It seemed to happen overnight. My little girl has gone from exploring her playroom to actually playing in her playroom like a real toddler!
If your child is past this stage, maybe you remember the week where your baby started actually 'playing' with her toys instead of drooling and chewing all over them. Or maybe your baby hasn't reach this stage yet, but beware, it's around the corner.
She now cuddles her baby doll, opens all the sound doors to her Little People Farm and is actually typing on her new toy laptop like a grown adult! Then, last night she fed me with her play kitchen spoon and then starting stirring her pot with it. Just adorable.
She's not really doing 'pretend play' yet, but she is getting there. Most play at this age is what your child has witnessed and observed from her parents as she is imitating you.
The best way to play with a baby at this age is to follow their lead. This is what we do in play therapy. We let the child lead in their play and we follow. For instance, if your child picks up the toy Lion, you can repeat the name and make the animal sound that goes with it. That way they are increasing their vocabulary and teaching them animal sounds. You don't have to have a bunch of fancy educational toys.
Also, by letting your child lead in play, they are learning to express themselves and play on their own. Creating independence. If you keep building them towers and 'doing' all of the toys for them, then they won't learn problem solving skills and it inhibits their creativity.
My Baby's First Year Journal just ended and I have been looking for another one for the next year to track all of her new play achievements and milestones. It seems like every day she is doing something new! The only one I have found is called the Baby Tracker and is a 3-ring binder/organizer so you can continue to add to it. It doesn't have a lot of space to write in it but it will have to do the trick.
One of the best new development achievements she had was last night while reading her a bedtime story. She recognized words and pictures from her favorite book Kiss Goodnight! She looked up at me with her sleepy eyes and smiled right before I got to her favorite part when the momma bear kisses her baby bear, and says, "she bent way down and kissed him once, twice and then twice more!" She knew that part was coming and started smiling before I even kissed her head like I always do. I had her Daddy do the same tonight, and she did it with him too! Got a real big grin on her face and was giggling, waiting for him to kiss her little forehead! So amazing as the previous night, no reaction, but last night she just knew.
I have a feeling there will be a new 'ah-ha' moment each day for many years to come!