, and teach her pencil control ― essential for the school years ahead.

• Recite or sing nursery rhymes, as well as do action songs together ― the repetition helps language development, while the actions boost motor skills.

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24 to 36 months
Over the next year, your tot will begin to speak more clearly and in sentences. She may learn to use a knife and fork, read a few simple words, such as her name, and count to 10 or more. Her fine and gross motor skills are advanced - she can tackle the climbing frame by herself, and also draw a recognisable person.

Great ways to play
• Set aside a basket with cast-offs like cheap plastic jewellery and a few colourful hats and scarves, so that she can play dress-up. Dressing up boosts your tot’s imagination and understanding of social roles, and gets her used to dressing and undressing herself.

• Play with picture cards ― try Snap! ― as well as household objects, like forks, buttons and jam-jar lids, and get your tot to match them. This teaches your tot about shapes and sizes, and gets her used to the concept of things being the same or different.

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