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Playing With Babies and Toddlers: A Review of Gymboree’s The Parent’s Guide to Play

The Parent's Guide to Play

Learn Games and Songs to Play With Babies

Children often seem to be boundless sources of energy and playfulness, and sometimes it can be hard for parents to come up with structured ideas for playtime. Gymboree’s book, The Parent’s Guide to Play [Firefly Books, 2006], by Dr. Wendy S. Masi and Dr. Roni Cohen Leiderman, provides a wealth of age-appropriate games, songs and activities for parents to enjoy with their children. This book is perfect for providing inspiration for activities and games to play with babies and toddlers on rainy winter days when you’re stuck inside, for brand-new parents and for experienced parents looking for a fresh new approach to playing with their children.

Playtime for Babies

The Parent’s Guide to Play is broken down into eight sections according to the age of the child, from newborn to two and a half. For infants under three months, ideas include gently rocking the child’s tummy on a towel, providing sensory stimuli such as colorful mobiles or tickling feathers, looking in a mirror together and listening to lullabies.

The sections on playing with older babies include blowing bubbles, rolling a ball and singing clapping songs. Each activity page has a photo of a parent and child doing the activity and playing together, and a sidebar titled Skill Spotlight highlights the skills and developmental milestones each activity stimulates. Similar activities are highlighted at the bottom of each page, so if you know your little mozart likes listening to music, you can find descriptions of other auditory games you can play together.

Activities for Toddlers

Toddlers are busy little people with newfound skills such as walking and talking, and increased fine motor skills. From twelve months to two and a half, The Parent’s Guide to Play offers suggestions for activities to stimulate physical development and body awareness, language development and listening skills, as well as many other areas of development. Interspersed between the activities and songs are focused articles on safety and child-proofing, age-specific developmental issues and the ways children learn through play. These parental tips help parents learn what is normal, such as toddlers love of repetitive play, and how children learn through the activities they share with their parents.

The Parent’s Guide to Play is the perfect gift for new parents, who might be wondering how to play and interact with a newborn, or for parents of spirited toddlers who are looking for new games to play together. The songs and activities included in this book cover a broad range of developmental areas with a focus on fun and parental involvement.

Originally published on Suite101.com on January 25, 2008.

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