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The Basics of Exploring through Movement and Play with Your Baby and Toddler

Movement and play build your child's coordination, strength, and overall health. It's also how children explore and learn about the world. Each stage of development comes with new and exciting opportunities for learning!

Here are 3 simple ways to make movement and play part of daily life with your little one:

1. Give them things to handle, and encourage everyday discovery.

When you provide objects of different colors, shapes, and textures to play with, you’re helping your child develop hand-eye coordination and motor skills. Use safe and simple items from your home; you don’t need fancy toys to keep your baby’s attention!

Babies and toddlers discover how the world works by interacting with the objects around them. They reach for things because they’re naturally curious; they want to see what objects do and feel like. For example, your toddler may reach for a spoon and drop it over and over to see what will happen (and because they learn through repetition.)

Watch and assist as they explore the world around them, knowing that this is how they learn!

2. Give them time and space to move their body.

There's a reason young children have boundless energy and are wired to move. Science shows that for a child's brain to fully mature, it needs stimulation through movement and sensory experiences. An infant might explore by touching, grasping, chewing, or crawling. A toddler might explore by walking or climbing.

Physical activity and curiosity don't simply build a strong body; they build a strong brain!

Give your infant regular “tummy time.” When they lift their head to look around, they strengthen the upper body and prepare muscles to crawl. They also get a new view of their surroundings!

For a baby, “play” may look like reaching for a small toy or shaking a rattle, both of which build coordination.

For a toddler, “play” may look like pouring water in the bath, building with blocks, playing hide and seek, and rolling a ball.

3. Remember that YOU are your baby’s favorite plaything, especially during the first months of life.

A baby’s development depends on human interaction. Your face, voice, and responsiveness to their needs are more important to their development than the latest and greatest toys on the market. As your child engages with the world around him, talk and point as he reaches for a toy, play peek-a-boo as you change her diaper, sing during bath-time. These fun, simple, powerful activities are what The Basics are all about!

For more ideas, visit the “Explore Through Movement and Play” page at www.palmettobasics.org.

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

 Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are doing Basic #4, "Explore through Movement and Play" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!


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