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The early days of babyhood is a good time to engage your baby in activities that are interesting, educational, and provide a bonding experience. These seemingly silly things that you do can lay the foundation for his overall development that will transform him into a brilliant individual in the future.
Things to Do with Babies from 0-6 Months
The activities that your baby engages in during this time of his life can help in his early development. It also helps you to build a stronger bond with him. His senses develop, he will gain some control over his body, and start responding to you by cooing, gurgling and laughing, and melt your heart in the process. Stimulating his brain during this period by providing him situations to explore can assist in his learning process and make him a good observer.
1. Have Some Face Time
This one is pretty simple; gaze into your baby’s eyes while feeding. You can also caress his cheeks and back while doing this. This is a highly pleasurable activity for him and will strengthen the bond between the both of you.
2. Tummy Time
Make sure your baby gets some tummy time in his early days. Lying on his tummy makes him look up to see the things around, this helps in strengthening his neck muscles. Let him have tummy time on a firm surface; this will also help him accomplish other milestones such as crawling, sitting and walking. Sometimes he might not be interested in tummy time due to the effort involved; do it for a few minutes initially, and slowly increase the duration.
3. Stimulate Their Senses
Always allow newborns to engage their senses as much as possible. It is important for them to feel things around, such as their skin, water from their bath, their stuffy toys and such. Even cuddling with you can help them develop their sense of touch. Babies start hearing sounds while still in the womb, so talking, singing and reading to your little bundle of joy helps them to build a personality and encourages language development and promotes bonding.
4. Get Kicking
Once your baby reaches 3 months, hang up colourful toys above his play mat. This will encourage him to kick up his legs, bring his hands together and also tuck his chin in. The chin tuck requires neck strength and flexibility and helps him in turning over. Other 3 months baby activities include playing with rattles, seeing his reflection in a mirror and introduction to different sounds.
Well, this is a real game changer. Once your baby understands the concept of this simple activity, you will find yourself hiding behind anything and everything, shouting peek-a-boo, just to see him giggle in response. A newborn initially has blurry vision and can only see 8 to 12 inches away. By 4 months your baby will be able to see further and track moving objects. Therefore, this is an ideal activity, that helps to develop fine motor skills, object permanence and hand-eye coordination.
6. Fly High
Lay your baby on his back and place your hands around his midsection. Now gently lift him up, mocking a take-off and add some sound effects for extra fun. This activity will increase his body awareness and gives him a different perspective to view the surroundings.
Things to Do with Babies from 6 to 12 Months
Your baby might have started crawling and will soon be taking his first steps. It is an exciting time for you as well since he will start to babble incoherent words (including the much-awaited mama or dada) and become responsive to his environment. It is an ideal time to engage him in infant activities that will assist his development. Your presence, love and involvement are all important for an ideal growing environment.
1. Baby Sit Up
If your baby is around 6 months old and has developed good head control, try making him sit up. Lay your baby on his back, put your hands under his arms and guide them to a sitting position. Muscles strengthen due to multiple uses and he will gain strength and balance. Some other fun 6-month-old baby activities are, bouncing him on your lap while singing a silly song; stacking up things and then, of course, letting him knock them down; and getting them to say ‘mama’ (duh).
2. Throw Time
Your baby may enjoy throwing stuff around, either his playthings or his food (that’s really not fun); ever wondered why? A part of the reason he does this is because he begins to understand that his actions make things happen and he is just studying the reactions! So, a good 7-month-old baby activity would be allowing him to throw stuff. Make a hole in the lid of a container and help him push small toys through it. Open the lid and dump out the toys. This simple activity will engage him for a long time. This improves his understanding of cause and effect and his object manipulation skills.
3. Make Some Noise
As the baby grows, he will learn to make different sounds by banging or rattling things. Let the budding sound engineer develop; allow him to play with different utensils and surfaces and let him experience the different sounds made. You can also fill a bottle with some beads or uncooked grains and let him play with it. These are good sensory activities for your baby, that teach him auditory discrimination, fine motor skills, cause and effect. You can also try rhyming words and repeat them to the baby.
4. Talk Time
Once your baby reaches 9 months of age, engage him in language development activities for infants. These are simple activities that most parents tend to do naturally, once they see their baby growing up. Encourage him to talk even if it makes no sense, point out colourful objects and name them, teach him different parts of his body. Even describing your actions can help in his language development. It is important to patiently engage in conversations with your baby since that encourages him to express himself.
5. Play with Puzzles
Try to engage your baby in simple wooden puzzles once he reaches 12 months, and make sure that the pieces are big enough for him to hold. This develops fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills and spatial awareness. Teach him how to do it and cheer him on when he does it right. Some other baby brain development activities are pointing out objects to your baby and naming them, playing a simple game of catch with scarves or towels. Playing catch will improve his hand-eye coordination and gives him the thrills (and giggles). You can also tune his decision-making skills by giving him an option of toys to choose from while playing.
Each stage of life must be experienced in the most fulfilling way possible. Make this time, that you spend with your newborn memorable and enjoyable. Each child has their own pace of learning; you can always encourage him, but let him reach each milestone at his own pace.
Also Read: 15 Creative Activities for Toddlers