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Special Edition Article: Playing to Learn/Learning to Play

Play can be a part of the child’s daily care-taking routines. When you feed, change diapers, dress, have the baby in the grocery cart or are just doing normal household chores, you can talk to, sing to, play peek-a-boo with, wiggle the baby’s toes, clap your hands or whatever appeals to you and your infant.

By Randy Lee Comfort, MSW, Ph.D, OBE

Your baby needs and wants a playmate, and you, the parent/caregiver are the very best partner your child can have. Although infants are born ready to play, they can only learn to do so by having someone else with whom to interact. Decades of research have shown that infants’ attempts to engage will diminish quite quickly if no one responds to their effortsi,ii,iii,iv. However, even small gestures such as eye contact, a smile, or a clapping of hands will encourage the baby to seek interaction.

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