The increasing mobility and growing curiosity of 6- to
12-month-old babies make this a magical time. While this means
baby-proofing the home and preparing for stranger anxiety, it also
means you and baby can enjoy lots of interactive play.
We talked with Marsha Baker, an occupational therapist and
infant specialist at the Center for Children and Families at
Erikson Institute, about simple games to help your infant develop.
We also got some pointers from Sonja Coster, vice president of
Child Care Services for the McGaw YMCA in Evanston and a few games
Though we've broken down activities based on age, three
activities are essential for cognitive, physical and emotional
development. First, talk with your baby - share nursery rhymes and
sing simple songs. Second, read to your baby every day. Third, make
sure babies have plenty of time to move freely on the floor.
Babies are truly in love with their parents and caregivers, but
need them to initiate play. Try Peek-a-boo, This Little Piggy or
any rhyme with gentle touches to the body. Here's one to try while
holding baby in front of a mirror. Sung to the tune of "Here we go
'round the mulberry bush":
This is what I call my head,
Call my head, call my head
This is what I call my head
Listen, look and see.
Now I know the parts of me,
Parts of me, parts of me.
Now I know the parts of me,
Listen, look and see
Babies love to grab and let go of objects. Fill a box with items
of different textures - bumpy, soft, crinkly - that can be safely
put in the mouth, too.
Use two pretend phones to have conversations with baby, speaking
for a bit before pausing to wait for baby's 'response.' This
teaches them turn-taking and sequencing.
Babies start to take the initiative, using their bodies and
faces to show they're ready to play. They'll also get more
interested in playing with objects, rather than just touching them.
Play together with crinkly or shredded paper or bang on pots and
Babies are gaining control of their bodies and you can help with
games like Pat-a-cake and So Big. Another idea:
I have 10 fingers (hold up both hands, fingers spread)
And they all belong to me (point to self)
I can make them do things
Would you like to see?
I can shut them up tight (make fists)
I can open them wide (open hands)
I can put them together (place palms together)
I can make them all hide (put hands behind back)
I can make them jump high (hands over head)
I can make them jump low (touch floor)
I can fold them up quietly (fold hands in lap)
And hold them just so
Babies are beginning to understand object permanence. Hide
objects (though not very well) under a blanket or napkin. Or,
create soft obstacles like pillows between baby and a prized
possession so they crawl toward it.
Babies become increasingly interested in objects, but still need
emotional reassurance from their loved ones. Peek-a-boo can take on
a more dramatic tone, if baby seems ready, by having the parent
hide behind a pillow or a nearby wall. Use puppets-either homemade
or store bought-to sing songs, tell stories and explore
Babies begin to put two objects together purposefully. Show baby
how to drop things into containers, then let her try. Let her play
a xylophone using different tools as drumsticks. Use everyday
objects together, such as brushing hair, throwing a ball or
stirring with a spoon.
One more playful rhyme:
Round and round the garden went the Teddy bear
One step, two steps, tickle him under there!
Lisa Applegate is a Chicago mom and freelance
Lisa Applegate is a freelance writer and mom of one living in Chicago.
See more of Lisa's stories here.
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