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How to make Playtime more interesting with your Infant?

  • Kriti Aggarwal Jun 03, 2018

Isn’t your baby the most precious gift in the world? Isn’t it one of the most rewarding and humbling experiences of your life?

But many a time, as a parent you are clueless as to how to interact with them. Especially when you become a parent for the very first time. You are apprehensive about everything they do. You will do whatever is possible to make them comfortable and give them a happy and soothing environment for their overall growth.

For this, it is imperative to understand their language. As they are not able to speak, they give us signals in different situations like when do they want to play, when they are sleepy, when they are hungry etc. With little practice, you will be able to recognise those cues and react accordingly.

By understanding their unspoken actions and gestures, you can even make out when the baby is in a playful mood. Wouldn't it be wise if you know how they grow and accordingly if you plan some fun activities and buy toys according to their age andgrowth.Let’s explore some of the fun ways to interact with your infant in different phases of their growth during the first year.

0-3 Months

During the first couple of months, babies do not need toys. Newborns mostly spend their timeintaking the feed, sleeping, crying, peeing, and pooping. But they do look for interactions with people around them. They explore how to use their senses like taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing. So you should choose activities that involve stimulating their senses.

In initial months, babies hand movements are involuntary. When you place your finger in your babies hand, they close their fists immediately. It’s an automatic reflex action from the babies for touch sensation.  Try touching their knuckles with a Rattle, and you will notice them opening their fingers. In the beginning, when you place the rattle on their palm they will not hold it for long but with growing age, they’ll master the art of holding and dropping.

Babies start exploring the world around them with their eyes. By 2nd or 3rd week, your baby starts recognizing your face if it’s within 8-12 inches of their vision. As time passes by, they start recognising their near ones completely and love to play Peek-a-boo with them. (add peek-a-boo gif)

By this time, babies start imitating the expressions. They smile back when you smile at them. Babies enjoy the playtime they have with their parents so you can sing different songs or make sounds while changing their dresses, massage or while bathing. You can try out a different exercise that they will enjoy like flexing your baby’s legs in a bicycle movement or crossing their arms gently.

By the 8th week, their hand-eye coordination starts. They track moving objects in front of them by moving their eyes along with it. You can encourage your baby’s visual tracking further by alternating the sides while feeding so that both eyes get stimulated equally. This is the time when you can introduce Baby Gym to your little one. Most Baby Gyms have a baby-safe mirror and musical dangling toys. Babies find mirror very attractive and entertaining, by looking at their own reflection. You should choose a gym that has good texture toys which are easy to hold the babies.

You can also use a textured blanket or a designer Playmat as an alternative to Baby Gym. Playing on these playmats will strengthen your babies back, shoulder, arms and hand muscles.

Aren't you happy to see your babies first sign of visual, motor and cognitive development?

Of course! You must be. But you will be more delighted to see growth in these skills as your baby progresses with age.

4-6 Months

By this age, babies begin to explore hanging musical mobile or animal dangles with their hands and legs. This practice of reaching out to toys by kicking will surely help babies increase their gross motor skills. By now, they will discover the relationship between cause-and-effect. They will realize that creating sound by hitting a toy is great fun.

During these months, babies learn to coordinate between their thoughts and their body movements. Their fists become tighter and their reflexes turn into voluntary actions. They are able to pick toys with their hands and are able to transfer objects from one hand to another. As they become more playful, babies are now attracted to bright andcolorfultoys. Engagement with toys gives them the freedom to make their own choices and become self-reliant/independent.

You should keep shifting your baby’s position frequently so that they challenge their motor skills in different ways. For instance, you can place your infant on her belly and help her reach a rattle out in front. This will strengthen your baby’s hand and stomach muscles further. Withagethey will learn to roll over their tummy and sit with the support of pillows around them. This way they will achieve another milestone of their infancy.

By the fourth month, you can start singing different rhymes like Twinkle twinkle or Pat-a-Cake or The Itsy-Bitsy Spider with your baby along with actions. This will help them to improve,e their hand coordination with sounds. You can also play Audio CDs for rhymes or light music to them. Your infant will love whatever music you will play for them. The likeness towards music will increase as your baby grows.

This is the best time to introduce Baby Books to your little ones. Make them sit on your lap and show them picture books with bright colours and high-contrast patterns. Your baby will love looking at the pictures and listening to your voice.

By the end of this phase, few kids might surprise their parents by saying simple words like ‘mama’ and ‘papa’. From here, they will start repeating words and phrases that they hear. So make your cutie pie learn words which you might want to listen first ;-)  

By now, your baby should start showing you age-appropriate growth. If not, then incorporate the above activities into their daily routine and make their growing years more enjoyable with more learning.

7-9 months

From seven to nine months, your infant will turn into an Explorer. They start handling their toys. Shaking, banging and dropping or even throwing will become their routine play.

Around 8th month, your baby might start crawling after they are able to sit properly without support. By now baby’s arm, legs and back muscles are strong enough to hold their head up and make them get up on their hands and legs. This is the time when you have to be more cautious and remove all the dangerous objects away from the reach of your baby.

Since your baby is able to sit independently, they will love to play in the water with their toys. You can introduce Bath toys to them. This is a great way to enhance their gross motor development and skills.

Often times, babies learn to crawl before they learn to sit. Different babies grow at the different pace so don't fuss if your baby is a little slow as no two babies are alike. Some might even start to enjoy standing by the end of this phase. You should encourage them by placing toys at different heights like on the table or on a chair to encourage them to reach out for their toys. You can also buy a Play or Musical Activity table (with removable legs). You should be careful about furniture like a dining table with sharp edges as they might bump into them more often now.

By the sixth month, your little explorer will try to feed themselves. This will be challenging for them and they would wedge the food in their fist. They might create a lot of mess too but you need to maintain a high level of patience. The study shows that messy kids learn faster so do not worry about the mess that they create. Also, you need to keep cleaning their hands for proper hygiene. Let them do their things on their own, as it will promote independence and allow them to practise their fine motor skills. By end of the ninth month, they will become expert in holding small things (between their thumb and fingers) and feeding themselves.

You can introduce toys like Xylophone, Piano, Stack of rings, Chain blocks, Shape blocks or any building blocks. This way their play will become more purposeful and help them refine their fine motor skills needed to complete a puzzle or build blocks themselves.

10-12 months

During this stage, your baby will master various baby activities. They also have a tendency to repeat one activity over and over again. Since they are yet to make full sentences, they will use broken words with hand signals to let you know what they want, if they want to be picked up or they want to go somewhere.

This is the right time for you to introduce Clay to your infant. Clay is soft and can be moulded in different shapes to make different characters. It is the best medium for babies to learn and explore. You just have to make sure that babies don’t take clay in their mouth as babies try to explore different things by tasting them. Even though there are safe edible clays available, you should take all the precautions when the baby is playing with the clay to prevent choking

You can also give Shape Blocks and Squeaky Toys to your infant so that they explore different toys according to their texture, colour and shapes. This will boost their cognitive ability to choose between many options. They might like one texture and keep on playing with it only. So you have to be observant to realise their choices and give them exposure to all kind of shapes and toys on the rotation basis.

In this phase, your baby will start enjoying a different kind of music and will show the willingness to dance along with you.  So encourage them by participating in their activities. You can choose from a wide range of age-appropriate Songs CDs and Storytelling CDs for your baby.

Babies at this age understand your language even though they might not be able to emulate it. You can ask your child to perform tasks that can challenge her cognitive and motor skills. Like keeping all the toys back into the toy box or drawer after playing by saying “this is wrap up time”. This way it will help infants understand the importance of completing a task before starting another task.

By the end of this phase, your baby can walk few steps comfortably with the help of a Walker or with some support. You can hold their fingers and make them take a few steps. This way they will learn to walk fast. Again, do not push your baby if she is not ready to walk yet. Give her some time or take advice from your paediatrician if you are concerned about her starting to walk late.

Conclusion

Hope these tips will help you spend a quality playtime with your infants. Try stimulating your baby's senses and provide a safe environment for exploration by making their everyday routines more playful.

It is rightly said by someone:

“A baby will make love stronger,

Days shorter, Nights longer,

Bankroll smaller, Home happier,

Clothes shabbier, Past forgotten,

And

The Future worth living for” 

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Until then, Happy Parenting!


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