Help your baby to learn and develop

Babies learn and develop by watching, by listening and by doing. Your baby will learn best from the time you spend with them.

Child playing
Your baby may start to move around after 6 months of age so they will need to have safe places to play and learn. This page has ideas for things that you (and your whānau) can do to help your baby to learn.

Learning and developing

Your baby will learn and develop best of all from the time that you and other whānau spend with them – talking, reading and playing.

Playing and being active

Most of the best ‘toys’ for your baby at this age are in your home – for example, pots and pans and cardboard boxes. Play simple games like peek-a-boo. Point out and name things that can be seen and heard. Sing and tell stories. Read books to your baby and talk about the pictures. Your baby will enjoy nursery rhymes, waiata, hand games, etc. Let them hear your own favourite stories, music and rhymes.

For more ideas, ask at your local library, preschool, kindergarten and kōhanga reo.

Being active and moving also help babies and children to learn and their bodies to develop. Sport New Zealand has a set of video clips on their YouTube channel showing activities for children from birth to 5 years of age.

Learning to talk

Talking to your baby is the best way to help them learn to talk. Talk to your baby while you are dressing, bathing and feeding them, and look at your baby while you talk. When your baby makes sounds, repeat the sounds back and leave time for them to make a sound so that they learn to talk with you and take turns in conversations. They learn by hearing you – your baby will understand what you say before they start to talk. If you speak te reo Māori or another language that is not English, your baby will easily pick up both languages.

Your baby will start to make sounds for things they recognise; they will know what they mean and you will soon learn too, even if their words aren’t clear.

If you are worried

Children grow and learn at different rates and there is a wide range of what is ‘normal’ for a child’s development. Talk to your nurse or doctor if you are worried about your child.

Keeping your baby safe while they learn

Your baby may start to move around after 6 months of age so they will need to have safe places to play and learn. See also the Safety page on the Plunket website to find out how you can make your home safe.

Related websites

Whakatipu – SKIP
Whakatipu is a kaupapa that encourages strong whānau connections that nurture and develop tamariki. Tikanga and pakiwaitara are interwoven with child development information, ideas and activities for whānau.

Play and learning (6 months to 1 year) – Plunket
Fun things to do with your baby.

Learning to talk – Kidshealth
The Kidshealth website has more information about how children learn to talk and what you can do to help.

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