Play­ful love

Don’t let stim­u­lat­ing baby be­come a chore for you or her. De­vel­op­ment through play is the best way, writes Shanda Luyt

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

YOU OB­VI­OUSLY NEED to stim­u­late baby from birth, but what kind of stim­u­la­tion works for a pink­foot who isn’t talk­ing yet? Here are some ideas – choose those that fit your child’s stage of de­vel­op­ment.

4 MONTHS

TUMMY TIME FUN It’s very im­por­tant for your baby to spend enough time on her tummy at this stage, but it’s not al­ways her favourite po­si­tion. Make it eas­ier with a game: Place her on a towel, and use it to gen­tly roll her from side to side while you keep the beat by say­ing: “Roll, roll from side to side.” ➡ Strength­ens tummy, back and neck mus­cles

RIB­BON AND FOOT FUN Tie one end of a longish rib­bon to a small toy. Place baby on her back on the ground, and put a baby-gym frame above her. Tie the other end of the rib­bon loosely around her an­kle and hang the toy over the baby gym so she can eas­ily see it. The rib­bon should be short enough that the toy moves when she moves her leg. Help her move her foot, and then leave her to do it by her­self and see the im­pact. (You need to keep an eye on her.) ➡ Stim­u­lates vis­ual skills, cause-and- ef­fect un­der­stand­ing, prob­lem solv­ing and gross mo­tor skills

5 MONTHS

ROLLING RUMPUS Place a cylin­dri­cal cush­ion, a large rolled-up towel or in­flat­able plas­tic cylin­der (about 20cm in di­am­e­ter) un­der baby’s torso. Have her lie like this, with her chest raised, on a soft car­pet. See if she tries to push her­self up and for­ward. Hold her feet, lift them slightly, and gen­tly slide her for­ward, like that wheel­bar­row game. ➡ Strength­ens tummy and back mus­cles and gross mo­tor skills. Helps with crawl­ing

KNOW YOUR BODY Put baby on your lap, and sup­port her with one arm. Touch the dif­fer­ent parts of her face (and, later, her body) and say, for in­stance: “What’s this? It’s Nonto’s nose!” Then take her hand and get her to touch your nose while you say: “And what is this? It’s mommy’s nose!” ➡ Stim­u­lates lan­guage de­vel­op­ment and body aware­ness

6 MONTHS

BUB­BLE BODY BAB­BLE Let your baby sit on the ground. Blow soap bub­bles, and see if you can get them to land some­where on her body. She will love it! Use this op­por­tu­nity to name the dif­fer­ent parts of her body. “Where’s the bub­ble? It’s on your hand!” You can also name fur­ni­ture or other things the bub­bles land on. ➡ Stim­u­lates lan­guage de­vel­op­ment, body aware­ness, hand- eye co­or­di­na­tion and mo­tor skills

PUZ­ZLE Your baby can now com­fort­ably sit on her own and will en­joy games she can play while sit­ting. Give her her first “puz­zle” by get­ting her to pack a bunch of ten­nis balls into an oven pan.

Show her how to do it, and then watch her do­ing it by her­self. Praise her if she suc­ceeds. ➡ Stim­u­lates fine mo­tor and per­cep­tual skills

7 MONTHS

ROUND BOOK Stick a bunch of pic­tures on an empty pa­per-towel roll, and cover it with plas­tic wrap. Roll the cylin­der and ask her to point out pic­tures, as in: “Where’s the dog?” Later, you can ask more ques­tions such as “What does the dog say? The dog says ‘woof!’” ➡ Stim­u­lates lan­guage com­pre­hen­sion and vis­ual skills

BALANCE! Sit on a couch with your baby on your lap near your knees while she’s fac­ing you. Hold your hands next to her body without touch­ing her (ready to catch her if she should lose her balance). Al­ter­nate your legs to the sides, or lift them and lower them (start slowly and pick up the pace as she be­comes more adept), or move them in cir­cles, and see if she can keep her balance. If she man­ages well, you can turn her around, so she faces away from you and does the same. ➡ Stim­u­lates balance and pro­pri­o­cep­tion (the brain’s abil­ity to know in which po­si­tions dif­fer­ent body parts are lo­cated)

8 MONTHS

TIME TO FLY! Place your baby on the ground in front of you. Hold her body un­der her arms and ask: “Are we go­ing to fly?” Count to three and say: “Wee!” And roll back un­til you’re ly­ing flat and baby is “fly­ing” above you. ➡ Stim­u­lates the vestibu­lar sys­tem

BABY FOOTIE Place an empty rub­bish bin on its side. Hold your baby with your arm un­der her chest, and help her to kick a ball into the bin with both feet. ➡ Stim­u­lates gross mo­tor skills

9 MONTHS

HAUL IT UP Your lit­tle one will at this point en­joy throw­ing toys from her high chair and de­mand­ing that you pick them up. It’s a fun game, but you can make it eas­ier by ty­ing her toys to the top of the high chair with string. Then show her how she can draw the toys up again her­self af­ter throw­ing them down. ➡ Stim­u­lates ob­ject per­ma­nence and fine mo­tor skills

SU­PER SCARVES Fill a shoe box with thin scarves or rib­bons tied to­gether to form one long one, like ma­gi­cians of­ten use. Make a hole in the lid of the shoe box. It should be just big enough that the scarves can eas­ily slide through when she pulls. Let the end peek out of the box, and en­cour­age her to pull. Talk about the dif­fer­ent colours and pat­terns of the scarves, and point out the con­stant sur­prise of an­other scarf – and an­other – ap­pear­ing from the box. (You need to keep an eye on her.) ➡ Stim­u­lates cu­rios­ity, fine mo­tor and lan­guage skills

10 MONTHS

MAGIC BOX Choose a shoe box with a loose lid, and show your lit­tle one how to put things in­side and take them out again. Later, you can make a large-ish hole in the lid and show her how she could throw toys into the box through the hole. She has to take the lid off again if she wants to take things out. Talk about what she’s throw­ing in: “What are you throw­ing next? The horse? And then?” You can cover each side of the box in­side with a dif­fer­ent tex­ture – such as vel­vet, sand­ing pa­per or mesh – and ask your lit­tle one to touch the sides. Say: “This feels coarse, right?” Show her how it looks.

Stim­u­lates per­cep­tual and fine mo­tor skills and lan­guage de­vel­op­ment STICKY SIT­U­A­TION Stick pieces of con­tact pa­per all over a hard floor and stick toys to th­ese. They should hold quite well. En­cour­age her to crawl from toy to toy and try and pull it off. She might strug­gle at first but will mas­ter it soon enough. ➡ Stim­u­lates prob­lem solv­ing and fine mo­tor skills

11 MONTHS

WHERE’S THE MU­SIC? Hide a wind-up toy that plays mu­sic (even a cell­phone) in a low spot some­where in the room, and ask your lit­tle one to crawl around look­ing for it. (You can crawl with her!) En­cour­age her, and make a big deal if she finds it. ➡ Stim­u­lates au­di­tory skills, prob­lem solv­ing and gross mo­tor skills

BOX TOWER Join forces and build a tower of boxes of dif­fer­ent sizes, such as shoe and ce­real boxes. At first, you might have to do most of the work, but ask your lit­tle one to push the tower over. She’ll do that with plea­sure. Call out loudly when the tower falls. Af­ter a while she’ll be keen to bring the boxes back and build to­gether. You can play the same game with soft blocks. ➡ Stim­u­lates fine mo­tor skills and cause-and- ef­fect com­pre­hen­sion

12 MONTHS

MEM­ORY GAME Make copies of por­trait pho­tos of fam­ily mem­bers, and stick them on cards; two per per­son. Help your baby find the match­ing cards. As soon as she’s able to put the sets to­gether, turn the cards around, so the pic­tures face down. Turn one around, find its match by turn­ing the oth­ers around and back un­til you hit the right one. ➡ Stim­u­lates mem­ory, prob­lem solv­ing and per­cep­tual skills

WHERE’S THE LIGHT? Stick thin coloured pa­per over the front part of a torch. Dim the lights, and shine the light around. Give your baby a chance to find the spot­light. Switch the light off and ask: “Where’s the light?” Shine it in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion and say, “There it is – on the cup­board!” ➡ Stim­u­lates vis­ual skills YB

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