Play is an essential part of a child's physical, intellectual, emotional, social and communication development. It's how they learn about their world and themselves.
Play covers everything from gardening to making a model house out of cereal packets.
* Play with them from birth onwards. your baby responds to you on a very instinctive level. Try peekaboo games, making faces, talking and tickling.
* You don't need loads of special toys. Children will play for hours with a cardboard box - it gives their imagination the chance to run riot. Old clothes make fabulous dressing-up outfits, too.
* Make sure they get to play outside. Children need to jump, run and skip.
* Don't over-protect your child. While it's important for children to play in a safe area, they do need to be challenged and take risks to develop.
* Toddlers love playing with their parents and carers, but playing with friends is important too and will help them learn social skills.
* Make everyday activities into a game. Play hiding and chasing around the house. Turn chores into games and make responsibilities fun.