Play is the child’s work. At this age, our little humans play to explore, learn, and discover. This playtime is needed for their cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being. If you landed up here searching for activities for your infant, they don’t need much. Your child needs you more than anything. Of course, there are a few activities for baby that you can do.
Talk, talk, talk
The more we talk the better it is. Their young brain is like a sponge absorbing every sound, every movement. Talk while they are awake, or having a massage, taking a bath, changing diapers. Basically, most of their waking moment. Sing them traditional songs, folklores, rhymes. Talk to them about the objects around them. They would imitate you.
Studies say, children who have parents/caregivers who talk to them often tend to develop stronger language and conversational skills. The baby talk is important. Children would always reward you with babbles, coos and gurgles. They communicate with either smiles or cries. It is endearing to see how each response does have eye-contact with a parent.
Our playful voice modulations excite the baby’s brain. Infants incline to pay attention and answer eagerly.
P.S. Do remember the child loves your voice over screen time.
Massage is a great baby to bond with the baby. It is relaxing. You do understand now why grandma used to advise often on telmalish practice. Massage can soothe your baby and help in sleeping. Massage has added benefits too, like aiding digestion, improving circulation, even weight gain.
Placing an awake baby on his/her tummy under supervision is another important thing. It serves the purpose of promoting motor skills. How? It can help babies develop strong neck and shoulder muscles. Even help to strengthen back muscles. During tummy time you can talk to the baby, place toys in reachable distance, put sensory bottles, show contrast books or textured cloth books. Anything that encourages baby to explore or listen. Babies love faces. Let them discover the child in the mirror.
Other than motor skills and sensory experience, the baby would also develop hand-eye coordination with tummy time.
When the baby is about 5-6 months during tummy time place the objects little further. This would encourage them to go near them. Expect commando crawling. Earlier they might be going rolling – tummy to back and back to tummy. Please avoid taking the timeframe as must do milestones, some kids do it early and others give you time to prepare before going all set.
Read to them
Reading together is another bonding time. In India, we have a tradition of garbhasankar, where we teach/ talk to the baby in the womb. Even studies say that a child is aware of the mother’s voice from birth. It soothes them, so talking to newborn (point 1) do make perfect sense. Introducing books for this age might sound funny to some. They might ask – as what would the child understand? The child would obviously not go on understanding Shakespeare’s Macbeth but the right kind of books do hold their attention.
While reading the baby would enjoy your company, your voice modulations, facial expressions, etc. Let them hold, grab and chew their book, they are discovering and exploring. Again, remember the right types of book is needed here, like fabric books or board books.
Peekaboo is a universally loved game. It never gets old, played by generations. And it is always rewarding with loud giggles of the child. One of the powerful learning tools.
Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget called this ‘object permanence’. She suggested that babies spent the first two years of their lives working it out. They test and re-test the permanence of objects and people, the principle of existence, things that stay even when they can’t see them.
We Indians have songs for every occasion, every season. Music plays an important part in our lives. Studies support that musical experiences can inspire reading skills and language development. Infants recognize music before they grab on words. White noise around the baby or calming music (add loris) soothes babies to sleep.
No wonder if your babies would demand you sing “Old McDonald” at midnight just to soothe them. If you are a soon-to-be mom, revise on some lovely songs. They might turn handy.
Mirror, mirror on the wall,
who the cutest of them all?
Babies love to watch themselves. Either place a mirror during tummy time or you can walk near the dresser and talk to the baby on the wall. Your baby would love all the expressions in the mirror. Be silly.
If you are a Montessori living enthusiast, the mirror is a staple in the Montessori baby environment. A low mirror gives the baby a perception of his/her environment. They try to concentrate and coordinate movements.
The soft mat with aches dangling toys is a play gym. Some of the play gyms have mirrors, soft toys and musical ones to engage the baby. This one again works on the baby’s motor skills, hand-eye coordination, visual skills, and sensory stimulation. One can start using it with a newborn but babies around 3-6 months enjoy this the most. Once they start crawling, the baby gym gets deprived of their attention. Instead of investing in one, you can always choose to get one from friends or cousins. If you want a new one, we would recommend this.
Clapping and fisting
In Odisha, we call this game Kamuchi. Make a fist and release, repeat. Later add rotation. When the child imitates you, they are working on their fine motor skills, grasping skills and play around.
Clapping babies are often seen as happy babies. But can you notice how gleefully they mastered control over them to bring two hands together and make a sound? It requires coordination and concentration. Additionally, they realize hand is a part of their body.
Let the puppets dance to your tunes and get shaken. Using finger puppets helps in visual stimulation, and it is interactive. Baby’s eyes would follow the puppet movements, try to grab them. A good play and storytelling time. You can make DIY puppets or get one from the market, like this.
What is/was your child’s favorite game at this age? Do have some more ideas, drop in the comment.
Are you wondering what to do next as the baby grows? The post covers play ideas and activities for babies 6-12 months.
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