One way for babies to learn is through exposure to play and exploration from the time they were born in order to stimulate their senses. This helps to build strength, develop basic reflexes, coordination, and provide essential input to the sensory systems.
Playtime is the best stimulation for brain and muscle development. It’s also the best gift parents – and even caregivers – can give for optimum growth and potential. It can help encourage communication and increase the baby’s attention span.
Here are the few play ideas that support developmental skills for babies from 0-12 months.
Tummy time is important for babies especially for ages 0-3 months. It strengthens their head, neck, and upper body muscles in order to build the strength and coordination for rolling, crawling, reaching, and playing.
It is best to do the tummy time when they are awake and with supervision to keep them safe.
2. Music and Singing
Babies just love to hear music, songs, and rhythms. It makes them feel calm and at ease. Singing with your baby encourages response and strengthens your relationship. It is also a way for them to distinguish auditory inputs and help them be able to differentiate their family members’ voices.
According to Laurel Trainor, Ph.D., the director of the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind, in Hamilton, Ontario, “Babies who move rhythmically to music smile more, are easier to soothe, and are more willing to explore their environment than babies who simply listen”.
3. Songs and Fingerplay
Fingerplays are hand movements paired with words or singing. Songs like Itsy Bitsy Spider and Five Little Monkeys are some of the common songs used in which they can learn the language, tune their motor skills, increase memory, and enhance their social skills.
Let babies try to imitate you and perform the fingerplays for more learnings and fun.
4. Bath and Massage
Bath time can be the most enjoyable experience for a baby. It exposes them to all sorts of sensations, like the feeling of floating in the water and the sounds of splashing, and it also helps you connect and strengthen your bond with your baby through skin-to-skin contact.
Massaging before bedtime can also help relax and comfort your baby so it’s easier for them to fall and stay asleep for a long time.
A rattle is an amusing toy for babies because they like the sound it makes. At the same time, it stimulates their sense of touch and develops their fine motor skills when holding and shaking it.
In addition, this also helps babies to develop a sense of directional hearing. They will follow where the sounds came from.
6. Stuffed toys
Stuffed toys are not only cuddly, soft, and loveable. They can also offer a sense of comfort and security and help to stimulate a child’s sense of touch.
The different colors, sizes, and textures encourage babies to touch, grasp, and explore them with their mouths. Be sure to give soft toys suitable for under 12 months of age that don’t have any small detachable parts or loose fibers that may be a choking hazard for your baby.
7. Stacking Cups
Using stacking cups is another way to have fun together with your baby. Letting them pick items up and put them in place helps to develop their motor skills as they grasp and release, and control and position their fingers.
Furthermore, it also promotes hand-eye coordination in which the baby is capable to take sensory input from the eyes and transform it into actions with the hands.
Another best way to support interaction and teach communication is through reading books. It promotes visual engagement, exposure to early literacy, language experiences, and healthy family relationships.
Reading aloud to your baby stimulates the senses and builds listening and memory skills which can support your baby to grow up to be a reader.
Balls are simple toys that can strengthen your baby’s motor skills and develop their hand-eye coordination. Baby’s are naturally attracted to a ball’s rolling movement. It keeps them entertained for a long time. It also helps build their balance.
Playing balls with your little one also helps build your social bond with each other.
10. Activity station
When babies are ready to stand and move, it can be a great help. They are good at providing support in balancing and practicing their first steps.
In addition, it also promotes a sense of independence where they can explore, learn, and help to strengthen their developing muscles.
Babies from 0-12 months need lots of different stimulation which means providing activities where they can use their body to explore to be able to learn and to play freely, of course in a safe environment.
There are lots of activities or play for babies. Do what you think is applicable and most importantly, make sure to keep their environment safe and free from harm.
To learn is to play and to play is to have fun.