What You’ll Need:
-Real or pretend spoon, bowl, saucepan, bottle, napkin, and any other items you might use to prepare a meal
-Pretend food or real, empty containers (baby food, cereal box, etc)
While sitting on the floor with your child, you might pretend to make the baby cry. You can say, “Wahh, wahh. The baby is crying. I think she is hungry.” For a two or three year old you might ask “What can we do?” For a younger child, model what to do. “Let’s make the baby some breakfast.” Ask your child to pour or place something in the bowl or saucepan and “stir it up!” If you have a pretend stove, you can encourage your child to heat up the food on the stove. Add other ingredients and stir it up again. You can ask “what are you making?” Encourage your child to give it a taste. Is it hot? She can blow on it! Is it ready? Pour some in to the bowl for the baby. Ask your child, “Can the baby feed herself or does she need your help?” Encourage your child to feed the baby doll with the spoon. Ask, “Does the baby like the food you made for her?” Uh oh, the baby is getting dirty, maybe your child needs to wipe her face with the napkin. Is she thirsty? Perhaps she wants a drink from her bottle. What’s in the bottle? Juice? Milk? You can ask older children what you should do.
For younger children, when you first start this “plan to play,” you might need to model how to feed the baby. But be sure you also give your child room to lead the play. Even children as young as 18 months (some even younger) can have their own plan for feeding or caring for the baby doll. You can prompt children to take the lead by saying “now what?” Have fun with it! The more you “pretend,” the more your child will. Watch and listen to your child. Notice which parts of the play seem to get them excited and talking. Use those parts to expand the play. Remember that some young children, and those who have not engaged in this type of play before, will start slowly. Playing for just a few minutes is a great start. Over time the play will expand and you’ll have engaged in a quality experience that is both fun and supports your child’s development.
empowered parents, happy families.