If you are pregnanto or a new mom, you need to start thinking about how you can improve your baby’s development on a daily basis. Babies grow at an immense pace: they grow from merely being able to grasp onto an adult finger to being able to operate toys, walk, run, jump and so forth. Their motor skills and cognitive abilities improve every day, and it is your job as their parent, to motivate and help improve their abilities and development.Babies are able to grasp and hold objects from a very young age. You will need to use this as a basis to build and nurture their motor skills and cognitive abilities through basic activities and games. Even before you can start with these activities, your baby will need to have reached several milestones. Therefore, certain activities can only be used when your baby has reached a certain age, or as soon as their skills have improved to such a stage that they can handle an otherwise complex activity.
Activities to Improve your Baby’s Development
Between two and three months of age, your baby’s skills are still developing. Though they will not be able to participate in many activities, you can still stimulate their brain by playing them various kinds of music, speaking to them, make amusing sounds or generally just interacting with them through touch, sights and sounds. They are particularly interested in what’s going on around them, and sounds.Another great game to play while your baby 0 – 3 months old, is the “now you see it, now you don’t” game. This game stimulates and improves your baby’s memory. This is how it works: use a bright coloured, soft baby toy or something that catches your baby’s attention easily. Show your baby the toy, and then quickly hide it behind your back or underneath a table, excitedly asking your baby “Where is it?” Then, pop the toy back out while claiming “Here it is!”. Don’t be too excited, you might startle your baby, which will eventually deter them from playing the game.You might also want to introduce them to the sit-up game, it goes like this: Lie your baby down on a soft blanket or carpet. Hold on to your baby’s hands or wrists, count to three and then gently pull them up to a sitting position. Make it fun by counting with suspense and excitement, and counting as “One, two, three, Up!” Gently lower them back to lying position, and begin again. Keep in mind that this game can only be played once your baby has enough strength in their necks.Ages 3 – 6 months Between the ages of three and six months, games like simple Peek-A-Boo, the Memory Shell Game, Baby Cause and Effect and Flashlight Show are perfect to not only develop your baby’s skills, but also for a chance to play and interact with them.Peek-A-Boo: Peek-A-Boo improves your baby’s memory and anticipation abilities while simultaneously improving the social connection between you and your baby. Play like this: simply put your hands in front of your face and say “Where’s Mommy?” After a couple of seconds, remove your hands and excitedly say “Here’s Mommy”, or “Peek-A-Boo!”The Memory Shell Game also improves your baby’s memory and is used as more of an introductory activity to memory improvement. You will need three cups and a ball to play this game – it goes like this: make sure your baby has seen the ball in your hand, before placing it under one of the cups. Place the ball under one of the cups, and encourage your baby to touch or tap the cup it is under. Be sure to reward them with a kiss, toy, or joyous “well done” if they get it right.Ages 6 – 9 months Once your baby reaches the age of six months, they will have shown an immense improvement in their motor skills and cognitive abilities. It’s time to level-up with activities like Disappearing Toy, Baby Signs, Sink or Float, and Goody Basket.The Disappearing Toy introduces the concept of object permanence to your baby, and it also improves their memory and cognitive skills. You will need one of your baby’s favourite toys and a small sheet or handkerchief. This is how to play: Sit your baby on a carpet on a flat surface in front of you. Show your baby the toy and say “Look, it’s your toy”. Next, cover the toy with the handkerchief or sheet of paper and ask your baby where it went. Wait for a couple of seconds to see if they reach out for it. If they don’t, motivate them by giving them hints, and reward them when they do find it.Baby Signs also improves your baby’s memory and cognitive skills, but it has also been known to improve language and communications skills. Baby Signs should not be categorized as a game, but more as an activity. Flashcards, DVDs, tapes and picture or word boards are all ways of teaching your baby “baby sign language”. Some of the more important words to teach them are: “more” (when feeding them); “eat”; “bottle time” and “all done”.Sink or Float improves their problem solving skills. This game is best, and most fun, to play in the bathtub. You will need water, a couple of objects that float, and a couple of objects that sink – these objects should be big enough for your baby to pick up themselves. Play like this: with your baby observing you, place one of the objects in the water and excitedly say “Look, it floats!” Then, take one of the objects that sink, put it in the water and say “Look, it sinks!” Alternate between floating and sinking objects, and give your baby a chance to play with the items.The Goody Basket game improves their dexterity and cognitive skills. You will need a basket, plastic bowl or small box, different toys, blocks, small articles of clothing, and balls. This game is really simple but quite efficient – it is played like this: sit your baby down and present them with the goody basket, with all items already packed in the basket. Now, help your baby take out everything that is in the basket – you might need to motivate them to keep going, as they can become easily distracted by the items. Once everything is out of the basket, help them put everything back into the basket.Ages 9 – 12 months When your baby reaches nine months they will have developed further, and will be able to handle more complex activities. Tower stacking or block building games, obstacle courses, musical games and basic reading will improve your baby’s skills even more. Building blocks improve and develop your baby’s motor skills and cognitive problem solving abilities, while obstacle courses help with coordination and movement. Reading improves their cognitive, language and communication skills, while musical games improve movement and coordination.Obstacle courses are mainly built out of pillows, boxes, chairs, large toys and blocks. It is played by putting your baby at one end of the obstacle course, while you are standing at the other end. Then, you will need to motivate them to come to you – watch them navigate through the obstacle course and reward them when they do reach you. This might be a little difficult in the beginning, but it is well worth it.All of the above mentioned games are designed to develop your baby’s brain. There are various kinds of activities you can use to help your baby develop. Each of these activities focuses on a different kind of skill, like social and emotional skills. Social and emotional skills include the ability to make friends or take care of someone; showing anger; being patient; following rules; interacting with strangers, and more. The following games and activities improve your baby’s social and emotional skills:Ages 0 – 3 months: Copycat and Airplane BabyAges 3 – 6 months: Peek-A-Boo and Rhyme TimeAges 6 – 9 months: Make Believe and Magic MirrorAges 9 – 12 months: Crawl and Chase and Hand over HandYou should also encourage activities for baby which develop and improve language and vocabulary, and movement and motor skills.Ensure you cover all of the basic kinds of development to get your child learning and improving from a very young age. This forms the basis of your child’s abilities and education. You have a wonderful opportunity to stimulate a growing intelligence – don’t let it pass!