9 milestones you can help your baby reach through play
Whether your baby is a charming social butterfly, an avid learner or a curious explorer, there are plenty of tools and toys to help them build the skills they need at each stage of their development.
learn through play

Every parent wants to make sure their baby is meeting their developmental milestones. But did you know there are play milestones too?

Physical milestones

The most obvious milestones that people seem to focus on are the physical, or gross motor ones. 

Here are some examples of physical milestones:

Head turner (approximately 3 months)

Your baby can now turn their head towards a sound and watch you speak.

Helping hand (approximately 10 months)

Your baby may start trying to walk with help.

Steady sit (approximately 11 months)

Your baby can pull themselves up and sit securely.

To reach these milestones you want toys that encourage younger babies to sit and play.

Social & emotional milestones

A few examples of social & emotional milestones include:

All smiles (approximately 2 months)

Your baby begins to smile at people and coo.

Name knower (approximately 7 months)

Your baby recognises names of people and things.

Favourite sounds (approximately 10 months)

Your baby begins to show preferences for the different sounds they hear in language.

You are the best toy to encourage the social and emotional development of your baby. A tuned-in, observant and responsive caregiver, along with plenty of opportunity for unstructured, child-led play, are the most important tools for social and emotional development. Spend face-to-face time with your young baby, gently talking, smiling, singing and responding. Move on to turn-taking with older babies, and then to imaginative pretending with toddlers.

Cognitive milestones

This is about your baby using their senses to learn. You want toys that encourage natural curiosity and creativity.

Here are some examples of cognitive milestones:

Curious baby (approximately 4 months)

Your baby starts to recognise familiar faces and takes an interest in others.

Thoughtful gestures (approximately 9 months)

Your baby uses deliberate gestures, such as waving bye-bye or waving their arms to say “Pick me up!”

The planner (approximately 13-18 months)

Your baby can string together ideas to form a basic plan.

Reading, talking, singing and playing music will all encourage good communication skills in your child. Long before they understand the actual words, they understand the tone and sentence patterns of your speech. Look for toys with lots of different sounds to play with.

Multiple milestones

Keen to encourage a number of milestones at once? You can!

Encouraging multiple milestones (all ages)

Your baby can develop a combination of physical, social & emotional and cognitive skills at once.

Toys like building blocks that may seem quite simple can develop a number of different skills at the same time. These can include cognitive skills like problem-solving and planning when building a tower or bridge; social and emotional development when coping with a tower falling or turn-taking with a parent; and physical development when reaching, grasping and manipulating. These skills will be tracking along nicely without you even really thinking about it!

This article was written by Sabrina Rogers-Anderson as part of the 'Play to Learn' campaign for Fisher Price, and has been adapted for Kidspot NZ.

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