There’s no greater joy than seeing your twins smile and laugh, whether it’s at you or with you! Playtime for babies is not only fun for you both, but it’s how they develop and learn. Your babies staring at your face may not seem like a learning opportunity, but it can be. With purposeful play, you can encourage early learning through ordinary activities.
Purposeful play is focused play. It’s spending one-on-one, or in our cases, one-on-two time, with our children and teaching them instead of just letting them play. It’s as simple as describing your facial features to them during one of their endless gazes at your nose and mouth, or playing peek-a-boo, patty cake and hide-and-seek. It’s been said so many times that babies are sponges, so what better way to foster their education than to make every day games and activities more meaningful?
Here are some ideas for purposeful play with your twins throughout the first year:
Newborn to three months
Break the silence! Talk to them, sing to them, and carry on conversations with yourself. You will feel very odd, but they will be entranced with your voice, and they won’t judge you on your singing capabilities. It’s so easy to get into a quiet routine and forget that babies are watching every move we make. Talking to them and describing your actions helps stimulate them, and encourages speech and communication. You could also break the silence by barking like a dog, mooing like a cow or making some other animal noise. It will surely grab their attention and cause you to have a good laugh at yourself! Great toys for this age include: toy mirrors, small hand toys like rattles, play mats like this Super Mat fit for two babies or more from Tiny Love, and mobiles such as the Fisher Price Discover n’ Grow Twinkling Lights Mobile.
Three to six months
This is a great age to introduce tickle fights and games like ‘I’m going to get you.’ They’re becoming more responsive to your silly animal sounds and horrible dance moves, so keep moving and talking, and encourage them to imitate you. Play peek-a-boo, patty cake and ‘this little piggy’ are perfect. Tummy time is most likely their favorite activity at this age, so you could lay down with them and read to them or encourage them to move around by placing objects just out of reach. Great toys for this age include: colorful teething rings, board books and squeaky toys.
Sensory play with discovery bottles is a great make-at-home activity that will provide hours (okay, minutes) of fun! Grab a few empty drink bottles and fill them with small balls, confetti/sequins, buttons, colored rice, water/glitter or anything else you can think of. Put them and your twins down in the middle of the room with no other toys around for distractions, and let them “discover.” They’ll learn cause and effect, colors, sounds and shapes. Great toys for this age include: Sensory balls like these from Nubby, board books, stuffed animals, and your wooden spoons and measuring cups!
Nine to twelve months
Introduce hide-and-seek to your twins. This can be played by you hiding and them finding you, or showing them how to hide from and find each other. Hiding underneath stuffed animals and asking your twins to come find you, will surely get their attention. When they get close, pop out, tickle them, and cue the laughter! You can also go a step farther and hide objects from them. For example, let them watch you hide a ball or bigger toy under a blanket. Ask them to find the toy. To begin, leave a bit of the toy poking out. As they get the hang of it, you can decrease the size of the objects you are hiding and completely cover them. Hide-and-seek teaches object permanence, cause and effect, problem-solving, and strengthens memory skills. Great toys for this age include: push toys such as the Fisher Price Brilliant Basics Musical Walker, shape sorters, colorful stacking cups like these from Babies R Us, and toy telephones.
Once your twins are a year old, they’ll probably already be saying a few words. This is a great time to focus on early language learning and object recognition. Gather up several toys (balls are easiest to start with) that are the same but different colors and sizes. Next, place your twins in the middle of the balls and tell them what the name of the toy is. Let them look and pick up all of the balls, and ask them what they are. Say the name of the toy over and over, and ask them to repeat you. Encourage them to hide and find the ball. You could also take this opportunity to practice numbers and counting. Once they have gotten the idea of what a ball is, show them two toys. Hold the ball in one hand and another small, similar toy, such as a block, in the other hand. Ask them which one is the ball. These activities encourage listening and communication, object recognition, memory skills and thinking. Great toys for this age include: Ride-a-long toys, such as the V-Tech Alphabet Train, rocking horses or giraffes, like this one from Fisher Price, and building blocks.
Steffany Duke is a blogger at Spit and Sparkles, where she shares her adventures of raising boy/girl twins as a stay-at-home mom. She is an ovarian cancer survivor, former journalist and political junkie. She loves crafting, finding great coupon deals and pretending how to bake. You can also find her on Facebook, twitter and instagram.
Related article: The First Year of Milestones
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