Many parents wonder how to play with their newborn baby. Today our beloved Occupational Therapist Kate Archer shares 5 ways to play with your baby at every stage from 0-12 months.
0-3 monthsBabies aged 0-3 months see best at a distance of 8-10 inches from their face. Try holding brightly colored visuals (rattles, toys) within their field of vision while having them track horizontally and vertically while lying on their back.Provide your baby tummy time to gain strength by lying them on their belly for a few minutes, a couple times a day. An alternative way to provide tummy time is by lying your child on your chest so you are face-to-face with your baby. Make sure to sing, play peek a boo and talk to your baby during tummy time!Hold baby’s hands and clap together as you sing nursery rhymes so they are able to start developing tactile and auditory senses. Another way to encourage the development of auditory senses is by playing familiar songs to help soothe and calm your baby.Give your baby massages while applying gentle pressure with lotion following bath time! This will help calm your baby as well as develop their body awareness and tactile sense.Safely hold baby on their belly on a large yoga ball while rocking them forward and backward. This will help them develop their vestibular sense as well as strengthen their back and neck muscles!
4-6 monthsIntroduce your baby to different textures such as wool, velvet, and silk for added tactile awareness. Try putting different textures pillows in front of your baby to let them reach and feel in front of them!Blow Bubbles! This will encourage reaching and will help to develop your child’s visual tracking skills.Lift your baby up into different positions to develop his or her vestibular and balance development! You can also place them in a bucket swing once they are able to sit with some support.Hold cause and effect toys near your kiddo’s feet so they can kick them! This will help bring your child’s feet into the air and help them coordinate their foot movements.Your baby is now able to reach and grasp fun toys! Encourage them to play with various textured balls, soft books, or rattles. Colorful mobiles and play mats are also great toys for your 0-3-month-old to develop these skills.
7-9 monthsYour baby is now starting to understand spatial concepts. Fill up a box with fun toys and have them help fill it up as well as dump them out of the container!Let your child develop their senses and go outside to play. Introduce them to grass, sand, leaves, sticks, rocks and let them feel the varying textures.Lay toys around baby that are slightly out of reach. This will encourage reaching, rolling and crawling to get to the toy.Give your baby two toys, one in each hand. Then present your baby with a third toy to encourage problem solving in order to reach and grasp the third toy.Complete fun activities while sitting to help them develop their muscles. You can place them on a ball, read them a book, or sing songs.
10-12 monthsPut a mirror in front of your baby and make gestures while talking to your baby. You can identify body parts during diaper time or in front of a mirror to help them develop body awareness.Allow your baby to crawl over pillows, through tunnels or different obstacles while supervised. Motivate your child to crawl under and over objects within the home.Encourage your baby to grasp toys and drop them! Also, let them play with toys they can stack and crash such as rings or blocks. Some other age appropriate toys include nesting toys, large 3-piece puzzles, pegs and shape sorters.Have your child scribble! Let them try different mediums of imitating scribbles including markers, crayons, paint and shaving cream!Encourage your baby to try blowing kisses, playing hide and seek, clapping their hands or waving hi and bye to family and friends!
The goal is to have fun while helping your child develop important milestones. If you have any concerns with your child’s development please contact T.E.A.M. 4 Kids to schedule a speech therapy, feeding therapy, physical therapy or occupational therapy evaluation.
Kate Archer M.S. OTR/L