Development Through Play - Infants through the Age of 5

"Play is the work of the child"

- Maria Montessori

From the time they are born babies experience and participate in many different kinds of play. These engagements have a substantial effect on your child's growth and development. Children naturally play is often self-directed and done at the child's intrinsic motivation, play can still be relegated to the backseat and take less priority.

Development through Play is essential for optimal development

Play gives joy and abundant learning to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. The significant amount of education and acquisition of skills through it paves the way for your child's cognitive and physical well-being. When children play - like when they use toys such as the Monty Organic Cotton Play Tunnel - they solve problems, expose themselves to cause and effect, and exercise their creative thinking skills and communication while improving and strengthening their core physical functions. 

Parents need to give their children room to develop through play

Parents need to create an environment that encourages their child's development through play. A basic checklist includes:

  • Simplified play area
  • No overcluttering
  • Child sized furniture
  • Simple toys that encourage exploration
  • Room to make mistakes!

An simple play environment will encourage your child to explore their surroundings. This environment includes the toys that you make available.

One our favorite toys that enourage development through play is the Monty Organic Cotton Play Tunnel

An organic cotton play tunnel will encourage toddlers to explore their surroundings while by encouraging development through play.

The Monty Organic Cotton Play Tunnel provides an array of developmental benefits for your toddler, all the while being gentle on your child's skin. Here's how this simple yet effective Montessori-inspired toy can contribute to your toddler's growth:

  1. Gross Motor Skills: The act of crawling in and out of the organic cotton play tunnel helps your child build strength, coordination, and balance. These are key gross motor skills that will help in other aspects of their life, such as walking, running, and jumping.
  2. Spatial Awareness: As your toddler moves through the organic cotton play tunnel, they learn to navigate their body in a restricted space. This helps develop spatial awareness - understanding how their body moves and fits within the space around them.
  3. Sensory Development: The feel of the organic cotton against your child's skin provides sensory stimulation. This not only enhances their tactile experience but also can make the play tunnel a comforting space.
  4. Cognitive Development: A play tunnel can be a wonderful tool for imaginative play. It could be a cave, a secret passageway, or a hiding spot – the possibilities are endless. This stimulates creativity and cognitive development.
  5. Social Skills: Our organic cotton play tunnel promotes cooperative play. Taking turns to crawl through the tunnel or playing games around it improves social interaction and communication skills.
  6. Emotional Development: Our organic cotton play tunnel provides a sense of adventure and can also offer a sense of security, being in a 'den' where your toddler can feel safe. This can help your toddler learn to manage their feelings of fear and excitement, thus supporting their emotional development.

In the Montessori approach, we advocate for toys and play items that nurture a child's innate curiosity and independence. The Monty Organic Cotton Play Tunnel does exactly that, allowing children to explore, imagine, and create their own adventures.

Play with no specific purpose

Babies and infants operate mainly based on their instincts. They have a strong instrict to feed their innate inquisitiveness around them as they immerse themselves in their new world and process their surroundings. It may not look like they're doing much with intentions, but these seemingly purposeless, unintentional actions are called unoccupied play. If you pay attention you'll notice unoccupied play continuously in the first three months of age. 

Give your baby space to encourage development through play 

Physical interactions between parents and babies lend themselves to a baby's development and attachment between parent and baby. As infants observe, familiarize, and adapt to different stimuli, their senses will be highly sensitive and active. 

However, parents also need to know when to give their baby space to allow them to develop through play.

Let the babies freely explore and observe when they seem content. 

There is a fine line to walk here. Parents should be attentive to their baby and adjust how much space the baby as given based off parental insticts.

What can parents do?

Ensure the safety of their babies. Provide suitable materials such as soft books with patterns of highly contrasting colors. Stimulate their awareness with toys or nursery essentials that have bright, bold colors and different textures and may produce varied sounds that can quickly get their attention. 

Provide objects that help stimulate senses.

Babies will have a penchant for touch, so it can be a great idea to give babies objects that may allow them to develop their sense of touch, such as stuffed toys with vibrant colors and rattles. When babies feel different things, they can learn more about the world. 

Such play objects will be beneficial for setting up the appropriate exposure and prepare them for better advancing with their progress. Provide them with highly intuitive toys that optimally support the child's development. 

Space for a child to develop through play

While it's great to try many different activities with the baby, one of the ideal play types to encourage at birth until the child reaches two years is allowing the him to play alone.

Development through play incites independence

Such type incites independence, hence the name independent or Solitary Play, say, when they babies are placed in a baby jumper like The Rue, Monty Toy Store's signature 100% organically made wooden baby jumper. 

This type happens when the child alone is playing with the objects available and using their acquired motor skills. It's when adults would see a child busying themselves without someone else's involvement. This child's behavior is evident to toddlers until their second year, although it can already be observed at three months. 

Helping children understand what they like and don't

Not only does it cultivate independence, but it also shapes a child's preferences, making way for the realization of the things they like and dislike, which leads to a better sense of self and formation of self-identity. It also helps instill into children the concept of self-regulation by teaching them to make decisions on what toy to play with and how long they want. 

Cognitively, it helps develop imagination, creativity, and problem-solving skills. 

What can parents do?

Parents may consider buying and providing rattles, puzzles with a few pieces, books with soft edges, and nesting and stacking toys to support infants and toddlers better in this type of play. 

Help them have their own space

In addition to toys, make their environment conducive for play by providing them with child play essentials such as mats and building them with their own space. 

Parents shouldn't step in because this play is about independence unless necessary. 

When a toddler becomes a spectator 

Children demonstrate strong interest in not being part of the action in the latter part of toddlerhood. 

Surprisingly, they will be grounded on observing others behave, where they learn words, make meaning with actions, and learn rules. They may be isolating themselves and are testing the waters. This type of play is called Onlooker Play

As they watch, it's common to see them imitate and assimilate the actions of adults and other children around them. 

Baby Jumper Development

At around 5 months of age you may want to look into a baby jumper. Baby jumpers are a great tool to keep your baby entertained, happy, and physcially moving when you need a free set of hands.

There is no hard rule about the age your baby is ready for a baby jumper. The US Consumer Protection Safety Commission states that babies can safely use jumpers when one of the following happens:

  • Your baby reaches 5 months of age
  • Your baby rolls over
  • Your baby attempts to pull themselves up on furntiture of a pull up bar

Baby jumpers are not created equal

Although baby jumpers are not part of the traditional montessori method I feel that they can fit into a modern montessori approach. I always suggest a baby jumper that is made of natural materials, such as wood, and has toys that encourage cognitive development by allowing your baby to explore their surroundings.

The Rue wooden baby jumper was designed with these principles in mind. It is made of wood and utilizes high quality play toys. The Rue is an exquisitely crafted, safely engineered wooden baby jumper. It is the only available baby jumper that is eco-friendly, non-toxic, and stylish wooden baby jumper.  

What can parents do? 

Parents shouldn't feel there's anything different with their toddler. They must foster an environment that supports such behavior. Refrain from distracting them, let them pay attention, and keep their eyes on what they are watching. 


Get the child to go outside.

Take the children a walk to the park where they can watch other children. Expose them to nature and different movements. 


Children copy and play

Different types of play are correlated with the stage of a child's development. As they progress towards the next step, a toddler's interest will change and equally advance. 

A child is an observer

Following the onlooker play, where a child becomes an observer, giving heed to others' actions is when a child mimics other children's actions and plays with the same toy. This type of play is called the Parallel Play

They no longer only observe but also do the action, although they don't have a concept of sharing and playing with others yet. Toddlers play by themselves.

Since the movements are similar to those of other children nearby, usually side-by-side, without directly interacting with each other, this type of play has gained its name "parallel play." 

Parallel play has noticeable physical benefits. 

Parallel play is typical for children who still need to develop their social interaction skills fully. It happens when a kid mimics somebody else with some toys that they have, such as when a child starts playing the same thing someone else is playing. The toys need not be the same. 

During parallel play, children begin to facilitate their muscles as they mimic and move their bodies and extremities, leading to favorable development of gross and fine motor skills. They may walk, lift, jump, or cry depending on their copying actions. They may even start dabbling in musical instruments. 

Parallel play lays the groundwork for social development.

Through this type of play, children start to figure out their desires and what doesn't interest them. They begin to learn feelings and express their emotions, which are both integral in raising a child with good self-esteem. 

What can parents do? 

Parents' primary role in children's development is to become their primary provider, from their basic needs to the best things that will help with their development. 

Set playdates for toddlers

To better aid a toddler through parallel play, parents may consider setting playdates by providing toys, such as clays, building blocks, and more sensory playthings that are safe and ideal for ages 2-3. 

When play becomes children's avenue for social interaction

Voila! Between ages 3 and 5, play becomes a social interaction for children as they do not just play alone.

Longer attention span and basic language. No rules for development through play.

Children start playing with each other at this point as they have already gained a longer attention span and acquired basic language skills. Hence, this type of play is called Associative Play. Children don't yet understand the concept of rules and goals at this stage, and organization may not be observed. While they interact with others, they will gravitate towards their own thing. 

What can parents do?

It remains ideal to have parents supply their children with toys, such as construction toys. Providing them with toddler or preschool materials, such as study desks and art supplies, will be beneficial. It's important to supply them with toys that spark their interests.

Encourage social interaction

Children should be encouraged to interact socially, and parents can foster that by regularly taking their kids to playgroups and playdates. Parents can also bring their children to daycare centers.  

A common goal - development through play

Associative play would advance to a play where children share and understand a common goal, leading them to collaborate with their playmates. Collaborative Play is commonly observed in preschoolers ages 4 to 5. 

Advancement of social and emotional development through play

The skills in language and understanding of themselves would allow them to learn new skills such as empathy, agreement, and even making concessions. Children begin to grasp the concept of teamwork. 

What can parents do?

Promote teamwork at home through different activities so children can better understand its value. These activities would include building a fort, team sports, solving a puzzle together, or creating a garden. 

Monty Toys - A Revolution in Child's Play

As parents, we naturally seek the best for our little ones. We understand, consciously or intuitively, that the first 5 years of our child's life will shape the structure of their brain for the rest of their life.

Monty Toys isn't just another toy store.

Our toys are a testament to the importance of our children's early years.

Monty Toys are designed and curated by our child developmental experts to nurture your child's innate curiosity, fostering independence, critical thinking, and respect for oneself, others, and their surroundings.

By providing strategic toys and materials tailored to your child's developmental stage, we allow children and parents to become active agents in their own education and development.

Every product from Monty Toys comes with a tailored 1-page informational document, ensuring parents grasp the educational essence and purpose of each toy. This guide illuminates the science behind the toy's design and offers insights into enhancing a child's learning experience.

It's not just about play; it's about informed, developmental engagement for both child and parent.

Join us in Learning through Play!

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