Babies and toddlers are in a constant state of learning – they don’t wait until school starts.  During the early years your child is learning every single second of every day and parents are the natural teachers.  If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by this responsibility, don’t worry – you don’t need to become a brilliant teacher.  Most of the teaching you do will be common sense stuff that just comes naturally.  As you go through your daily routines, you will be naturally teaching your baby all the time.

Photo courtesy of Harald Groven (Flickr)

Photo courtesy of Harald Groven (Flickr)

Talking and Playing are Tops

Every time you communicate with your baby, you’re teaching him/her communication skills.  Whether it’s words, songs, body language or eye contact – these are all effective methods of communication that are invaluable to your baby as he begins to communicate with you and everybody else around him.

Playing is the most valuable resource and the more time you spend playing with baby, the better.   Yes, there are other things that you need to do such as the shopping, the housework, socialising and running the rest of your busy life, but baby can be involved in some of these activities and will benefit greatly from joining in.

Don’t Try to be a Domestic Goddess

The housework might seem like one of the most important of these activities and may seem like quite a challenge when you have a baby to take care of 24 hours a day.  Taking a more relaxed attitude about the housework is probably a good idea at this stage.  If this is your first baby, you need to take onboard the idea that your house is never going to look like a show home – it’s now a family home and family homes are a little bit messy and disorganised by nature.  Don’t let this get on top of you – as long as the dishes and laundry get done regularly and everywhere else is reasonably clean, that’s great.

Online Resources for Parents

Your main job now is playing with your baby, which is great fun.  Try to make sure that you arrange plenty of play dates with other parents and babies – this is a great way for you to socialise.  Check out Facebook groups in your area for young parents – Facebook seems to be one of the most popular ways for parents to communicate and make friends these days.

There are plenty of resources online for play ideas and activities for both you and your baby. Netmums is a great first stop for all types of advice – registration is free and you’ll be joining one of the most prominent of online communities.

Baby toys may seem very expensive, especially the ones specially designed to promote learning and help your baby develop.  Yes, these toys are great and we all want the very best for our children, however some of the price tags may seem prohibitive.  Don’t worry; most of these toys can be picked up in great condition on eBay for a fraction of the cost of buying new.

However, you don’t always need to buy expensive toys and equipment – there are plenty of substitutes hanging around your house.  A brilliant resource for alternative toy and play ideas is The Imagination Tree blog created by Anna, a primary school teacher who specialises in early years education.  Anna is now a stay at home mum and her blog is full of ideas and advice for play activities designed to promote all six areas of learning.  What’s even better is that Anna shows how you can help your kids to learn and keep them entertained without having to spend a small fortune on all the very latest toys.  The blog is very intuitive and user friendly, with activities grouped by both age and area of learning so that you can choose activities that are just right for your baby at any stage of development.  To get an idea of just what an important job playing with your baby is, read Anna’s post on the Central Importance of Play.

Being at home with your baby can be the best time of your life – much more fun and more rewarding than a job could ever be.  Make the most of this precious time and make the most of the resources available which will help you learn to teach your baby.

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