Fun with the Little One: Five Ways to Play
Time has gone by so quickly that I didn’t realize my little girl is now such a charmingly social creature! She laughs, giggles, calls out (yells) to garner attention or provoke a response. When everyone decides to stand up from their seats, a loud squeal will echo across the room because the little miss also wants to go. She’s now a mobile baby who can roll over, crawl, pull up and sometimes even stand independently. Thumbs, fingers and labels seem to be her favorite chew things. Being the nine-month-old that she is, the “do it myself” stage is slowly beginning to emerge.
Here are some activities that you can do with your six month old (and older).
Your baby probably enjoyed rocking and even standing supported in your lap since she was a few months old. But now that her muscles are stronger, she’s even more motivated to stand on her own two feet with your assistance. You can practice this activity more by laying her down on her back (so she is facing you with her legs out straight) then gently helping her sit up then helping her stand. Complete each of these steps by allowing her to grip on your fingers while you help pull her up. Talk to her while you do this. Make sounds or sing with her as she looks at you. This keeps her mind engaged as you work on her gross motor skills and lower-body strength.
THE CLASSIC GAME OF CHASE!
This is a great game that you can involve your older children in. It takes at least two people to play. It helps build your baby’s social awareness and sense of trust. Start by slowly crawling after your baby saying “I’m going to get you…” Then gently grab your baby and say “I got you!” Giggles and laughter are always a response from my little Kaydi. Her brothers love doing this while they creep behind her. Our daughter loves it when Daddy lifts her in the air and kisses her neck. This also teaches her that Mommy can be fun and boisterous as well as calm and cuddly (in our case, big brothers too.) This also helps the child understand the range of social behaviors humans can show. This classic will keep her on her toes as a toddler and will remain a favorite until she becomes a big kid with hide-and-seek and tag.
THE LAUNDRY BASKET!
Stick your little one inside a laundry basket and place different textured cloths through the holes. Have her pull out each cloth while sitting inside. This is a great way to encourage her fine motor skills and also encourage her to use and explore her sense of touch. Placing them into different spots also allows her discover space while hearing your words helps her with language development. You can say, “Look Kaydi, this is soft.” Your baby’s manual dexterity, word recognition and social skills are all blossoming while you play this game.
Kaydi is enjoying this stage while her brothers aren’t quite as amused. As she gains greater hand and arm coordination, she is slowly discovering that she can turn into “baby godzilla.” She is learning to place the trains on the tracks but also to knock them off. She is also learning how knock down nicely built towers and train tracks that her brothers have put together. You can encourage your baby’s budding talent with towers of blocks, cereal boxes and cups. There are two steps in this: 1) the building up and 2) the knocking down. She is learning about different sizes and shapes as well as exploring spatial relationships. She’s throwing in some problem-solving and cause-and-effect skills as well.
LET IT ROLL!
You can use this to coax a baby who’s not a very enthusiastic crawler. A baby bottle filled with dried grains or beans or lentils can be an enticing lure. Just fill a baby bottle partially (so the contents will move) and roll it across the floor. Make sure the bottle is safely secured. If she won’t budge, show her how to roll it back and forth herself. She will love watching, listening and chasing these rolling bottles. This activity exercises gross motor skills and eye-hand coordination.
We know that interacting with our little one is vitally important throughout her life but it is during her first year that it is especially important and rewarding. Stimulating your child allows you to get to know your child and understand her temperament. This allows you to introduce and adjust your activities accordingly as well. Learn to respond to your baby’s cues and follow her lead. As you get to know your little one more and more, you will be able to decipher her personality and create engaging activities that will develop a loving and joyful bond.