0-12m Play and Interaction

What is it?

Play is your child’s way of experimenting and learning about the world. This includes their learning of new words. Play and interaction are important skills for your child to develop to enhance their learning.

What to expect?

By 12 months children will usually:

  • Gaze at faces and copies facial movements such as sticking out tongue
  • Sense emotion in parents voices and respond  e.g. smile, laugh, quieten
  • Cry in different ways to express needs. For example one cry for hunger, another when they are tired
  • Smile and laugh  when other people smile and laugh
  • Explore their environment
  • Look at you when you speak

Information & advice

You can help by:

  • Being face to face – getting down to child’s level, e.g. on floor, on lap, crouch down, lying down. It makes it easier to see messages we are giving each other if we are face to face. It engages your child, shows your child you are interested and helps them to listen to you.
  • Join in your child’s play – follow their lead; play with what your child is interested in, it is best to follow your child’s play ideas.
  • When playing alongside your child, look at what your child is doing, and respond by copying their action and acknowledge what they say.
  • It is important to talk about what your child is doing while playing, so that they learn what to say by hearing you e.g. ‘it a big cup’.
  • Stop, look and listen – Don’t rush in, give your child a chance to communicate first. Observe and watch your child, looking for the little cues your child gives you however big or small before talking or acting. If you find this a struggle, count to ten. Even if you know what your child wants to say, don’t rush in,  wait and listen to them.


  • Look in mirrors together, make silly faces.
  • Create treasure basket with different sensory objects  including mirrors, textured materials, wooden objects, metal objects
  • Sorting and stacking with nesting bowls, stacking cups
  • Posting activities – putting objects in and out of boxes- where has it gone?
  • Read simple lift the flap, touch and feel or board books
  • Rhymes – sing songs real or made up that rhyme, sing action songs and play games like peek-a-boo
  • Have some special time with your child each day to play with toys and picture books