There are so many everyday ways you can impact your baby’s development. In fact, no one has more influence on your baby than you.
Along with providing the right nutrition, here are some simple activities you can do to encourage how she grows and learns.
Introduce containers. Show your baby how to place smaller toys inside of a bigger one, and then dump them out and start over. Blocks in a box or small bucket work well; so do simple household items like spoons, plastic lids, plastic cups, and pots.
Try a little give and take. Playfully ask your baby to hand you a toy she’s holding. Hold out your hand to underscore your message (“Can you share your rattle with Mommy?”). She’s beginning to understand that when you ask for something, she can respond. This is good practice!
Play “Where did it go?” Cover a toy with a blanket and ask your baby where it went. She will start to look for the missing toy, whereas earlier, it was a case of “out of sight, out of mind.” When she finds it, cheer, “Yes, there it is!”
Plan for longer playtime. Don’t be surprised if your baby wants to prolong floor time as she plays in a child-safe space. To extend her attention span, rotate her toys, set up (safe) obstacles for her to climb over, or provide a child-safe tent or cardboard box for her to crawl into.
Set up stacking. Give your baby stacking toys (like blocks or rings) to play with while she’s sitting up on her own. She will be encouraged to use her hands and keep her seated balance at the same time.
Add toys to water play. Sit your baby in the bathtub with a few inches of water and an assortment of toys so she can practice sitting and handling objects at the same time. Keep her under constant watch when in the water.
Create a new play place. Seat your baby in a high chair even when it’s not mealtime so she can play with small toys and work on transferring them from one hand to the other.
Talk to your baby often. She’ll be more engaged if you use exaggerated speech and facial expressions. Point out people, places, and things you encounter. Your baby now understands quite a lot of what you say through your body language, tone of voice, and context.
Bring books everywhere. Take them along in the car and to the grocery store, for example. Offer your baby waterproof books that she can look at in the bathtub.
Introduce animals. Read books that feature photographs or illustrations of animals, pointing to each animal, naming it, and making the corresponding sound.
Recite nursery rhymes and sing songs. Your baby will enjoy and learn from the rhyming patterns.
Rely on routine. Structure your baby’s day around a predictable schedule. A familiar timetable is very comforting for babies and helps them feel secure. Weekends and weekdays should follow a similar pattern.
Wave good-bye when you leave. This practice teaches (and reinforces) an important lesson: When you leave, you’ll always come back.
Welcome a “lovey.” If your baby has trouble separating from you, encourage her to carry a favorite blanket or toy wherever she likes. Also called transitional objects, loveys are a convenient stand-in for you that helps instill your baby with a sense of security.
Take turns. Roll a ball to your baby, or stack blocks and knock them down, then let her have a turn. Turn-taking games teach about social interaction.