Although we often promote reading as a way for dads to bond with their babies, there is another low-cost and fun activity dads can do with their little ones: building blocks! Building blocks are both fun for the kids and a great stress reliever for adults. Furthermore, building blocks present a variety of learning opportunities, even at the youngest age.
We recommend that you introduce building blocks once your baby is able to sit up on his or her own, usually anywhere between 6-9 months. We recommend starting with simple plain wooden blocks. While a baby may be unable to stack blocks on their own, they will love watching dad build, studying his every move. While dad builds his tall tower, the baby can work on their visual perception and hand-eye coordination skills by picking up blocks and banging them together to make new and interesting noises. This also adds an auditory component to the activity that helps develop baby’s brain! Last of all, once (or before!) the tall tower is completed, babies can delight in knocking it down (and learn about cause and effect)!
As your baby grows into a toddler, they will be able help dad stack blocks, and even create their very own tall towers. They will enjoy knocking them down and then rebuilding them. This is the perfect age to sneak in those learning opportunities. If you have colorful blocks, work on learning the different colors by sorting each color into their own pile. You can sort by shape and size as well, which is a great way to teach organizational skills. Introduce counting simply by building a tower. Be sure to have the toddler help with the clean-up.
As your child grows, you can transition into the smaller blocks giving them more options for sorting shapes, sizes, and colors. Let them be creative with their building. While building, let them create a story to go along with what is being built. It is also a great chance for Dad to be creative and tell stories too!
Older children may be ready for interlocking block sets, such as those from Lego. These sets teach children the importance of following directions and asking for help. By being there and working alongside them, you will be able to help them with whatever they may need. They might need your help finding the correct piece. Maybe they put the wrong piece on and need their big strong dad to pull the piece off. Doing a set with specific instructions takes a lot of patience, especially for a young child, but we can’t think of a more fun way to learn patience than building with blocks.
Recommended blocks for babies:
Simple, plain wooden blocks (Etsy)
Recommended blocks for toddlers:
Habatown Blocks (by Haba, sold on The Rad Dad Box)