Significance of Play and Movement for Babies
Movement and play are as essential for your baby’s development, as regular feeds and sleep. Here are some tips to ensure that your little baby is active, and playing well for her age.
As parents, you cannot imagine skipping your baby’s feed time or compromising on her nap schedules, but one of the most commonly overlooked factors is your baby’s play time. Remember that keeping your baby active through age-appropriate movement and plays is crucial for her development. Here are some tips and play ideas which will help you ensure that you have this little active baby at home.
Why is Movement and Play So Important?
For your baby, her own body is as new to her as the world around. Playing is her way of testing out her body parts, as well as exploring the world around her. Each play session gives your baby a chance to learn something new. Research consistently proves that active play time has an positive impact on your baby’s social and intellectual skills. Movement is crucial for your baby’s physical development.
1. Physical Development
Play and movement will help your child develop her motor skills (fine and gross), as she will learn to use different parts of her body. Every time your baby waves her hand or kicks out, she is taking in information about how her body parts work in isolation, and together. While engaged in movements like rolling over, crawling or sucking, your baby is actually laying the foundation for her muscle development, which in future, will enable her to do multiple functions like spooning food into her mouth, kicking a ball, and so on.
2. Mental Development
Movement and play encourage your baby to use her mind and body together. It encourages her to think. For instance, a simple game of peek-a-boo will teach your baby that even if you disappear from her line of view, you are still there. Your baby learns how to solve problems using movements. For example, if she wants a toy which is out of her reach, she rolls over or crawls towards the toy and grabs it.
How can you Help your Baby Move and Play?
Movement and play are a natural instincts in your child’s development, and it need not involve expensive toys. Your presence and time is more valuable to your baby than any expensive gadget or toy.
Free Play on The Floor
Playing on the floor helps the baby to work on her posture that will later help her sit erect. It will also help her strengthen her muscles which will make activities like crawling, rolling over, etc. easier for her to do. Place your baby on a warm and comfortable mat and encourage her to move. For instance, you could show her, her favourite toy, and keep it just out of her reach so that she will be tempted to grab it. Never force movements that your child may not be ready for. Also, never leave a child unattended. For babies, lying on their tummies for shorter periods of time is beneficial as it helps to strengthen their backs. Most babies dislike this position, so help your baby by distracting her, or getting down to her level so that she feels comforted. You can keep some appropriate music in the background and move your hands in tune to the song, while making facial expressions to go with it. Show her colorful pictures and dangling toys to encourage her eye movement. This will also be a good exercise for her eyes. If your baby is above 6 months, you can give her toys of different sizes and textures (keeping in mind that they are age-appropriate) and encourage her to touch and feel them. This will encourage your baby to start using her fingers to hold objects. Help your baby to move her body, or to crawl by making interesting spaces like a cardboard tunnel for her to crawl through. Make sure you let the baby lift her body up, and eventually stand up. You can give her a hand to lift her body up if she wants to get something on the sofa, rather than physically lifting her. Make sure you have durable furniture for her to hold while she tries to lift her body up.
Use every opportunity possible to cuddle your baby and express your love. With even a simple peek-a-boo, your baby may kick out or wriggle her hands in response. Get involved in her play as much as possible and cherish her early play adventures.