Congratulations! Your new baby is now between eight to twelve months old. She will be able to do many physical things that once seemed out of reach. Sitting up without assistance, crawling and exploring objects, to name a few. While its never too early to start thinking about your babies physical development, now is the right time to take action.
Just as your body needs exercise, and your mind needs stimulation, young babies need such an environment too.
There are countless ideas you can use, but here are fourteen of them to get you started in the right direction.
· Sit your baby on her bottom. Show her a toy and then place it behind her. This will encourage the new movement of turning to pick up the toy from behind. It requires a complex movement of muscles and co-ordination from a sitting position. Fine motor skills are also required to pick up the toy.
· Scatter cushions and pillows on your living room floor and encourage your baby to crawl through this soft obstacle course. With each change of course she will be utilizing and strengthening different sets of muscles as she turns. (Gross motor development)
· Prepare cold and warm moist hand towels for her. As the physical also involves the senses, giving your baby a wider experience of sensations is also a positive idea.
· Introduce push button toys. A toy with knobs, buttons and sliders are great way to encourage fine motor development.
· When ever your baby is on the other side of the room, get down on your hands and knees and encourage her to come to you. Getting her to crawl longer distances will encourage crawling skills and build little muscles.
· To support your babies standing skills, let her stand beside a stable piece of furniture. Its great to let her do this regularly, but never be tempted to leave her alone in this position.
· Set out a large cardboard box for her to crawl in and through. Again, one of many stimulating ways to encourage gross motor skills.
· Set down a toy to one side of your baby. By encouraging her to pick up or grab the toy with one hand, she will be using hand /eye co-ordination.
· Frequently play her nursery rhymes and songs. If you have your favorite, singing is a great way to bond and it will develop her sense of rhythm.
· Lay on your back in the middle of the living room floor and place her favorite toys and objects on your tummy. She will love crawling all over you to get to them. She will use both fine motor skills (to grasp objects) and gross motor skills to get about.
· Give your baby two cardboard tubes (one for each hand) and encourage her to beat them together. This will allow self expression, hand eye co-ordination, as well as develop muscles in the hand and wrists.
· Encourage ball play from a sitting position. Roll a soft ball to your baby and try to get her to acquire it. This will develop fine motor skills and help her to develop a sense of balance.
· Support your baby from a standing position and gently manipulate her hips and knees until she sits down. This will show her the movements needed to sit down on her own, and it will help her acquire balance.
· The next time you are in a playground place your baby on a swing or rocking horse and carefully support her while you gently move it. This will also aid in developing her sense of balance.
As I mentioned the opportunities are endless. The point is to remember these three main areas: Gross motor skills (Skills involving large muscle movement such as arms and legs) Fine motor skills (Think fingers and toes) and stimulation of the physical senses.
There is one more point that I would like to add. Adults tend to take great pleasure in “Walking” a baby by holding on to her hands and moving along with her. For some infants this can be uncomfortable and unnerving as the whole experience is somewhat unstable for them. It may not be unwise in some circumstances to instead provide greater security for your baby by allowing her to stand upright while holding on to furniture or to an adult who is sitting on the floor.