child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive growth. It’s your child’s way of learning about his body and the world, and he’ll use all five senses to do it, especially in the first year. What does this feel like when I touch it? What does this sound like when I squeeze it? What will happen if I push this or pull that? Crawl over there? Pull myself up on this?
Exploration is the heart of play, and in your child’s mind any experiment counts, even hurling a bowl of cereal off the highchair tray. Development experts are fond of saying that play is the work of children (and cleaning up after play seems to be the work of parents).
As your child moves into the toddler years, his play will become more imaginative and complex. Through play, he’ll exercise key skills and qualities, such as independence, creativity, curiosity, and problem-solving. It can also be an important place to explore feelings and values and develop social skills. Long before your child feels comfortable sharing his favorite toy with his sister, he may offer it to a doll. His first spontaneous “please” and “thank you” may slip out at an imaginary tea party. And what parent can resist wasting a perfectly good bandage the first time her child says his teddy got hurt?