According to the groundbreaking book “Einstein Never Used Flash Cards,” “play is to early childhood what gas is to a car,” as it’s “the very fuel of every intellectual activity that our children engage in.”

10 reasons play makes babies smarter , is an article produced by CNN Health.  Here are the highlights that I loved:

  1. Play helps acquire basic skills:  Interacting with a toy is teaching your baby the basics, like gravity, or how wheels moves.
  2. Play helps social development: Taking turns, collaboration, following rules, empathy and self-regulation — these are just some of the social skills play underscores.  Provide opportunities for your tot to interact with children his age. These moments build the foundation for future social relationships and exert external pressure for them to act in socially desirable ways.
  3. Play helps develop impulse control: Free play is all about self-control and following social rules.  Don’t be quick to create a play agenda when hanging out with your child or hosting a play date with others. Give children the room and the materials (such as balls, boxes and shape sorters) to create “free” play on their own terms.
  4. Play reduces stress: If you’re facing what is likely to be an anxiety-provoking situation for your baby (a doctor’s appointment, a holiday dinner with lots of unfamiliar faces, etc.), try to arrive early with toys and enjoy play time with your child beforehand.
  5. Play improves concentration, attention span and memory: We have all seen a toddler so lost in play that she doesn’t even hear when you call her name.  Be patient with this, they are learning.
  6. Play aids in physical development: Sensorimotor play, which uses both senses and muscles, allows an infant or toddler to discover his own body and its abilities.  Mastery of the physical body promotes self-esteem and provides a feeling of accomplishment.
  7. Play helps children understand the way things work: Whether it’s climbing the baby slide and sliding down over and over or kicking a ball repeatedly, these activities result in the same thing: mastery.  Children master new skills through repetitive play; conquering that skill means moving to the next level.  Don’t rush them to the next activity.
  8. Play helps develop mathematical thinking:  Pull out the Legos. Toddlers know that if they put one Lego on top of another they will have two. They know if they have two Legos and you have five, you have more.  Even though they do not know the words, they are learning about addition and subtraction.
  9. Play promotes language and literacy: Little ones who frequently engage in play, show an increase in the total number of words used, the length of their sentences and the complexity of their speech.  Give him blocks. Yes, blocks. In 2007, Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Institute and the University of Washington conducted a study of 175 toddlers, half of whom were given two sets of building blocks. Those who played with blocks scored 15 percent higher on their language assessment than those who didn’t.
  10. Play allows children to voice difficult feelings:  Powerful feelings — especially negative ones like anger, jealousy, anxiety and fear — can be overwhelming for children. Play provides a voice and a healthy outlet for the expression of those negative and overwhelming emotions, and it’s important for parents to give children space to explore them. *might I add that playing with your child encourages them to trust you and express these feelings to you when they are older.
This article highly stresses giving your children simple toys that require them to do the work and not using baby DVD’s.  I totally agree.
Some active toys — the ones with the bells and whistles — prompt kids to sit back and be entertained by pushing buttons. But passive toys make for active kids. When the toy is simple, a child is forced to be creative, dynamic and engaged on an entirely different level, which enables and promotes development.