The Importance of Play

May 31, 2024


Five Developmental Benefits of Play

By guest authors Amy Williams DNP. APRN, CPRNP-PC and Joy A Lauerer DNP PMHCNS BC
Baby girl sitting on living room floor playing with a barbell rattle.

Featured toy: Toadstool Twist & Shake rattle

Welcome parents and caregivers. You are super heroes to your little ones. And for good reason! You open their eyes, mind and bodies to the world, encouraging them to explore all life has to offer. And it all starts with, what we believe is, the most wonderful form of learning - through play! But don't take our word for it. Hear from two of our childhood experts on the importance of play in development to discover 5 key benefits to playing with your child. 

Early parent and child bonding helps lay the foundation for secure attachment and establishes trust in a child's development. Secure attachment is the structure in which baby learns to trust and develop healthy relationships. Children who have secure attachments tend to be happier, kinder, socially competent, and more trusting of others. Also, they have better relationships with parents, siblings, and friends. Therefore, play is critical for early child-caregiver relationship building.

As a parent or primary caregiver, you are your child’s first playmate and playtime supports and strengthens the bond you have with your infant. Play is crucial to develop early attachment and can begin as early as the first month of life. But, like all things, moderation is key. Play should be brief, intentional and follow baby’s cues. If baby seems tired, fussy, hungry or needs a diaper change simply pause your play to take care of these important needs.

Featured toy: Whistelball Colorpop

Wondering where to begin?

Floor time is an excellent way to introduce play as early as one month of age. For successful tummy time get down on the floor while baby is on the play mat and lay down, so you are directly at level. This will help them find you less intimidating. Be mindful of baby’s cues and if they seem fussy, tired, hungry, or not interested in play, address their immediate needs first. Remember that your baby’s tolerance for play and floor time is different than others. Your baby might tolerate floor time for a shorter period of time. Also, know that play is essential to a baby’s physical and emotional well-being and that throughout a child’s life playtime will change as they develop new skills.

Dad and baby seated on couch playing with a soft peek-a-boo mirror toy

Featured toy: Wimmer™ Peek & Go Mirror

5 developmental benefits of playtime:

1. Secure attachment: Engaging with your baby through play, attachment, and bonding activities helps build your relationship and is important to their emotional well-being.

2. Emotional regulation: Being conscious of your child's needs and interacting with them from birth helps them learn to self-regulate and sets the foundation for later success in emotional regulation.

3. Building decision making skills: Play is known to help toddlers with decision making and supports development of compassion and empathy.

4. Self-esteem: Play allows children to feel belonging and connectedness, which are important predictors of self-esteem.

5. Instilling self-care: An additional benefit of playing is that it can role model self-care and be the foundation upon which children learn these many essential skills for success later in life.

Play on caregivers; play on. 

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