At this stage of your child’s development, your baby is learning through his five senses. When your baby is born, his strongest senses are hearing and smell. He can recognize his mother’s voice and, soon after, his father’s. He can also distinguish various familiar sounds, recognises his mother by smell, and often won’t take a bottle from anyone who doesn’t smell like her!
His sense of touch also develops rapidly. From birth he enjoys being held and massaged, and makes rapid gains in all areas of development just by being carried and physically touched.
Vision and taste are two of the slower developing senses. Your baby has about 20/200 vision early in life, but by one year of age, he can see with 20/20 vision.
By the time your baby is three months, he can see things at greater distances. Your baby will put just about anything in his mouth—not so much for taste as for oral exploration. He learns by putting an object in his mouth and exploring it with his tongue and lips. Just by using his mouth, your baby can tell if an object is hot or cold, rough or smooth, soft or hard, big or little.
So let your baby use his mouth to learn and to drink mother’s milk or formula, and save the jars of baby food for a few more weeks.
ACTIVITIES WITH YOUR BABY
- Boat Ride
A boat ride round the house is an exciting game to play with your baby as he becomes sturdier and wants to be more mobile. This activity helps your child with balance, exploration and visual stimulation. All you need are 2 small soft blankets and your floor.
Spread your blankets, one on top of the other, on the floor and place your baby facing up, on the blankets. Grab one end and slowly pull your baby round the room. As you go, you can talk about all the things you see. You can also vary this activity by placing your baby on his tummy for a different perspective and prop his chest with a soft pillow or toy for extra leverage and comfort.
- Go Fish
Fishing is a fun activity for any age and your little one will enjoy the element of surprise as he uses his problem-solving skills to get what he wants. This is a great activity for your child to learn anticipation events, cause and effect, object permanence and problem-solving. All you need are a yard of rope, a colourful toy, masking tape and a table.
Tie one end of the rope around the toy and secure the other end to the edge of the table with a piece of tape, making sure the toy is out of sight. Hold your baby in your lap facing the table and rope and remove the tape, letting your child hold the end of the rope. Give him time to experiment with the rope and encourage him to pull it towards himself. Make sure to keep an eye on your child at all times so he doesn’t become entangled in the rope.
- Little Engine
This game is perfect when your little one can sit up with support. You need a simple cardboard box, blankets, and some rope. This activity helps with balance, head and neck control and visual tracking.
Grab the box and cut it down in height so your baby is supported but can see over the top. punch two holes in the front end of the box about halfway down and insert rope ends in there and knot them securely. Line the box with the blankets to give your child some comfort. Grab the loop of the rope and gently pull your baby round the house/yard in his little engine. You can also paint the box to look like a small train engine, plane, car or boat for added fun. Be sure to pull your child slowly so he doesn’t get a neck injury.
- Open and Close
For the first few months, your child has a reflex to grasp objects in his palm but not to let go. This activity is great for gaining further control of his grasp reflex and control of his hands. It is a great fine motor development and fine muscle control activity.
Collect a variety of small toys that fit easily in his hands. Seat him in your lap or highchair and place a small toy next to him so he has to reach a little to grasp it. Encourage him to take the toy and after a few moments, gently peel open his fingers and remove the toy. Put it back on the table and repeat.
Since your child is sure to put these toys in his mouth, make sure they are clean and with no sharp edges.
- Pony Rides
You can take your baby on pony rides as he increases his neck and head control. This activity helps with balance, head and neck control, language development and social interaction. All you need are your knees, a soft blanket and some nursery rhyme knowledge. Lay the blanket over your knee and seat your baby on it, facing you and hold his arms for support. Bounce him up and down as you say/sing a nursery rhyme.
- Kitchen Music
This is a very low prep and low cost activity. You can make music with your little one by banging on utensils from your kitchen. So open those cabinets and pull out your pots and pans and trays and have at it!
- Contrast Cards
Show your baby high contrast images to help develop his eyesight! I recommend hanging some of these up next to the changing table or as a mobile over their crib. I did this with both boys and it kept them happy during diaper changes.
- Baby Pull Ups
This is a great way for your baby to work on getting more strength in his neck and to help him learn to sit. First, you lay your baby on his back and hold onto his wrists. Then, you very slowly pull him to a sitting position. You can repeat this activity a few times.
- Fancy Footwork
Hold things up to your baby’s feet for him to kick. This is a great way to teach cause and effect.
- Super Baby
Lay on your back and bring your knees toward your chest. Place your little one, tummy-down, on your legs. Support him with your hands as he balances on your legs. This was a favourite but I always had a burp cloth on my stomach in case K spit up!
- Squish It
At this age, your child will try to pick up small objects with his chubby little fingers. A game of “squish it” is exactly what he needs to gain some independence and practice his fine motor skills. Bonus if your baby gets some of it in his mouth and gets some good nutrition. You need a bib, a high chair, ripe bananas and floor covering (optional).
This activity is quite simple. Put your child’s bib on him, and cover the floor if you want to. Place the highchair on the floor covering and put your child in the highchair. Slice up the banana in chunks and put the pieces on the high chair’s tray. Let your baby explore the properties of the banana with his hands, face, mouth, etc. You can also vary this with other soft foods like peaches, Jell-o, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, etc.
- Itsy Bitsy Spider
This activity was a favourite with both boys. It helps your baby get acquainted with his body, sensory stimulation, anticipation and social interaction. This is a very low prep activity. All you need are your baby and your fingers.
Remove your baby’s clothes (diaper optional) and lay her on your lap. Sing its bits spider to her and as you do, walk your fingers up his body from his feet all the way up to his lovely curls. Try to mimic the actions of the song.
- Playful Spotlight
This is a quiet game you can play at night, just before your baby goes to sleep, or to calm him down. All you need is a dark room and a flashlight. This activity helps with cause and effect, depth perception, visual tracking and understanding one’s environment.
Find a room that can be made completely dark. Sit on a chair or the floor with your baby in your lap. In the dark room, turn on the flashlight and shine it on the wall, catching your child’s attention. Whisper something about the light (Oh, look at the light). Move the beam around slowly, resting it on interesting objects. Keep a running commentary in whispers. The aim is to keep your child entertained but to also to interfere if he tries to fall asleep.
- Ride A Horsey
Using just your leg, a chair and a small towel, take your baby on a horsey ride without leaving your home. Remove your shoes and sit in a chair with your legs crossed. Put a towel on your ankle and sit your baby on it, facing you. Hold his hands as you gently move your legs up and down. As he rides, sing a nursery song to keep him entertained and work on his social interaction skills.
- Rain Bath
Water play provides the perfect sensory-motor stimulation, so turn bath time into a sensory experience! Using just a sieve, you can create an easy rain bath. Put your baby in his bathtub and after a few moments of splashing, hold the sieve over his head and pour some water into it. Let the water gently tickle him. Try to not get the water in your baby’s eyes.