We learned via an article by Active for Life that movement and exercise for babies is rarely ever mentioned in baby books. We tend to forget that the more engagement and movement babies experience during the day, the better the sleep. Just like adults, babies need to be active in order to be healthy and learn important movement skills.
Babies are born with different abilities and each their own developmental stages. Remember, these are just suggestions to help enhance your baby’s movement skills and please do the activities that make your baby the happiest!
Active for Life shared these skills you can be helping your infant work on at various developmental stages during their first year:
- 0-3 months
During these months, your baby will be sleeping and eating for most of its time. Therefore, your baby’s activity will be the least during these months, but Active for Life shares these ideas:
The article stated it is important to add a variety of posture during this age. They stated, “this can be as simple as holding them in different positions, using different chairs for them to sit in, and trying to introduce tummy time as soon as they have enough control over their neck muscles to hold up their head.” They suggest a play mat where your baby can spend time lying on their back looking at the you above. Pretty soon they will reach out their hands to grab these toys!
Reach and Grab
Babies love to grab and reach for objects close to them. Encourage this motor movement skill by giving your baby different kinds of shapes and textures to hold on to.
Massage helps simulate your baby’s neuromuscular system and you have to opportunity to have some parent and baby time. The article suggests that if you are unsure of massage techniques for infants you should research online for tips or take a class. Community Well offers two infant massage classes a week, one conducted in English and the other in Spanish. Drop-in and learn infant massage tips from our teachers!
Encourage kicking and splashing as much as possible while bathing your baby. Always supervise your baby during bath time and while they are engaging in splashing.
- 4-6 Months
Your baby will spend more time awake during these months and that means for time for activities!
Rolling is another important movement skill for babies to learn. The article suggests that a play mat is a good place for you to observe your baby practicing this skill. Do not force a movement your baby doesn’t want to do. Instead, place objects around them that they may be interested in.
Your child will start crawling at this stage. Place play tunnels and toys far apart from each other to encourage crawling. The article states, “The most important thing to think about is to provide your child with some designated time each day to simply be down on the floor playing and exploring.” By designating some playtime before your baby’s nap, you will find that your baby sleeps much quicker and for a longer time.
- 7-9 months
Moving Objects from Hand to Hand
Your baby will make more coordinated movements during this state. Encourage your baby to use their non-dominant hand and pass toys from one hand to the one. The article also suggests a mirror activity for this stage. You can sit in front of them and have them mirror or follow your movements.
Move to Music
The article states that moving to music helps babies “develop a sense of rhythm with their movements.” Dance with your baby and encourage them to push with their feet to develop a better balance in their legs.
The article states, “The pincer grasp is often mastered during this time period and this is also a very important aspect of their fine motor control development.” Take a bottom drawer or cupboard and fill it with safe cups, bowls and utensils. Your baby will like to crawl into your kitchen and this can be “their” cupboard to play with. It will also keep them occupied while you are cooking a meal.
- 10-12 months
Practice Moving on Stairs
You are probably scared to let your baby play on the stairs, many parents feel the same. However, the articles states that the staircase is a great way to give your baby some movement time. They suggest to, “take time with your baby to allow her to crawl up the stairs at her own pace. Show her how to turn around at the top and come down feet first. When you are back at the bottom, toss a toy up to the top and have her go after it.”
Proper, flexible footwear
The article reminds us that “footwear is important for when you are outside…look for footwear that soft and flexible.” Give your baby as much time as possible to walk and play because this will help them develop their intrinsic foot muscles.
These are excellent suggestions made by Active for Life. To learn more, drop-in to our Developmental Movement for Babies class every Friday. Come dance, move, sing, learn, explore, and play with your little one. All classes include a warm up, BrainDance, sensory exploration, dance concepts, folk dance, instruments and discussion of appropriate physical, emotional, and neurological development.
Bring your baby every Friday and let’s start moving!