Everyday play

Dr. Katie Heathershaw, Fisher-Price Play IQ™ Expert & Paediatrician offers 21 everyday occasions when you can include play. Sometimes it can seem challenging to find enough time in the day for play with your baby or toddler, especially if you also work outside the home or have older children to think about. However, you don’t always need to set aside dedicated time to play; here are 21 everyday occasions to find an opportunity for play during the course of the day.

  1. Wake up: time for a quick game of up and down. As you greet your little one in the morning take the opportunity to swoop them ‘Up, up, up’ in your arms and into the air, making your voice go higher and higher, then pretend to drop them before quickly catching them again and scooping them into your arms saying ‘Down, down, down’ in a lower voice. This is only for older babies and toddlers who wake up in a good mood!
  2. FP Rainforest Comfort Curve Bouncer 1_1Getting ready/ dressed: How about a quick rendition of ‘Heads, shoulders, knees and toes’ complete with actions? It’s a great way for your child to learn these body parts and have some fun as they get dressed. If they are still very little then keep them entertained by popping them into Fisher-Price’s Rainforest Friends Comfort Curve Bouncer. It’s removable bar featuring two animals friends will encourage your little one to reach, whilst a soft seat with calming vibrations will soothe baby whilst you take a few precious moments to get yourself dressed!
  3. Nappy change: This is always a good opportunity for a bit of fun with a game of ‘Round and round the garden’, tickling on your baby’s tummy, hand or foot. From about 8 - 9 months babies will be anticipating the tickles with delight!
  4. Kitchen clean up: Designate a couple of child friendly drawers with plastic containers, wooden spoons and a couple of pots and pans for your little one to explore, bash and crash. This should keep them occupied whilst you clean up!
  5. FPElephant Soother 295x 260Make the beds: Gently sit on a bed with your baby in your arms and sing them a lullaby before their morning nap. If they are struggle to settle introduce them to Fisher-Price’s Calming Vibrations Cuddler Soother, which is a sweet elephant friend that will help calm them with soft humming music and gentle vibrations.  For older toddlers (with more energy!), this is the perfect opportunity for some bouncing with a vigorous round of ‘No more Monkeys jumping on the bed’, which is great for motor development and just good fun. Who doesn’t love bouncing!
  6. Sort the washing: A washing basket full of soft clothes is quite a secure vantage spot for a baby and enables your little one to be close by while you get on with this task whilst keeping a watchful eye on them. Older toddlers may have great fun rummaging and hiding under the clothes, or from about 15-18 months may even imitate you and ‘help’ with the sorting and folding. Don’t forget to use these opportunities to talk, talk, talk with your little one about what you are doing, what they are doing, the names of things, colours, etc. etc.!
  7. In the car: If your child is still rear facing when they travel in the car you can have a good singalong or put on some music to share. For older babies and toddlers you can start to talk about what you can both see and hear out the windows. At 12 months your child is likely to reach the Fisher-Price Play IQ milestone ‘The Listener’ which means they’ll be starting to understand much of what you say – so they’ll be taking in the journey as you talk to them about it. Visit the Fisher-Price Play IQ website to learn about this and other key milestones in your child’s developmental journey:
  8. Shopping: Many supermarkets and shops now have mini trolleys for little kids which may be appropriate for 2-3 year olds. If your child is up to this, give them a visual shopping list with a picture of a few items for them to find and put in their trolley or basket. This is a great opportunity for early numeracy skills – for example counting three apples and four pears.
  9. Post Office: Going to the post office may be a tedious errand for you, but fascinating for a toddler. Take a moment to lift your little one up to look at the scales and the PO boxes. Show them the big mail boxes outside and help them lift open the flap to see where the parcels go. If you're lucky you may see a postman!
  10. Out for a walk: If your little one is still in a stroller then talk about what you can see along the way as you enjoy a walk together. Older toddlers often love the challenge of walking along fences (holding your hand please) which is great for their balance. At the end of the fence get your child to ‘1, 2, 3 then jump!’ into your waiting arms. This is a particularly good activity at around 13 – 18 months when you’re little one will likely reach Fisher-Price’s ‘Walk the Walk’ milestone and become a confident walker.
  11. Nature Walk: Encourage your toddler to collect interesting nature items while you're out walking, such as autumn leaves, gumnuts, acorns, smooth stones and twigs. You can use these to make a collage when you get home and then show it to Mum or Dad when they come home later.
  12. At the park: This one is pretty self-explanatory when it comes to play equipment, which is great for physical development. However, there are also great opportunities for imaginative games in the park. You can pretend playing at ‘Café’, where the tan bark serves as both money and different food and drink items. Or play at being a princess stuck in a ‘tower’ (climbing frame) with a scary dragon underneath (let your little one take on the scary role!).
  13. Cooking: Toddlers can safely be involved with some aspects of cooking. Set up a sturdy stool next to you and give them a board and ‘butter’ knife to do some chopping and let them help with adding ingredients and mixing. There’s a good chance that children involved in preparing the food will be more interested in eating it!
  14. Naptime: A good way to wind down before a nap is to read a story. Your baby is never too young for this.
  15. Rainforest Gym 295x 260Outside play: Whilst older toddlers may enjoy playing in a sandpit or with a ride-on toy or trike, younger babies can have some tummy time on a blanket  or mat such as Fisher-Price’s Rainforest Friends Musical Gym, in the garden on a fine day. You could also take an engaging toy such as Fisher-Price’s Kick and Play Piano Gym outside so baby will be entertained while you can get on with a few garden chores!
  16. Paperwork: We all have to do it but what to do with an inquisitive toddler whilst sorting papers? Put them to work too! Set your toddler up at a small table with their own ‘paperwork’, some self-inking stamps, stickers and some chubby crayons. Don’t forget to give your little one lots of praise and encouragement for getting their work done.
  17. Housework: Again, a necessary ‘evil’! There comes a point where it is no longer possible to get all the household chores done while your little one is napping so you’ll need to find a way to make them think it’s play! The good news is anything IS play to a curious toddler, so let your little one help out. From about 15 months they will often reach the Fisher-Price Play IQ milestone ‘Housetrained’, meaning they’ll be keen to imitate you in your household chores.
  18. Dance Party: After all that hard work it’s time for some fun! Studies have shown that music is beneficial for children’s development and dancing is good for their physical health, so crank up the tunes and get dancing! Toddlers love to look at themselves so if there is an area where there is a mirror, even better.
  19. Dinner time: Try to avoid too many distractions and certainly don’t have screens on during mealtimes. Let your little one explore their food with his hands or use a spoon and then taste it. Praise them for trying new foods. If they start throwing food on the floor, try not to react, just calmly remove it and move on. Meal times should be a happy family time to be together, where you talk and listen to each other and hear about each others’ days. Try not to become overly focused on how many bites of food make it into your baby’s mouth!
  20. Bath time: A great opportunity for some play! Blow bubbles, find some different containers or squirty bottles and play with some toy ducks or boats, complete with silly sound effects.
  21. Bed time: Stick to a consistent routine so your child feels secure and knows what to expect each night. Share a quiet story book on the couch before saying goodnight to other family members and taking them off to bed after a busy day.

This article was published in association with Fisher Price.


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