While I have already done a similar post as this for very young babies, this post is for babies aged 12-24 months. While every stage of your child’s life is important, with some particular aspects the window of opportunity is not left open for long. This is not to say that you have to be as knowledgeable as a doctor or qualified child care giver, or that you need to be obsessively focused on every stage of your child’s physical development, however playing the role of parent does mean that we need to find ways to keep our kids positively stimulated on some sort of a consistent basis.
If you have a baby that is 12 to 24 months old then you may like to consider some of the ideas below as a means to encouraging her physical development.
· When its bath time, try putting a cup in the bath with her. She will be able to scoop the water with the cup and empty it with one hand. This is a great fine motor skill.
· Play a game of “pick up”. Put some small toy objects on the floor and encourage her to put them in the toy basket. Doing this will lead her to bend over when picking up the objects. To do this without toppling over is a skill that she needs to practice at this stage.
· At mealtime give her a spoon and encourage her to feed herself. As well as learning this important self help skill she will also improve her eye-hand co-ordination.
· Get your baby to connect and stack blocks. This improves co-ordination and fine motor skills.
· From a standing position support your baby as little as possible and encourage her to walk. Your 13 month old baby will soon be taking a few steps but she will still need support to sit from a standing position at this stage.
· Get your baby to push a large ball. This is great for balance, eye-hand co-ordination and will also promote walking.
· If you have a sand box, or can go to the park or beach, make sand cakes using cups. The constant action of filling and emptying is great practice for little wrists and fingers.
· Give you child the largest crayon you can buy. Scribbling is also great exercise for the wrists and fingers.
· Do you have stairs? Take her up a few steps and then hold her steady as she tries to crawl further. This is good for gross motor and balance. Be sure to close the gate on your stairs when your done.
· Place two items of heavy furniture close, so that there is a short gap between them. Your baby can use the furniture as support as she takes her first steps between them.
These are all simple actions which foster both big and small muscle movement. You can come up with an endless variety yourself, of which your baby will decidedly have her favorites. What ever you do, make sure you keep her interested in what is going on around her by switching activities if she shows disinterest or by adding different variations if she is having fun.
This period is a very physical time for your baby. Your baby needs to touch , open, close, and explore and manipulate things as much as possible. Give her stimulating things to touch and play with, such as corrugated cardboard, sandpaper, ice or wool. Baby boys can be particularly energetic during this period, so if you don't have much space at home try and get out to the park each day.
It is also a time for independence. As she transcends from the security of babyhood to the courageous domain of independence, she will need your encouragement, patience and empathy. Your gentle guidance in this respect will shape her character more than you may expect. The guidance you give her now, in making this transition, will surely affect her for the rest of her life. What she really does not need is a negative emotional response from you as she attempts to experiment with her will. If you come up against a brick wall so to speak, don't scold her, simply let the moment pass (let her energy expend its self) and then gently try a different approach. A mothers patience is definitely a blessing!