There is a lot of information available online about activities and games that you can play with toddlers and pre-schoolers, but what about our tiny learners? Did you know that your little baby’s early development, depends to a great extent on the kind of stimulation they get from their environment.
What all a baby can do by the age of 3 months will deserve a post to itself. There is also a rather wide range of what is normal or acceptable state of development at this stage. Vaguely speaking, by now, they are on their way to identifyng some people, tracking objects with their eyes, grabbing things and hold them for a while and will now initiate communication with you through coos, gurgles and smiles instead of always waiting for you to make some sound first.
Physically, they will be strengthening their neck and gaining some upper body strength too;that is, they can hold the weight of their chest and neck on their arms when lying on their tummy.
It is also likely that some sort of schedule is in place and you are settling into your new role as a parent, which makes it an ideal time to start making a conscious effort towards the development of your child.
Before we get into our recommended activities for little ones, here is an important insight into the significance of this phase. There is a very interesting theory by renowned child psychiatrist Margaret Mahler on early child development. She notes that the new born child is very detached from the rest of the world and rather self absorbed. In the next stage, the child feels that he/she and the mother are 1 unit. She says that till this stage the baby lives in a shell, with a barrier separating them and their mother from the rest of the world.
It is later around 3-4 months that they start exploring the world around them, with the mother or primary caregiver as a point of orientation. She calls this phase as ‘hatching’ (to mean hatching out of the shell), where the baby starts to be more interested in the outside world, and starts to understand/relate to other human connections. Fascinating, isn’t it?
When we had a 3 months old around, we found that our baby was alert for a longer period of time. So, we always had some activities at hand to make the most out of her time awake. It began with our obsession to video tape our little one’s waking hours for our family spread across the length of the country. We did different things to make the videos fun to tape and see.
Here are some ideas for you to make the most out of this phase with your little one.
1. Place A toy on Baby’s Chest
Place a small toy that is not too heavy on the baby’s chest. This can hold the baby’s attention for a long time. They will be busy patting, tugging and grabbing at the object you place on their chest. A sensory ball, a soft rattle, plush toy are all good options to try.
(Note:Expect babies to take the toy to the mouth, this is natural. Do not discourage the baby from doing this. You will just end up putting a lot of effort and never succeed!! Save the energy guys!! Alternatively, focus on keeping the toys clean and free of germs by washing or sterlising often.)
2. Hang some toys from their cribs
Another way to enhance your child’s early sensory experience would be to hang some toys over their crib, bassinet or just off the back-rest of your bed (if you are co-sleeping)
The muscle movement of reaching out to grab the toys that are hanging, the hand-eye coordination they will need to get to that toy and the love to see colourful bright coloured things are all good for the baby. A wind-up musical toy, colourful plush toys or a cot mobile would be great to try.
3. Tummy Time
Now is a good time to give your baby some tummy time, this helps them gain strength in the neck, back and trunk. It also helps with symptoms of gas and bloating in babies. It is also said to help baby through their early milestones like rolling over and crawling. At first this could be a little uneasy for the baby. So we started with tummy time on mommy’s chest first. When you do give them tummy time in the initial days, you can roll a towel into a bolster and place it under their chest. Once they know what to expect, they get used to it and actually have a ton of fun. Try to keep a small mirror, a musical toy or yourself at their level to make tummy time more fun.
Oldest trick in the box! But, did you know why it is so popular? It teaches children that even when something is not visible, it is still exists. This is called Object Permanence. Get your baby’s attention, then keep your hands on our face, and then bring it down and excitedly say peekaboo! You can put a scarf or dupatta on your baby’s head and then remove it and say ‘there you are’ with just as much excitement.. their reaction to this will surely make this a hit with you!
image from: bebezclub
5. Dance and Music
I used to love dancing in front of our baby when she was tiny. I would add her names to action songs and just move around. The exercise was good for me and she gave me all sorts of curious expressions. Did you know that one of the 1st words children associate meaning to is their name? Try dancing WITH your littles too. Make sure to not include any jerky movements and to take a break every minute or so, to ensure it is not too much stimulation for the baby. Just some light moves with the baby in your arms can be fun!
6. Talk to the Baby
This is the least hyped activity of all. Talk to your baby, keep changing the expressions on your face. At this stage, babies are very curious about faces and different expressions will surely interest them while also motivating them to imitate you. Talk to your little one and wait for them to respond. Try this and see what happens.
7. Tracking Objects
If you move a rattle around, your baby will learn to follow its movement. Start with a sound making toy and then you can try with other quiet but colourful objects too. This is one of the first things they learn and enjoy doing once they settle into their new world.
8. Play Gym
We started using a play gym at this stage. Play Gyms are great for baby’s sensory experience as well as motor skills development. It also saved us from purchasing more toys as it was an all-in-one ideal prepared playtime environment for the kiddo.
Depending on your choice, you can choose to buy toys or opt to make them at home. (A post on DIY Toys for babies less than 6 months will be coming up soon). The important bit though, is that you spend quality time with the baby. Planning activities with the little one means that you go beyond placing toys strategically to keep them engaged. You are also letting them benefit from your company and presence. So, let those chores wait, and prioritise this fun time with the baby.
Try these activities if you have a pair of tiny feet at home, feel free to share your favorite activities from your early days with your child.
Eager to hear from you.