PLAYING is very important as it helps to improve the bond between parent and child. The benefits of playing games together as a family is further heightened when parents choose games and toys that are appropriate for their children based on their age and interest.
Here are some of the games and toys to introduce at different stages.
Below 12 months
1. Peek-a-boo: This game can be played in a variety of ways and further enhances your baby's development. You can cover your eyes with your hands and then remove them at intervals, or you can get a brightly coloured stuffed animal and move it in and out of your child's sight interchangeably. At this stage, babies use toys to explore their sense of touch, and the bright colours fascinate them. Howeverm, be careful about fluffy, stuffed toys and your child's allergies.
2. Do a carpet crawl: For babies who have started crawling, you can get different textured rugs that you can crawl around on with them. Choose rugs in satin, fur, plastic, paper and straw for them to crawl on so they can feel the different textures. Just make sure that they are safe.
3. Sing or read to your child: They might not be able to communicate their appreciation, but these are two activities that parents can do to enhance bonding.
Baby books with bright colours and which have sound; and toys like musical keyboards introduce them to the beauty of music.
Between 12 months to two years old
1. Kick/catch the ball: This helps to improve their co-ordination. If you don't have a ball, you can use an inflated balloon or a used juice box filled with newspaper.
2. Drawing and colouring: Allow them to express themselves through drawing and have fun with them while colouring and painting different objects. You don't have to buy colouring books. Just check online for printable pages with their favourite characters which you can download and print.
3. Building blocks: Children this age will have fun building up blocks and then watching them topple; and you can join in the fun as you help them put things together. You don't need fancy building blocks either. Anything stackable, including books and smooth rocks, can work.
4. Make-believe games: Take time out to join your child for a sip of their tea from their small plastic toy cup, or you can spend time picking out clothes together for their dolls.
5. Beat the drum: Now is a good time to introduce your child to music and sounds. You can either use toy drums or any other safe surface to make noise.
Between three to four years old
1. Riding the tricycle: Now is a good time to teach your child how to ride their tricycle. You can take them to an open area near your house to do so, or you can do it at home if you have the space.
2. Card games: Get your child to identify matching cards and put them together. Make it even more challenging by turning the cards face down and asking them to find a particular card without peeking.
3. Art and craft: You can create a number of things with your child, from designing jewellery to building miniature homes.
Over five years
1. Ring games: The more the merrier; so if you have older children, get them involved too. This is a good way to share with them something that you probably played as a child.
2. Hopscotch: Invite your child's friends over to play in this game. You can even allow them to draw the boxes with sidewalk chalk.
3. Board games: These games can be bought or you can make your own.
4. Hide and seek: This is the grown up version of peek a boo and is a good game to play indoors when it's raining.
5. Dandy Shandy: Young children are full of energy and this is a great way to use energy up.