It's all fun and games: Activities that will boost baby development

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Six months of baby boosting bliss

It's all fun and games: Activities that will boost baby development
There are various teachings and schools of thought designed to give your baby the help that he or she needs (Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

Hide behind the sofa and call out your baby’s name. When your baby discovers your hiding place, she will learn that you haven’t just vanished because you are out of sight. This teaches your baby about object permanence and stability.

— Jean Piaget, Psychologist

At the early stages of your baby’s life, you will want to make sure that you are doing all you can to ensure that his or her development is smooth, fun and on target. Many parents find it hard not to compare their baby’s development with others, but comparison is futile. While one baby might be standing at 10 months, another will still be crawling from one side of the room to another at 12. There are no golden rules, but there are various teachings and schools of thought designed to give your baby the help that he or she needs to develop happily. You might be a fan of baby signing, intensive sensory-stimulation programmes, or pets around the house. Either way, regular exposure to baby games which boost your baby’s development at home is always a good idea. Have fun, get creative and watch as your baby shines thanks to the baby-development activities listed below.

Bubble bottle game at 6 months

It's all fun and games: Activities that will boost baby development
Introduce your baby to colours with the Bubble Bottle game. (Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Once your baby reaches 6 months old, games and activities can start to get really creative and fun for everyone. Introduce your baby to colours and encourage dexterity in your little one with the Bubble Bottle game.

Fill a large water bottle with one-third full of water and add a few drops of washing-up liquid and a few drops of food colouring to the mix. Make sure that the bottle is securely tightened and give it to your baby. As the bottle is shaken, eye-catching coloured bubbles will appear. With a variety of bottles, you can create a range of different colours to start teaching your baby the names of those colours too.

Roller Derby game at 7 months

It's all fun and games: Activities that will boost baby development
Stimulate his or her desire to start crawling. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

At 7 months, most babies are ready to start crawling, or at least to start thinking about it, which is why the Roller Derby game is the perfect, fun activity to encourage him or her to get moving.

You can choose to buy a cylindrical toy that rolls along the floor when pushed, or you can take the homemade route. Cut the tops off of two water bottles, the same in size, about a third of the way down and then fill each bottle with colourful toys and maybe a bell that rings when touched.

Fix the bottles together by inserting one inside the other (you might have to pinch tightly as they will be the same size) and then fix with really strong tape around the seam. The beauty of making the toy at home is that you can fill it with the colours that you know your baby loves and the small toys that he or she has shown an affinity with.

Place your cylinder on the floor and show your baby how to push it along. As the cylinder moves away from your baby, he or she will be encouraged to follow it and this will naturally help to stimulate his or her desire to start crawling.

Highchair art at 8 months

It's all fun and games: Activities that will boost baby development
Turn a messy mealtime full of parent frustration into an hour of fun and learning. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Mealtimes will be very messy at the 8 month stage and until your baby learns how to control his or her pincer effectively, they will just get messier and messier. The Highchair art game will turn a messy mealtime full of parent frustration into an hour of fun and learning.

Make a variety of different purés from a number of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. Try pumpkin, avocado, tomatoes and bananas. Place little piles of these puré paints directly onto the highchair in front of your baby and let him or her swirl around the different colours until thoroughly covered and content in messy-food happiness.

Use the opportunity to teach your baby the names of the colours and feed him or her along the way. If mealtimes are going to be messy, which they are, turn the mess into fun and learning. Your baby will become familiar with colours, develop touch and coordination skills and get in touch with their artistic side all at once.

Happy bath time at 9 to 10 months

It is really important at the 9 to 10 month stage to start introducing your baby to his or her body parts. In general, recognising the self is the most difficult thing for a baby to do.

Seat your baby in a warm bath on a foam bath pad -- make sure the water level is low and make sure that you are watching them all the time -- and fill up a small water pistol with warm bathwater. It is a good idea to let your baby watch you as you fill up the water pistol. Including your baby in everything you do is the best way of helping them to develop and it is the best way of ensuring that they won’t be startled by new things.

Ask your baby, "where's your tummy?" and then point to your baby’s tummy with your finger and say, "there's your tummy!" Delicately squirt your baby’s tummy with the water pistol and say, "I'm squirting your tummy!" It is surprising just how much information your 9 month old will be able to retain from informative games like this one.

Eventually, as the weeks pass, drop the question and answer part to the game and just squirt each body part, saying, "I'm squirting your arm!" or "I'm squirting your foot!" for example. Your baby will giggle and react with delight, turning bath time into half an hour of fun and learning.

Jumping on the bed at 11 months is allowed

It's all fun and games: Activities that will boost baby development
My Little Trampoline will strengthen the muscles in your baby’s lower body. (BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

My Little Trampoline is the bed-jumping game that all parents must allow. When your little one has reached 11 months, the need to get up and walk will be imminent.

My Little Trampoline will strengthen the muscles in your baby’s lower body and eventually give them the resources they need to walk. Carefully support your baby by placing your hands on both sides of his or her body and let him or her bounce up and down happily.

Whenever your baby begins to walk, support him or her by holding hands during this game. This shift will mean that your baby’s muscles strengthen even further as time goes on. Sitting your baby on the bed with his or her legs stretched out while you gently bounce the bed with your hands is another version of this game that your baby will enjoy and benefit from.

Remember... never leave a baby unattended on a bed at any time for safety reasons.

12 Months... Happy Birthday!

It's all fun and games: Activities that will boost baby development
Unwrapping birthday gifts also strengthens hand-eye coordination. (James Woodson/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Your baby’s first birthday will be an exciting celebration for all close family and friends, but don’t underestimate the enjoyment that your baby can have from opening up the presents. Babies love unwrapping things. The intrigue about what lurks inside feeds your baby’s sense of discovery.

Unwrapping birthday gifts also strengthens hand-to-eye coordination. Give your baby presents that can be unwrapped easily. Ask your family and friends to wrap their presents lightly and to avoid sticking anything down.

Take the birthday present idea to another level and begin to wrap up a wide range of things. At bath time, wrap up some of your baby’s favourite toys in a wet flannel. At mealtimes, wrap up your baby’s food in some kitchen roll and turn the process of feeding into a discovery game too.

As your child grows, wrapping presents to give to you and to others will be second nature thanks to receiving “presents” from you on a daily basis. This desire to wrap up presents will encourage your child to be more generous with others, which is a wonderful quality to start focusing on in the early stages of life.

Tips and warnings

  • 1. Avoid comparing your baby’s development with other babies of the same age. 2. Familiarity is key, so make sure that you incorporate these activities into your baby’s regular routine. 3. Be creative and use the ideas in this article as a springboard for even more baby development activities of your own.

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