Before you pick up the phone to ask the paediatrician, or your laptop to Google about the not-so-often-heard-about ‘Vitamin P’, which promises to do wonders to your kids, let me clarify – it’s not the organic kind I’m referring to.
It’s something we have all had aplenty, during our childhood, particularly during infancy. P for ‘Play’. And nothing recharges a baby’s mind and body as Vitamin P! No matter how old one gets, we all need a break from the routine, don’t we? Well, a baby is no different.
The importance of playtime in a baby’s life can never be overstated. To start with, it’s the time when a baby gets a welcome diversion from the monotonous sight of the ceiling and the rather hindered view of the world outside, through the slats of her crib. It’s the time when the baby learns to be happy! It’s the time when the oh-so-curious baby instinctively starts exploring and experiencing all the things that form her cute, innocent little world and more, gleefully employing her five senses – in some cases, even the sixth! And above all, it’s bonding time with mummy, papa, siblings and friends-to-be!
Playing is no doubt mandatory, as it helps develop the social, psychological, cognitive and motor skills of a child, which results into enhancement of existing potentialities and spawns new ones. Sounds like an avalanche of scientific jargons? Never mind. You’ll learn many things along the way, just as your baby will. Ok, just to knock off your curiosity, simply put, playing helps enhance a child’s faculties of hearing, sight, smell, touch, taste & equilibrium, her creativity, reasoning, reflex action, sense of space and more.
Now, the nicest part is that for a kid, playing doesn’t necessarily mean playing a sport that involves strenuous physical activity. For a new born, it could be something as simple as a rattle that instantly grabs her attention with its bright colours and percussive sounds – the first sign of an ever-so-distracted baby’s concentration sharpening. It could be a cute soft toy, or a squeaking one, or an inflated ball she can play with. Slightly grown-up babies could be handed a pencil or crayons to scribble on paper – if you are a doting and liberal parent, you could well let the freshly painted walls of your house become the canvas for your baby’s first masterpiece. While scribbling, a child learns much more than shapes, colours and proportions; they learn to feel free, express and enjoy themselves.
The simpler the activity, the better. Playing peekaboo, ‘chhupa-chhupi’ (hide and seek) – no, you aren’t hiding from your enemies, hiding behind the curtain is just fine; swinging the baby in your soothing arms or turning into a rocking chair – your knees serving as the seat for your baby, while you rock back and forth on your backbone (no, trust me, it doesn’t hurt); or simply engaging in ‘sweet talks’, addressing your baby by various names (coined or borrowed) like ‘meri guddi’, mera babloo’, ‘mera golu’, ‘mera shonu’ (your chance to add to this endless list), Phew! Imagine the sense of belonging that grows every time you call your baby ‘mera’.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on and on. But, I’d rather that you and your baby discover the many joys and benefits of a baby’s playtime. It’s playtime, baby! Go ahead, enjoy with your little ‘bundle of joys’!