Even Your Baby Can Go On a Playdate!

It's fun to watch your 8 month-old baby checking out another baby. One look at your child's face and you have to admit, "Hey! She has never given ME that kind of look". Well, things stand this way: Your child might be going through yet another phase in development. You have played with her, you have given her some playtime alone and probably now is the time to introduce her to a playdate.

Playdates for Babies? But They are Just Infants
When it comes to playdates for infants, parents might be a bit edgy. After all, it took time before your baby started playing with you. And some more effort went into making your child get used to playing alone.

Usually, infants up to 12 months respond more when they are left alone to play. So it's absolutely fine to preoccupy your child with her teddy or her building blocks. This playtime gives a boost to her physical and cognitive development. Her grasping and clutching abilities improve along with her visual and comprehension skills.

However, children are also born with social skills, a fact that many parents forget about their babies.

Social skills of babies are more developed than we think them to be. Infants enjoy people's company and will smile, laugh and perform for you and other close family members. But the moment she sees a stranger, poof goes her smile, laughter and performance.

While this stage is normal, you may still want to slowly introduce playdates so that your baby gets used to being around with others like her.

Playdate Activities
With a little effort, you can enhance your baby's first social experience and make her comfortable with playing with someone else her age. But be aware that your baby won't really "play" with other babies. She is more likely to watch them and might even interact with them by hitting, touching, or grabbing. Although it may not seem all that friendly, it is perfectly normal.

To help things run a bit smoother, try out these playdate activities:

  • Give the babies items and activities such as bubbles, Play Doh, large Legos, or other age-appropriate games or place them in a sandbox. These things will encourage cooperative play more than anything else.
  • Plan a swim session. Most of babies love water. Your baby will enjoy hearing noises he thought only he could make.
  • Play catch. Throw in a ball for the kids to catch. You never know, they might just start playing with it among themselves.

Playdate Dos and Donts
Because a playdate is the first time you introduce your child to another baby, it is important to follow certain playdate guidelines:

  • Don't make a playdate last for more than 2 hours. A baby's attention span is quite short and they usually go off to sleep after a round of play.
  • Infants are very dependent on their mothers for feeding, diaper changes, etc. It might be a good idea if parents of both the babies are around to supervise.
  • You know how delicate babies can be. So watch out for telltale signs of illness in your child before a playdate. Find out if the other baby is fit and fine as well.
  • Your child might be used to a certain kind of daily routine. Plan a playdate with a baby who has a similar routine. One child going off to sleep might bring an abrupt end to the playdate.
  • Make a safety checklist. You can set aside a play area and close the doors to any rooms you do not want your babies to enter.

A Bit of This, a Bit of That!
Playdates would not be a regular thing for your infant. However, you can plan other activities to improve your child's social skills. Here are some things you can try out:

  • Respond to baby talk and speak to them at every opportunity.
  • You can have your baby sit with the family at the dinner table. Give her something to play with. She can just play and watch as others interact around her.
  • Your child might be too young to learn about caring and sharing. But as infants absorb a lot, you can show your child how to share with simple actions. Babies play a lot of "take it and give it to me" with things. Just say "thank you" everytime you play this game with him.

Playing is a learning experience for children. But we should not forget that playing, with or without playdates, should always be fun and not a chore.