Spring Play Ideas for Babies and Toddlersby Dr. Amanda Gummer
The evenings are getting lighter and the blossom is starting to bloom - we’re heading into Spring at last! Here are a few tips for playing with your little lamb during Springtime that can help support their development.
Play ideas for 0-6 months
A lot of play at this age is sensory such as how things sound, taste, and feel. This is your baby’s first experience of Spring so take them out and let them smell the grass and hear the birds. Try explaining to your baby what's around them - they won’t understand you, but surrounding your baby with language is great for their development.
You could also sing some Spring-themed nursery rhymes to your baby, such as “five little ducks” or “Mary had a little lamb”. You could hold your baby and have a little dance as you sing, or even give them a rattle to join in.
Play ideas for 6-12 months
Take your baby out for a walk and pick a few flowers, leaves, and grass clippings while you’re there. Fill a zip-lock bag about a third full with water, add your nature items, then seal it and tape it to the window, table, or highchair.
Let your child squish the bag with their hands and enjoy watching everything moving around. This can help support their hand-eye coordination and understanding of cause and effect - “if I poke this, it moves!”. You could also name the objects and colours for your baby as they play.
Play ideas for 12-24 months
On a spare piece of card, draw a simple outline of a flower and cut it out. Pop some paint onto a plate - this makes it easier for little hands to get to - and let your toddler decorate the flower. Spring colours like green, yellow, pink, purple and blue will look great.
Finger painting is great for learning about colours, so encourage your child to mix the paint up to see what new colours they can make. It’s also ideal for strengthening the muscles in their hands that will be needed for holding a pencil to write (fine motor control). If your child has good grip already, consider letting them use a cork, potato stamps, or a sponge to further develop their fine motor skills.
If your child likes to explore with their mouth, you could also swap the paint for edible paint made from cornstarch, water, and food colouring.
Play ideas for 24-36 months
Get your toddler involved in gardening! They’ll love pulling weeds, helping sow the seeds, and watering the plants with their own special watering can. This is a great way to introduce children to how plants grow to support early science skills.
If you’re growing fruits and vegetables, you can use this to show your child where food comes from too. This can also help encourage your youngster to try new foods - nothing tastes better than a strawberry or tomato you’ve grown yourself.
You can still do this even if you don’t have a garden by planting a grass or cress head, or a broad bean in a jar instead. As these all grow quickly they can be very rewarding for your toddler because they can soon see the fruits of their labour.
Spring is the perfect time to explore some new colours, smells, and sounds through play and this is a great way to help your baby’s brain grow. But most of all, these activities can be lots of fun and help you bond with your little one.