Baby development experts believe that the first year of a child’s life are a prime time for learning. “Babies’ brains are adaptable and mouldable (called brain plasticity), which means that there is a willingness and an adaptability to learn new tasks,” explains occupational therapist Jacqui Couper in her book The Precious Years: A Guide to Early Childhood Development – Birth to Three Years.
Jacqui suggests these ideas to stimulate your baby:
Fun activities for baby’s birth to 3 months
Newborn babies have much to learn, but they also need a lot of sleep.
- Let your little one lie under a tree so he can watch the shadows and shapes.
- Small babies focus better on strongly contrasting colours like black and white. A more complex pattern will also grab your little one’s attention.
- Mobiles are fun for babies, but they can only concentrate for short periods. Limit the number of toys on the mobile and use contrasting patterns.
Activities for babies from 4 to 6 months
Your little one is becoming more responsive to his surroundings and to the people he sees every day.
- Encourage your little one to reach out and interact with his image in a mirror, by pointing out his “friends”.
- Use toys with sound to attract his attention, and encourage him to follow the noise.
- Incorporate as much tummy time as possible and encourage your little one to reach for toys just out of his grasp.
Activities for babies from 6 to 9 months
Babies at this age start using their arms and legs to move from the sitting to the crawling position when they want to reach toys.
- Talk to your baby and explain what you are doing and where you are going. It might sound like you’re talking to yourself but you’d be amazed to know just how much your little one can already understand at this point.
- Place toys at the sides of your baby while he is sitting, not just in front of him. This will help to encourage his sitting balance.
- Give your little one toys with different shapes, textures and weights to play with.
Activities for babies from 9 to 12 months
From now on there is no stopping your baby from moving and exploring, so be vigilant.
- This may be challenging for small babies, but encourage your baby to look inside containers and to take small objects out and put them back.
- Make a picture-book of all the familiar people in your baby’s life. This will help to develop your baby’s memory.
- Bath time is not only fun for little ones, but is filled with learning opportunities. Babies can feel the water with their hands, catch a floating boat and pour the bath water from cups. Give your little one appropriate toys to play with during bath time.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.