Roll the Ball Baby Game

As those of you with glasses can attest (why-o-why Grandma!), sight is hereditary.  But wait! Experience has a huge role too!  Especially in learning and sharpening many visual abilities, such as shape, size, and spatial orientation skills;  fine & large movement coordination skills; and visual abstraction skills. Experience has its biggest impact on kids’ visual abilities until the age of 2 and tapers off until 8 or so years old.  Make sure to let your baby’s eyes get exposed to a variety of situations, details, features, and so on.  Many of these visual experiences can easily be paired with fun activities or engaging other senses!

Take a ball and roll it back and forth between you and him.  Sitting in a straddle position with his legs out will be easy for the ball to stay within his reach.  Take turns rolling it back and forth to each other.  As he gets older, make the distance greater between you two.  For instance, if he is 9 months, maybe only sit a couple of feet apart.  If he is 2 years old, you could go half way across the room, and he can even stand to catch the rolling ball!

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Power of Touch Baby Activity

In one study, 4 month olds who received an 8 minute massage performed better on early memory and sensory skills tests.  Ideas on baby massage:

  • Make sure the environment has no additional stimulus in the background (aka TV) and that the temperature of the room is warm and comfortable for him.  You ideally want skin-to-skin contact.  If comfortable with using, you can use small amounts of oil for massaging, such as vegetable oil.  Aim to massage for 8 minutes at least.
  • Start by massaging her head very gently- do not apply too much pressure in this area.  Try massaging in lines down her muscles of her arms and legs and circular movements over her joints.  Then gently extend her arm and leg at the end of her massage.  Rub her belly gently in the direction of her colon- clockwise.  Aim for at least an 8 minute massage.

Molding Tastes Sensory Baby Activity

It’s pretty much all environmental when it comes to developing our taste preferences.  Our hereditary genes have just a smidgen of a factor.  So, you as parents have a huge impact on your kids’ natural food choices and what they will like or not like to eat.

Try a new vegetable and fruit this week!  Maybe it’s garlic spinach, acorn squash mixed with nutmeg, or sautéed yellow squash and onions as your new veggie of the week.  For fruit, try kiwi, mango, or blueberries (make sure they are ripe).  If they do not eat it on the first try, it doesn’t mean they do not like it.  It just means they are not used to it.  Try this same vegetable and fruit again later this week and repeat tries 3 weeks in a row!

See, Reach, Touch Infant Activity

Your baby has been rigorously practicing reaching and grabbing, and with all the swatting at toys, they have finally been able to successfully reach and grab (on average starts around 4-5months)and maybe even do this consistently and in a very controlled fashion(starts around 6-7months). Continue to let them hone their skills through fun practice of reaching for what they want. This also stimulates their sense of vision and touch!

Offer a variety of objects that differ in size, shape, and texture.  Let her feel what it is like to hold a smooth ball versus an object with corners; a small toy that she can easily hold in one hand or a larger toy requiring to use two hands; a toy that has different parts that dangle versus a solid object, to name just a few examples.  Be careful not to overwhelm her with too many toy options.  Pick 3-5 toys on which she can focus.  Who knows, she may even reach for 2 toys for each hand!

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Peek-a-Boo Baby Game

Engage your baby with simple play and language learning just happens!

Use a soft cloth and gently cover his eyes.  You can say: “Where’d baby go?!”  Then lift up the cloth and smile big and say “Oh!  There you are silly!”  Repeat and watch your baby giggle!

Hearing Sensory Baby Activity

Your baby’s vision is rather poor in their early days, but their hearing provides a great stimulus and input of knowledge to what’s going on in the outside world.  Through the world of sound, your baby learns your voice, language, music, birds chirping, wind blowing, and other sounds of their environment.  No matter your baby’s age, remember it is important to supply them with different experiences of sound for their development!

Richness in Sound:  Give her a rich experience of sound!  Take her for a walk outside where many of her senses will be engaged!  She can feel the breeze and warmth of the sun on her skin, she can hear the world of sounds outside, and she can feel her body in motion.  Aim to walk at least 15-30min.

Funny Talk: Get an empty paper towel roll and talk through it.  Vary it with silly sounds and words.  Pause and let your baby see your smiling face.  Repeat.  Describe to her what you are doing.  She will be so intrigued!  Give her a chance to play with the tube if she shows interest.

 

Peripheral Vision Baby Activity

Did you know young babies see better with their peripheral vision?  That’s why you have noticed his eyes rolling to the corners or seems to be more interested in a toy to the side of him and disinterested when it is right in front of him.

Take advantage of this fact and hang your baby’s brightly colored mobile or toys more to the side of the crib, playpen, or bassinet.  He may notice them more if they are in line with his peripheral vision.

 

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Power of Touch2 Baby Activity

It is easy to understand that activating your baby’s sense of touch is necessary for her development of sensory-motor skills, but what is less known and amazing is its effect on other aspects of your baby’s development and well-being.  Touch has been shown to have a strong relationship to her immune system, brain power, physical growth, and emotional health.

Baby Massage!  Give your baby a full body baby massage by gently rubbing, stroking, & squeezing parts of his body.  You don’t want to be too soft, but of course not too rough either.  Loving touches are the way to go!  Suggested progression: thighs, knees, calves, top of feet, bottom of feet, toes, shoulders, top of arm, lower arm, back and front of hand, fingers, chest, tummy, back of neck, shoulder blades, back, bum.

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Balance and Motion Infant Activity

Our vestibular system is a sensory system to help us with balance, position, and motion.  When this sense is stimulated in babies (usually by some form of movement), it not only helps their sensory abilities develop, but also helps their motor abilities and early brain development overall.  As you have probably already discovered when you trigger it, the added  benefit is that it is comforting to your baby!  Here are ways to stimulate the vestibular system:

  • Sit in a comfortable seat and lay your baby on your lap.  Sway and rock your baby rhythmically and gently from side to side.  Talk or sing to her.
  • Rock, jiggle, swing, bounce, and carry your baby around.  Even putting her in a sitting position (make sure she is developmentally ready) or propped up on pillows is a different position compared to what she’s usually in and will stimulate her vestibular system.

As always, practice safety.  Do not do rigorous movements.  Make sure your baby’s head is stabilized either by you or by themselves if they are strong enough.