Baby's First Year · Parenting

Learning through play

Smiling parents and baby lying on tummy on hardwood floor

Our nurse Allison Stockley shares part 2 of her series on the importance of the early years. Her first post reminded us to check in on our child’s development. This post teaches us about the importance of playing with our children. 

Play is meant to be fun, sparking curiosity and imagination, but did you know that it is also crucial for a child’s physical, cognitive, emotional and social development?

There is more brain development occurring in your child between birth and age 3 than at any other time in their life. When children engage with the world around them through all of their 5 senses, connections form between brain cells. The more children have opportunities to engage in a variety of activities, the stronger those connections become.


  • teaches your child about themselves, others and the world around them
  • develops your child’s physical skills, which helps build confidence and control
  • helps your child with language development
  • develops your child’s social skills as they must learn to get along with others, take turns, share and practice patience
  • supports emotional development by teaching your child how to name and cope with their feelings
  • helps build strong relationships between you and your child

This amazing 7 year old describes the importance of playing and connecting with your children.  Who knew a game of peek-a-boo was so important?

Molly Wright: How every child can thrive by five

Do you find yourself running out of ideas for ways to engage with your child during playtime? Playing with your child can be simple and fun for both of you, and you don’t need expensive or fancy toys. You are your child’s favourite toy!

Tips for playing with your child:

  • Let your child lead play time. Follow their curiosity. Get down on the floor at their level, and look at the world through their eyes.
  • Include play that uses their language and thinking skills and play that that gets their bodies moving.
  • Have playful moments while doing everyday activities like bath time, getting dressed, walking to the grocery store.
  • Introduce rhyming games, songs, or imaginative pretend play into your daily activities.
  • Give them art supplies like crayons, paper, play dough, paint and scissors and let them explore and be creative.
  • Use many different emotions and expressive sounds while reading, playing with toys, and during make-believe play. This supports language and emotional development.
  • Invite your child to look, point, touch and answer questions when reading together. This can make a book you’ve read over and over come to life and spark conversations with your child.
  • Supervise your child’s play, and create playful environments that are safe for your child to explore. Arrange toys and objects that are age appropriate and within reach.
  • Praise your child often as they try new things.

For more information and ideas on how to play with your child:

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