How Can I Play With My Baby If They Aren’t Into Toys? | Speech Education Part 4
Hi guys, and welcome back. And if this is your first time, welcome, welcome. My name is Kelli Floyd, and
I am a speech language pathologist with Bright Start. And we are so glad that you are here. Like always,
I’m going to remind you to like and subscribe to our YouTube channel, or whichever social media
platform you enjoy utilizing the most. And I am so excited to have you back. Maybe you’ve been
following along for a little while. If you haven’t, please go back and catch some of our videos. We like to
share lots of tips. We’ve shared lots of things that have explained our therapy services. We’ve talked a
lot about burning questions that we have, and we are sharing another tip today to help move your child
forward in their speech and language development. Hopefully you’ve caught my video about observing
your child and figuring out what’s important to them and what lights them up.
One of the things that we find often is that toys are not the thing that light our children up. So many
parents say, “You know what? They really don’t like toys. They don’t play with their toys. They don’t pay
attention to their toys and they don’t engage with their toys.” And I’m here to tell you that is not a bad
thing. That just means they’re not quite to the developmental level where toys are important to them.
And that’s okay. We’ll probably get there, but just because they aren’t interested in toys doesn’t mean
that there isn’t something that they aren’t interested in. And usually with kids like this, what we’re going
to begin with are social games. And that just means we’re going to engage your child with us, we’re
going to engage your child with you, and we’re going to play games with them that they find fun. We
often do silly songs, peek-a-boo, hide and seek, but we’re going to do things that have to do with your
child paying attention to you, or if I’m your therapist, to me.
One of my favorite social games is the where-oh-where game. And you can play this a variety of
different ways, and then you can take it and run with it and generalize it into lots of different areas. But
I’m going to start out with just the simple way. You can do this with an itty bitty bitty baby. You can do
this with an older baby. You can do this even with young toddlers. And most of the time, they find it very
engaging. It’s very similar to a peek-a-boo game, but we put a song to it. And you can use props with
this. So you can just use yourself, in your hands, and you can do it like this. You can hide behind a piece
of furniture or something that’s nearby and do this game. Or one of my favorite ways to do this is
utilizing a burp cloth or a smaller blanket, to put on my head first, and then if the child is open to it and
it’s not something that scares them and they’re adverse to, even on the child’s head.
And so what happens is, is we either hide behind something, behind our hands, and we sing a song and
we say, “Where, oh where, oh where is Kelly? Where can Kelly be?” And then we pause, and then we
remove whatever is hiding our face and we say, “Here I am. Boo.” And then the child usually giggles and
laughs. And if they’re interested in that, then we engage with them with that. Now, there are lots of
things that I’m looking for whenever we do this. The first thing I’m looking for is does the child even
know I’m there? Does the child know mom or dad or whatever caregiver is with us is there? Are they
aware of us in their environment? So I’m looking for awareness first. Then, if they are aware, I’m looking
for engagement. And that just might mean a smile, an eye gaze, they’re looking in our direction. They
realize that we’re doing something over there and they want to engage with us.
Oftentimes the next thing that they do from engagement, and an engagement even might look like
they’re the ones who pulled the thing off of my head or off of their own head. They’re engaging in that.
The next thing that we’re looking for is for them to initiate that game again and want to play that game
again. And so that might mean that they bring the blanket to you. Occasionally they’ll start swaying and
start doing the tune of the song. Another thing that they might do is they might put something on their
own head because they want you to do that. Or they might come and cover your eyes or cover their
own eyes. Those are always that they are initiating that game again. And then we’re looking for
participation, and sometimes initiation and participation go hand in hand. So they might initiate it by
putting their hands over their eyes, and then they continue to engage and participate in that play. Those
are all the things that we’re looking for with social games. Now this particular social game happens to be one of my favorites, but it’s not the only one.
There are lots of different ones that we can do. We can use a song. One of my favorites is the Row Row
Your Boat song. And I like to use the version where at the end you say, “If you see an alligator, don’t
forget to scream, ah.” Again, this is something that kids often can and will imitate and do. And again,
we’re just looking for that awareness first. Do they even know that we’re doing this? Are they interested
in this thing that we’re doing? If they’re not interested in it, we can try to get their interest, but if they’re
not interested in it, that’s okay. Are they wanting to engage and initiate and participate in this task?
Oftentimes we use lots of body movement with, for instance, the Row Row Your Boat. So we might be
moving their bodies and our bodies back and forth together. And then at the end, I either put my hands
on my face or I put my hands on their face, or sometimes I help them put their hands on their face.
Another really fun would be your songs that have hand motions to them. So a fun social game might be
Wheels on the Bus or the Itsy Bitsy Spider, if those are things that your child enjoys. Sometimes it’s none
of that, they’re not interested in any of that. But maybe they’re just a itty bitty little baby and they’re
sitting in a bouncy seat and you’re just looking to see, are they aware of us? Are they engaged? Are they
following me with their eye gaze? Does their facial expression change when I engage with them? And so
that could be as simple as going, “Ah, boo,” and just touching them. That is a social game. So sometimes
kiddos aren’t interested in toys. That’s okay. They’re not ready for that yet. They will be, we will get to
play. Believe me, there will be favorite things that they enjoy. Maybe not the way you think they will.
They might start exploring toys in ways that are not the ways that you expect them to. And that’s okay
too. We’ll get to that another day.
But if they aren’t ready for toys and that’s not where they are in their development, then we’re going to
back up and we’re going to start with social games and fun songs and play in that way. This might also
look like diaper changes. I don’t know if you guys talk to your babies when you do diaper changes, or if
it’s just a down and dirty one. But if you do, or maybe when you’re getting them dressed or undressed
for a bath time, taking their little feet and covering your eyes and saying, “Boo,” whenever you do that is
a really fun way, or moving their legs back and forth like windshield wipers and singing, “The wipers on
the bus, go swish, swish, swish,” or even taking something and putting it on their head and then letting
them pull it off or you helping them pull it off. And then you just start giving that eye contact and those
giggles and those laughs, those are connections that all happen before language starts.
And those are social games and they’re really fun. And they’re a great way to connect with your child,
build some rapport and some relationship. And they’re a great foundation for language.
I hope this has been helpful, and I hope that you join us again next time. Don’t forget to like, follow,
subscribe so that you get notifications whenever we put these tips out. Have a great day.