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Developmental play expert explains the best ways to play with baby

Mom and dad are babies’ first teachers – their first windows into the world. Playing with, talking to, and interacting with baby are some of the best ways parents can help with baby’s development, during those earliest months. But many parents aren’t quite sure where to start. What do you talk to a baby about, anyway?

We reached out to Kathleen Alfano, Ph.D, a child development and play specialist, for ideas , using the new Baby Einstein 2-in-1 Lights & Sea Activity Gym & Saucer as inspiration. Let’s start playing!

playing with baby in baby einstein lights & sea activity saucer


1. Playing with baby during tummy time

Even when baby’s just a newborn, there are lots of ways you can begin to play. A play gym, like the Lights & Sea activity gym, is a great way to start.

Alfano suggests, “Talk to baby about objects and graphics located on the toy to encourage baby’s ever-increasing listening (receptive) vocabulary and introduce words in context to support language development – ‘See the orange star,’ or ‘That’s a yellow fish.’”

More suggestions for engaging baby during tummy time include:

  • Place toys on either side of your baby, to encourage him or her to turn their head
  • Move the location of hanging toys so baby can grab and kick at toys from new angles
Baby Einstein Tummy Time Play - 2-in-1 Lights & Sea Activity Gym & Saucer

2. Playing with baby in an activity center

When baby gets a little older, an activity saucer is another great way to engage baby with toys and activities, while giving him/her a new way to view the world.

“When baby has enough upper body strength to sit and play in the saucer seat, the new position provides a fresh view of the surroundings and toy activities,” says Alfano.

The 2-in-1 Lights & Sea Saucer is the only activity center with ConnectMe, a feature that lets you connect your smart phone! Use it to customize baby’s entertainment with favorite photos, play your favorite tunes – even video chat with Grandma!

More ideas for playing with baby in the saucer:

Even when baby’s just a newborn, there are lots of ways you can begin to play. A play gym, like the Lights & Sea activity gym, is a great way to start.

  • When baby’s looking in the mirror, point out his or her features like eyes, nose, and mouth
  • When playing with the toys (like the clam shell toy), use words like “open” showing the clam shell opening, and “close” showing the clam shell closing
  • Count along with the music, pointing out the numbers, colors & shapes
  • Using the ConnectMe feature and your smart phone, let baby view photos of family members, pets, and other familiar things or places


3. Playing with baby throughout the day

When you’re not using an activity center or toy, there are still plenty of ways to support baby’s development through play. The simplest way? Talk to baby.

Alfano advises all parents, “Talk to baby often throughout the day. The more baby hears words spoken, the larger baby’s vocabulary will become. Hearing words individually and in conversations is the foundation for baby’s language development.”

Other ideas include:

  • When away from the light-up toy, use household lights to reinforce the concept of on/off, letting baby “help” you
  • Expand the toy content to real life by counting on baby’s fingers, toes, and other things as you go about your day

While there are always opportunities to engage and play with baby, anywhere you go, a product like the Baby Einstein 2-in-1 Lights & Sea Activity Gym & Saucer is a great way to get started. Since it can be used during various developmental stages (growing with baby from a play gym to a saucer), it’s the perfect tool for new parents.

Alfano concludes, “The 2-in-1 Lights & Sea Activity Gym engages baby’s senses with its variety of colors, lights, sounds, textures and activities and supports baby’s development of fine and gross motor skills, starting when baby is a small infant on the play mat batting and kicking at the toys, to when baby is strong enough to sit in the seat and activate the toys.”

Read more articles about First Year Baby Gear


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