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You don't need to buy expensive toys to keep your baby or toddler busy. The things you have around your home can make the best toys - like empty egg boxes, or plastic fruit trays with dents, or shoeboxes.
Once your baby can sit up without support, a whole new world of play possibilities open up. They begin to be able to control hand and body movements, and enjoy activities that develop those skills. For instance, your baby or toddler can place a different coloured toy brick (or something else they can't swallow) into each dent of a recycled container.
Here's a fun toy you can make out of a shoebox with a lid - a variation on an old fairground game called "feed the clown". Paint the lid to make a smiling clown's face, or if you prefer, a baby's face or an animal face. Cut a slit for the mouth, and put the lid back on the box. Then cut out circles the size of biscuits from another piece of cardboard, for instance from a cereal box.
Let your older baby or toddler "feed the clown" by dropping cardboard biscuits into its mouth. Talk out loud as they do it - "one biscuit, two, three....oh yummy, the clown likes those biscuits".
Play is one of the main ways that babies and toddlers learn about the world – it’s also one of the most effective ways they learn. When a child plays they refine learning skills that continue to develop during childhood and beyond.
As a parent, you are your child’s best playmate so try to spend time every day playing together. As your baby gets older, don’t try to teach them anything during play. They will learn best if they choose what to play and you follow their lead.
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