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Early childhood development spans the ages.


Have you ever sat and watched as an elderly woman bounces a bright eye baby on her knee? Have you observed how she wraps her aged hands around the soft newness of the young hands and brings them together in a game of Pat-a-Cake? This timeless game of baby bonding has spanned generations and brought laughter to young and old.

The earliest mention was found in Thomas D’ Urfey’s play The Campaigners from 1698. In 1765 it was written in the following format for the  Nursery book Mother Goose Melody.

Patty Cake, Patty Cake,
Baker’s Man;
That I will Master,
As fast as I can;
Prick it and prick it,
And mark it with a T,
And there will be enough for Jacky and me.

Of course, each generation and each culture had its own version of this little rhyme making it their own. What your Grandmother may not have known was that she was teaching her infant important fine motor skills. When you take your baby’s hands and bring them together where they touch you are not only working the developing muscles in their arms but you are nurturing hand-eye coordination.

It becomes less of a game and more of a brain builder as the baby learns that two opposite things coming together and touching causes a reaction, clapping. A baby can learn to clap between 7-9mths of age (

Another early game that you can play with your baby is the game of peek-a-boo. At 6mths of age  you will begin to see that when you leave the room, baby will cry or fuss for you until you return. The game of peek-a-boo teaches object permanence. By covering up your face only to move your hands to reveal your face you teach your child that Mommy, or Daddy come back.

In 2001 a study was published by the American Psychological Association that found that babies as young as 4mths old responded to a game of peek-a-boo.  The  facilitator would cover her face while facing the baby. The facilitator would change her expression with each reveal, first happy, sad, anger, and no expression. It was found that babies typically respond higher to a happy expression and would turn away or become anxious when looking at a sad or angry face.

By simply playing lap games with your child you are not only bonding and having fun you are allowing them to learn and make important mental connections that will use through out the rest of their life.

So go on, be silly, and have fun, you are you’re baby’s favorite toy!

About Beth Britton




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