For a long time while they are growing, babies don’t give us much back. They can’t actually say ‘thanks’ or ‘good for you’. It takes a couple of months before they even smile. Babies can’t give us a present or bring us a cup of tea. The best way to get reward from our babies is to have fun with them. They will be responsive and show enjoyment as soon as we put in some energy to smile and talk and touch them.

Sharon, 36 ‘I was one of the first mothers in our town to ever use a baby sling. I walked all over the shopping centre and to parks and cafes, as I hated being home indoors. As I walked, I would talk to the baby and point things out to her. People probably thought I was strange, but I didn’t mind, because we had a good time. My daughter Sky is 14 now and has always been bright, inquisitive and sociable. I know this is because I taught her to be this way.’

There are two secrets of play with babies:

– keep it simple and gentle, and

– use lots of repetition.

Games start with very simple things done over and over. If the baby sneezes, you exclaim with a smile: ‘You sneezed!’ Your child, unsure how to feel, decides this is a happy thing and smiles back. Soon she will look to your face expectantly after every sneeze and smile in anticipation.