Put paper into a shredder if you have one. Otherwise, cut paper into long thin pieces. You can use a variety of paper. For instance, construction paper, printer paper, magazine sheets, scrap paper, or newspaper. Then put it all in a tub where he can play away. He will be transfixed with pulling the paper apart and feeling how it crumples together.
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!
This is a simple activity that captivates little ones. It usually is the simple ones. Grab a tub and fill it with water. Grab different types and sizes of paper and stack it next to the tub. Example paper types: printer paper, scratch paper, notes, magazine pages, or construction paper. Watch as she dips, pushes, and soaks the paper in the water. After awhile of play, you can add a new element by giving her child friendly tongs, spoons, ladels, or cups to poke, scoop and play with the paper.
Go to the store and pick out different color and shaped pasta. There are spiral, shells, macaroni, or wheels to name a few kinds. Next, dump a bit of each kind in a baking dish or tub and let her explore all the different shapes! Watch so she does not put the pasta in her mouth.
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.
Babies and young children naturally get bored. They were born that way! Have you noticed they don’t seem as interested in the same toy or the same game when it has been done repetitively? Keep things interesting by changing it up! Draw their focus to other aspects of the toy or game. By encouraging their attention, you begin to lay the groundwork for perseverance, motivation and focus- all necessary life skills. Here are ways to stimulate these characteristics.
What’s New Here? Rotate her toys! Try rotating in new toys every week or two. Only a handful is necessary- you don’t have to completely change all of her toys. When we say new, we don’t mean brand new either! Just toys she hasn’t seen for a bit and are “new” to her today. You can keep rotating in and out with the toys she already has!
Old Toy, New Toy! The same toy can seem novel and new in a new environment! It is that easy to shake things up! Place a few of her favorite toys in a new place- the car, bathroom, kitchen, grandma and grandpa’s house are just a few examples. Take her hairy gorilla, put curlers in its hair, and put it in front of Mom’s makeup counter.
It’s in the Details. Focus on different uses of a toy or different characteristics of the toy. “Wow, this horsey can suddenly fly!” “Look how I can spin the rattle!” “I like the triangle pattern on this toy!” Or, if you always play with her a certain way, spice it up! Always move her legs? Move her arms too or move her legs in various ways. Always throw and catch her up in the air? Try swinging her from side to side instead.
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!
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!
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.
Depending on your baby, can maybe try these activities as young as 6 months. Usually around 9 months, however, is when the pincer grasp may first be developing.
Baby is a pro at reaching and grabbing what they want! The next fine motor milestone programmed in their DNA, is the pincer grasp- grabbing with the thumb and finger. Before they may have successfully grabbed small objects by scooping and tightly grabbing with their palm. But now, they will realize and practice the finer movement of grabbing with their fingers. You can help them along with this motor skill development by fun play activities to introduce and refine the pincer grasp.
Your baby loves to squeeze, push and pull things apart. Luckily, this helps her strengthen those little muscles of her hand.
- Let her squirt and squeeze those bath toys
- Squeeze squishy balls
- Play with Mega Blocks
- Embed toys in playdoh and have her pull them out
The act of pointing or poking is a great first step. It helps isolate that pointer finger.
- Play with your baby and ask her to point at birds or planes she sees; point at pictures in books; or point at cheerios on her plate. Take at least 5 minutes to do this
- Push holes in play dough, the rug or carpet or squish food. Take at least 10 minutes to do this
- Poke at toys with buttons, holes, or switches. Take at least 5-10 minutes to do this