Activities That Stimulate Physical Development in Infants
Your baby may not do much more than cry, sleep and eat when you bring her home. But from day one, she is growing, changing and learning. She will accomplish a number of amazing things over the next few months, and, with just a few simple activities and a little of your time, you can help her be her best, and strengthen the bond between you.
To stimulate your baby's vision, give him plenty to look at. Show him brightly colored pictures with interesting patterns. Look through a family photo album and name the people he sees. Show him his reflection in a mirror. And to help his focus, pass a toy back and forth across his face so that he can track it with his eyes.
Talk and sing to your baby often. Play her a variety of music styles, from soft, soothing lullabies to happy, lively tunes. Give her toys with rattles and bells inside, and let her make her own instruments with your pots, pans and utensils.
Your baby thrives on your touch--especially skin-to-skin contact. But beyond affection, you can use touch as a learning tool. Touch your baby with a range of items with different textures. When he is old enough to grasp objects, give him toys with interesting textures and shapes to feel and manipulate on his own.
Gross Motor Skills
From about 1 month to about 7 months old, tummy time is an important activity for your baby. Tummy time encourages her to develop skills like head control, rolling over and, eventually, crawling. When she is old enough to be mobile, you can help your baby's development by engaging her in a gentle game of chase or hide-and-seek.
Fine Motor Skills
As soon as he is ready, give your baby a wide variety of objects to manipulate and hold. At about 9 months old, you can let him hold his own spoon as you feed him. You can also cut foods like fruits, soft vegetables and cheese into small pieces, and encourage him to feed himself. At first, he may grab the food with his whole hand and bring it to his mouth in a clenched fist, but eventually, he will have the dexterity to pick up small items with his thumb and forefinger.
You can help your baby gain strength by encouraging her to pull herself into sitting and standing positions repeatedly with your support and help. Make sure to change activities if she gets frustrated, and to praise her for her accomplishments. Older babies can build strength and stamina by dancing, chasing a ball or using mom or dad as a pommel horse.
The best, and most fun way to develop your baby's coordination is through play. Younger babies enjoy batting at toys. If your baby is older, you can play actual games, like rolling a ball back and forth, hiding a toy under a blanket and having him find it or blowing bubbles as he tries to catch them. You can also build a tower of blocks together or stack colorful nesting toys.