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Five Ways to Play with Babies and Toddlers
Some people feel like they aren't "baby people" because they're not sure if they understand how to play or communicate with little ones. Babies and toddlers may not know how to speak words, but they can certainly communicate if you take the time to observe.The following Take Five tips will help you make the most of your child's playtime?
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Follow Your Child's Lead   
Offer an object, toy, or activity to your baby or toddler and then sit back and see what they do with it. It's okay if it's not the "right" way. Let them show you their "new way".
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Go Slow 
It's great to show your child how a toy works, but hold off on "doing it for them". For example, begin stacking one block on another then encourage them to give it a try. Provide just enough help to keep frustration at bay as you motivate your child to learn new skills .
Take Five_3
Read Their Signals 
Little ones use sounds, facial expressions, and gestures in place of words to communicate. These signals will help you know when they're frustrated and need you to step in and change things up, or that they are doing an activity they enjoy and want to continue.
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Look at Your Play Space 
Is the area a child-safe place to explore? Is the space too noisy or filled with distractions? Is it appropriate for the activity you've chosen, such as running, throwing balls, or painting?  Choosing the right space can help prevent tantrums, accidents, or a broken lamp.
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Play it Again Sam
Doing the same things over and over again is not necessarily thrilling for moms and dads, but it is for young children. Repetition helps children master a challenge. When they can do it "all by myself" they are rewarded with a powerful sense of competency and confidence that they are smart and successful beings. The more they practice and master new skills, the more likely they are to take on new challenges and continue learning. So when you're tempted to hide that toy that you don't think you can stand playing with one more time, remember the essential role repetition plays in your child's development.

Q. I'm a new dad and haven't been around babies much. Some people seem to naturally know how to play with their baby, but I don't have a clue. Help!
A.  As a parent, you are your child's very first and favorite playmate.  Hold your baby, look at each other, make faces and sing. Watch them explore new places and objects with their hands, eyes and mouth.  Take note of what they can do today that they couldn't do just a few weeks ago. You will discover a whole new world through your baby's eyes! .

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