How babies learn through play

Discover why play is so important for babies' development

In the first 1,000 days, babies’ brains form new connections at an astounding rate: up to 1,000 every single second – a pace never repeated again. Discover why play is so important.

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Transcript of 'How babies learn through play' video

Adriana Friedman: Babies play from the moment they're born. And their first toy is their own bodies. In the beginning, babies explore life through their senses. So the game is to discover oneself and to discover the others. Later on, babies discover the objects that are made available for them.

Renata Meirelles: Children live through play. All other relationships help mold them, but playing is the essence of it. Of course that, if not properly fed and unhealthy, a child won't even be able to play. But playing is their fire, their means.

Lino de Macedo: In the first two years of life, the child has basically two ways to play, and both ways are different and very important. The first one is to play with adults. They need the adult's action. I mean the adult who talks, sings, laughs and tells stories.

Dad: Step on my foot.

Child: On your foot?

Dad: Yep.

Lino de Macedo: The second way is also very important, which is when the child plays with objects.The child and the objects, maybe with other children as well.

Older child to young child: You want more?

Lino de Macedo: And these two ways of playing prepare children for the play after two years old, which is the symbolic play.

Alison Gopnik, Ph.D.: Anytime you walk into a room full of two and 3-year-olds, you'll see they're off in this world of Ninja Turtles and tea parties, and strange ponies in this strange pretend world. It's a bit of a puzzle about why it is that children who need to learn so much about the real world spend so much of their time off in this crazy and imaginary worlds.

Alison Gopnik, Ph.D.: The answer seems to be that imagining alternative worlds and being able to think about the world differently than it actually is one of the most powerful capacities human beings have as adults.

Renata Meirelles: Nowadays we see many kids who have received from the outside in what they need to do, at what time they have to do it and how they have to do it. So they didn't experience from the inside out their own desires, they never heard their own voices. So we see these kids who are not acting according to their intuition and desires. And that's what we really need to pay attention to.

Renata Meirelles: We only achieve that when we provide our kids with free time to play. It's as simple as that. We must allow the kids to take their time to be themselves. Playing is being yourself, that's it.