Babies are such delightful and mysterious creatures. One day your baby is lying on his or her back and a few minutes later baby is two feet away on his or her tummy. The first activities we do with our babies are hold them, touch them, look into their eyes and talk to them like we have known them forever. Your love and attention helps your baby adjust to his or her new environment. Each stage of development is crucial and the role parents and caretakers play is so important.
Birth to 3 months. Babies that are held a lot, talked and sang to, and just well nurtured and loved tend to have higher IQs. There are studies that indicate that babies who get plenty to eat and have a good amount of body fat have higher IQs as well. By the time your baby is 3 months old you can tell when your baby is hungry, tired or in pain by his or her cry. Crying is the main form of vocal communication.
Cooing and making other noises is also a way to communicate, respond to your baby's first communication. You can coo back or say "hi." Your baby will start playing this game with you if you encourage him or her by repeating the game. The more you play the same game with you baby, the more complex the games will become. It's okay if you get blank stares in the beginning, just keep on talking and playing with your baby.
This is a great time rock your baby and read an illustrated book. Start by reading just one page.
Also, simple finger plays and songs are a great activity. Hold your baby's hands or feet when singing finger plays and do easy movements.
Here are some things my 3 month old babies loved to do.
During bath time babies love to kick their legs. I hold them securely in the water and say "kick, kick, kick when they start to kick. This activity helps later with swimming lessons.
When bathing baby make sure the room is nice and warm like the bath water. Most babies cry when there is a big difference between the bath water and room temperature.
Count your babies fingers and toes when dressing them. Touch lightly each toe or finger you count.
Make a nest in every room. One nest can be in a strong box with a soft blanket. Put safe toys around to look and grab at. Each nest can have different colored and textured blankets to sit on. Put different safe items to hold or look at. Pull down the shade and let your baby look at shadows. Make sure you make a nest for your baby in a safe place in the kitchen, their sense of smell is very acute.
Take a walk around the house. Babies love to look at paintings on the wall, the more vivid and bright, the better. Hold baby close enough to see the painting, babies are nearsighted.
Take your happy baby to a family friendly art gallery to look at paintings. They'll love it!
Here are some baby toys you can make!
At 4 months eye hand coordination starts to develop. At first your baby will swipe at an object, but will eventually be able to grab an object. Soft, textured objects are a great tactile experience.
His or her reflexive grasp will also start to disappear at this stage.
You can start letting your baby grab different shaped and colored objects. Let your child grasp and hold as many safe objects as much as possible.
At six months to seven months your baby can hold up his or her head and look around quite well. They sit on your lap with a little support. This is a great time to play with your observant and captive audience. Gently hold baby's hands and say, "Pat a cake, pat a cake bakers man, bake me a cake as fast as you can."
Here's another activity. You touch near baby's eye and say eye or the fingerplay, eye blinker, nose smeller (point to nose) mouth taster (point to mouth), chin chopper, chin (gently tickle under the chin)! Smile and softly laugh.
Peek A Boo Puppet Play
Take a puppet, cover it's eyes and vary your voice and say, Peek a boo.
Here is an example of a stuffed toy lamb (free to sew, knit or crochet) that you can do a dramatic play with your baby. Say a fun "baa" sound for the lamb. "Mary had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow, (hold up the lamb and say "baa") and everywhere that Mary went the lamb (hold up the lamb and say "baa") was sure to go. You will get a few good laughs from your self and baby too. Here are some more fingerplays.
Babies love to chew and taste their toys. This was my baby's favorite toy to hold and chew. You can take it anywhere for the occasional chewing party. Also, babies love textures, even blankets with different textured squares will help with tactile development.
Later on you can use the toes and fingers to count, 1,2,3!
Babies at 6 to 9 months are really listening to you and are much more attentive when you sing or read to them. It's fun to start using musical instruments during your play time with them. Hit the high note and sing baby's name, hit the low note and sing baby's name. You definitely will get a smile.
Make up stories using your baby's name and family members and friends, you can use objects to help illustrate the story. Your baby can handle the objects while you tell your story. At this age babies love to dump out containers of toys. While sitting in a high chair they will play "Pick Up What I Have Dropped Game" or "Hmm, gravity does exists." Older babies love to crawl behind you after you tidy up the toys and dump everything out again! It is a process of learning (many parts equal the whole, gravity, noise makers etc.). It's easier to take out a puzzle, but much more difficult to put it together. Eventually, your baby will be able to put things back together. Also, babies love to stack things at this age, here are are soft, stackable blocks you can even make with material squares and stuffing. My baby's favorite toy at this age was a toy phone. Yes, I do spend a bit of time on the phone! This is a fun language game to play at this stage.
9 to 11 month old babies love to play simple games, such as you rolling a ball to them. I love this ball because your baby can really grab onto it. First puzzles that develop small motor skills are great for prewriting skills. Also, they also help a child observe the differences in shapes and sizes which indirectly prepares your baby for reading and math.
By 12 months your baby will be able to grasp a variety of different sized objects with eye-guided and purposeful reaching. Here are some toys that satisfy this phase of development, a learning farm play set.
A walking baby loves pull along toys and to push toys. Also movement and music are a great activity for 12 month old babies. Any percussion instrument or toy helps rhythm, coordination, and instills a love for music. Always continue to play with your baby, sing songs, read, do finger plays, and most of all take time for these precious moments.
Boxes and Pots are a favorite toy too- or will I fit into this? Your child will squeeze into anything around the house. It's a great way to learn about size. Is this box big enough for me to fit in? How about this pot? The game goes on endlessly. Even toys are fair game!
More information that is helpful!
Montessori and Teaching Baby to Think
Montessori Baby Environment
Baby's Temperament Quiz
Montessori Baby Book
Infants Have Keen Memory for Learning Words
Montessori Baby Beds