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Play with Your Baby

Celebrate Your New Family As An Occasion For Playful Learning

~ By Mary Alice Long

There are many ways to play unique to each person, place, and time. As we grow and develop, we learn and enjoy life more when we play. New parents can learn and grow right along with their children by being fully present and playing.

Parenting is a profound responsibility. Parents can maintain a balance between the challenges and joys of parenting by remembering that play is the essence of true learning. Play and you are more curious, find more unexpected pleasures, learn moment-to-moment, and create new responses based on what you’ve experienced through play.

Newborns play with nipples; children then turn to sand and toy trucks. If play is the optimum state for learning and well-being why don’t adults play? Play or bringing a playful attitude into all that we do is the special ingredient that offers a full and joyful life.

Play & Love: Mom & Dad

When you play as parents you experience something new and can create more easily using your imagination. Whether you play the piano, love gardening and digging in the dirt, or leap out the door every morning for your run—the ways that you play are chosen by you. The choices that you make as a playful parent effect that well-being of you and your children as you grow and learn together.

Try these simple written exercises and see what emerges:

  • I remember playing with ______________________________as a child.
  • If I had the time I would enjoy _______________.
  • If it did not sound crazy, I would like to ____________.

Fill in the blanks for each statement several times. Then, select one way to play and create today! Take playful action!

Play & Love: Baby and You

Playing with babies is a natural. Babies play in utero after all! As humans, our bodies create the shapes of our lives; drive or thrust us into the world, swing us into action, and remind us that we are only human and need to rest, breathe, stop, and enjoy life. As you spend time with your infant or baby you will notice that her body assumes many different shapes. She sometimes thrusts a foot, an arm, or cry your way, that her voice can be powerful and loud (it is impossible to ignore a baby’s cry), and when she is sleeping there is yes! divine stillness. Babies let us know how they are feeling through their cries, coos, smiles, and laughter as they grow and develop.

[*she was chosen for simplicity of wording (apologies to all baby boys)]

Just  a few of the many Ways to Play with your baby:

  • Dancing with your baby with or without music in your living room and outdoors in your backyard
  • Go on walks together in your neighborhood, in a local park, or take a hike or walk on the beach.
  • Peek-a-Boo
  • Always wanted to be a Diva! Sing to your baby and make up the song as you go along-she’ll love it!
  • Read to your baby for the sheer enjoyment of her hearing your voice. (Babies learn their language skills by listening to the voices of those who play with them).
  • Tell your story to your son or daughter, share your family history, use your imagination and create a story, or talk about your day. (Babies listen and connect through physical, intellectual, and emotional channels. By sharing physically, emotionally, and through the sound of your voice you are playfully building a loving relationship with your baby).
  • Show-and-Tell (many kitchen items such as wooden spatulas, timers, shiny objects are great—remember your baby is taking in EVERYTHING! the world has to offer so be inventive and have fun!—also, take some of your silks, rough, smooth garments, and play with texture and the sensation of touch)
  • Play is the key to contentment. This article is only a taste of the many ways that parents can choose to play for themselves and with their children. Follow nature’s playful plan for all, no matter what your age. Parents who play create a happier life for themselves and their children.

About The Author

Mary Alice Long, PhD is creator/owner of Play=Peace. As a Jungian therapist, writer, teacher, and writer she emphasizes the importance of play and its benefits for all ages. You can reach Dr. Long by writing or by visiting her facebook page

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