Developing motor skills is an important to-do on the baby development checklist. While it might feel like your little one has a cushy life full of naps and cuddles, you’re probably eager to find age-appropriate ways to help them become more active. Here are a few tips for age-appropriate motor development.
In the Early Months (Birth to Three Months)
When the world is brand new, everything is entertaining. In the first few months of life, your baby just wants to bond with his parents and enjoy new sensory experiences. Keeping your newborn infant close with a sling helps them feel secure. As your baby grows, give them opportunities for tummy time to help them stretch and develop muscles that will be needed for later activities like sitting and crawling.
Activities for 3 Months and Beyond
Once your baby is aware and learning how to function within their own environment, adding simple activities will help your baby explore. Incorporating an activity mat into your baby’s schedule will help keep them engaged.
Hanging a mirror so they can see themselves or placing a rattle toy within their reach helps young babies learn how their body interacts with the world around them. As your baby increases mobility, adding colorful plastic cups within their reach engages their curiosity and problem-solving skills when they stack the cups, knock them over, and rearrange them.
Those early years of infancy go quickly, and you can keep your baby engaged by having them find cotton balls or small bean bags in old diaper wipe containers.
Keeping Your Toddler Engaged
Once your baby is 12 months old they’re on the move. Keeping a toddler engaged can be simple if you provide new experiences. Sensory toys, bins, and encounters are all ways to keep your toddler entertained and independent so you can accomplish things too.
Try putting shaving cream and food dye into a bag and taping the bag to the floor. Letting your child move the colors around to create a masterpiece of artwork will instill independent thinking. You can also provide problem-solving situations when you create sensory bins filled with rice, beans, or water beads to have them find surprises within (supervision is, of course, required here.)
Your needs also change while your baby grows. Therefore, it is important that you pay attention not only to the baby, but to yourself as well. As the baby grows, think of what activities that are age appropriate will excite you too. For example, it is never too early to begin reading to your baby, as that may later foster a love for reading as they grow up. Another good example is music, as playing music for babies has shown to stimulate brain activity, help with speech and language development, and help with math and reading skills.