In the early years of life it may seem hard to bond or play with your baby. They are so little and fragile. While children in their first year, especially those first three months, are focused primarily on eating and growing, there is a lot of developing going on during this time. Babies are learning about their world and discovering new things all the time. From physical development—learning to use their arms and feet—to brain development—beginning to see and feel new things—to social development—who is my family? Who can I trust?—learning and growing are all around.
In a world where the house still has to be cleaned and food still has to be prepared, it can be tempting to set the baby down in a bouncy chair or swing and let them “entertain themselves”. While this is ok occasionally, it is important for parents to spend time with their babies helping them along in their development.
So what are some things parents can do with Baby? Here are a few simple exercises for different stages of life.
0-3 months: DANCE WITH BABY.
Moving and swaying while singing or listening to music with baby can help soothe him. For months he was rocked around in your womb constantly. Being held closely to your chest is comforting to him, and listening to music helps his sense of hearing develop.
As baby is developing his large muscles and learning to keep his head up, it is important to help him strengthen these muscles. The time baby spends on his tummy is helping do just this. Some babies may not enjoy being on their tummies, but often if a parent gets on the floor and talks with them at their level, they may be more comfortable. Baby my begin to push himself up, or may just start “swimming”. Laugh with him and encourage him as he moves around.
6 months: MAGIC SCARVES.
Scarves can be a great toy to use to play with baby. One activity is to thread a scarf or piece of fabric through a cardboard tube (such as an empty paper towel tube). Let it barely poke out and have baby pull it through the tube. You can add encouragement in this game such as “Where is the scarf?” and as he pulls, “Oh, there it is!” This is teaching baby hand-eye coordination and object permanence (understanding that objects can still exist even when they cannot be seen, felt or heard)
9 months: EXPLORE!
Your baby is constantly learning about the world- what it sounds like, looks like, feels like and tastes like. You can help your baby explore by talking to them about the things that they see inside and outside the house and describing it to them. Let them feel leaves on plants or the grass and explain each thing as you show it to them.
TALK TALK TALK TALK!
Talking is the most important thing a parent can do with their child. Constantly describing what you are doing, what you see, what you feel around you, help give your baby words to understand and describe his own world. Studies have shown that parents who talk and read to children are more likely to have a higher vocabulary by the time they enter Kindergarten.
Take part in your child’s development and watch them grow every day!
For more information on development and activities you can do with your baby and toddlers, you can visit the OSU Family Life website: www.families.osu.edu and under “stages of life” choose “infants and young children” (or click here). You can also check out some of the Gymboree books such as Baby Play or Play and Learn to find more activities to do with baby.