BABY PLAY WITH NESTING OBJECTS
The motor skill of nesting or stacking objects, such as cups, can be developed through baby play with simple household objects as well as baby toys. Nesting refers to objects that fit one inside of the other. For example, measuring cups in your kitchen are nested on inside of the other so they fit tightly in one stack. However, they have to be placed in the stack in an orderly manner from the smallest size on top to the largest size on the bottom. Play with a stack of cups may be easier for a baby because they can be stacked without the additional skill of determining the order by the object size. Although the skill of nesting objects usually emerges after babies turn one year old and are technically “toddlers,” they will enjoy the “unstacking” part of the skill before they reach their first birthday. Try adding some stacking bath toys to bath time. The skill of nesting demands coordination as they use one hand to hold one object steady while the other hand places another object on top of or inside of the object they are holding.
KITCHEN OBJECTS FOR BABY PLAY
Babies can play for long periods of time with kitchen items. A set of nested measuring cups (with the connecting ring removed for safety) or a set of nested mixing bowls are great for baby play. In the above video from MaryAnn MamaSmilesblog’s youtube channel, a baby explores how many plastic cups could fit tightly together, one inside of the next. She also discovers how many pieces (cups) are in the stack of cups by separating each cup out of the stack or nest. At the end of the video she picks up the entire stack as one piece. Through her play she has explored how one “object” can become many separate pieces. She also explores how the relationship between these pieces changes. This stack of plastic cups is an inexpensive toy that provides excellent play and exploration. Always supervise baby play because plastic cups can break, exposing sharp corners.
HOW TO TEACH BABY MOTOR BOATING
Motor boating, also known as blowing raspberries, is a very playful and developmental activity for babies. The funny sound intrigues their curiosity and they are inclined to try and imitate you. Motor boating gives a strong sensation to their lips, enhancing awareness and facilitating speech development. For speech development, babies benefit from activities which increase their ability to move their lips and tongue. You can help baby learn to create this sound by repeating it a few times with your face close enough to baby’s so she can clearly see how you are moving your lips to make the sound. Do not be surprised if she wants to reach out and touch your lips as you make that sound. Let her feel what you are doing. You can also make the sound on the back of her hand to give her yet another sensation of the sound and movement.
Watch the baby in the above video from Jen McBrayer’s youtube channel. She makes a very clear motor boating sound and confidently can repeat it over and over again This shows that she has developed the skill very well. In our Stellar Caterpillar classes we guide babies through motor skill development so they develop their skills in such a way that they can repeat them confidently and whenever they desire. This is different from a skill that happens occasionally or is just half-way developed. As your baby begins to make the motor boating sound, repeat it back to her. This is called mirroring. As you mirror what she does it helps her to be clearer herself about what she is doing. Babies learn this skill at various ages. Some babies learn to motor boat quite young and others learn it a bit older. What is common is that they really enjoy it once they learn it!
The mother in the above video is also demonstrating a method of feeding baby so she does not throw food on the floor. She puts just enough in front of her for one bite. After she eats that bite her mother puts another bite in front of her. They continue this pattern of eating until baby is finished eating. Baby continues entertaining herself by motor boating in between bites.
BABY GAMES: ZIP THE ZIPPER
For babies who have learned to use their pincer grasp, a fun game for them is to learn to pull a zipper. The development of the pincer grasp is strengthened when baby needs to hold an item, such as a zipper pull, between her thumb and first finger as she moves it. A zipper on a purse, a wallet, a cosmetic bag, or your jacket are fun for her to learn to manipulate. Try holding the ends of the zipper for her at first, so she can pull the zipper and learn how it works. Soon, on a smaller item such as a cosmetic bag or wallet, she can hold the item steady with one hand while unzipping the zipper with her other hand. She may even need you to show her how to hold the zipper pull with her thumb and first index finger (pincer grasp). Look closely at her hand to observe how she is developing her fine motor skills.
Always closely supervise baby as she opens a purse or wallet that may contain items that are not baby-proof, such as coins, paperclips, pens, and other small or sharp objects. You may want to find a purse and place interesting and baby-proofed items inside for her to discover when she successfully unzips the purse. She will enjoy the process of discovering the same items are in the bag each time she opens it. Another dimension of fun for speech development is added if you say “ZIP-ZIP-ZIP” or “ZIP-PER” each time you move the zipper pull to open or close the zipper. They are intrigued by the sound of the word and will watch you say it each time.
Tummy Time for two
MOTOR SKILLS & SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT IN INFANTS
Mastering the baby milestone of tummy time provides baby with a comfortable way to spend time interacting with her friends. The skill of lifting the head during tummy time develops strength in the neck muscles which soon allow baby to keep her head upright for a very long time. She learns to enjoy baby play time on her tummy after developing this strength in her neck and back. She has use of her arms and hands to manipulate toys and can turn her head to see what is happening around her. She can watch her friends and her mother from this position. She is on eye level with a friend if she is also on her tummy, as the girls are in the above photo. Tummy time is no longer a tedious exercise, it is an enjoyable activity for engaging with the world around baby. The strength and stability attained through strengthening muscles gives baby the freedom to move around. When baby hates tummy time, try placing them near another baby so they see a friend when they lift their head. Soon you will see a social smile.
TUMMY TIME VS. BABY SITTING UP
Observe the babies in the photo above ages 5 1/2 and 7 months. If these babies were placed in a sitting position, which they are not ready for quite yet, they would be limited in their ability to look around. Often, when babies are put into the sitting position too soon they curl backward a bit into a slouch. This pulls them off of their pelvis enough so they do not feet stable enough to fully use their arms. The slouched position also makes it difficult to fully rotate the head and look upward. In fact, trying to look around may cause them to tip over because of the weight of the head moving on an unstable pelvis. The lack of stability in sitting makes it especially difficult to engage both the focus and the hands at the same time. If the babies did not get themselves into the sitting position they would not be able to get themselves out of it either. The baby girls in the above photo have learned to roll so they are free to move in and out of this position of communication with each when they want.
LEARNING THE MOTOR SKILL OF SITTING
The seven month old baby in the photo above will soon learn how to bring herself to a sitting position since she has developed the muscle strength for stability and excellent posture. She has mastered the motor milestones of rolling, tummy time, and lifting the head. Although there are several ways baby can learn to sit, many patterns of sitting occur through a fluid movement that combines rolling and pushing with the hands. When baby learns to bring herself to sitting she has strengthened and coordinated all of the parts that need to stabilize her body so she can use her hands to play with toys and move her head to socialize with mom and friends. A baby sitting up is more free to engage with toys and people because this posture frees the arms and hands and allows even more movement of the head.
How do babies learn to talk? Babies learn speech through imitation of the sounds and words they hear from their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, siblings, and nannies. First they learn syllables such as “Ma” or “Ba.” Soon they learn the entire word, i.e., “Ball.” First words often include “Ball, Doll, Block, Book, Dog, Cat, ” and of course “Mama” and “DaDa.” It will be much easier for them to learn the ABCs later if they know the “ABC Song.” Although they usually do not learn their ABCs until they are toddlers, it is great to familiarize them with the rhythm of the tune from early on. It is also an easy song for a new mom to learn who does not remember or know many baby songs. If you know your ABCs you can quickly learn the tune and sing it to baby. Practice the song in the above video from Hooplakidz youtube channel.
WORDS TO THE ABC SONG
W-X-Y AND Z
Now I know my ABCs,
Next time won’t you sing with me?
LEARNING THROUGH BABY SONGS
Remember that babies are very curious about how you make those mysterious sounds that come out of your mouth. They want to know how to do it and they want to try it. They want to learn to sing and speak as you do. If you move your face close to baby’s face as you sing (about 8 inches away), she can watch your mouth move and make the shapes of the sounds and words. Sometimes baby will try and imitate you, even at a very young age. It helps if you exaggerate the words so they can watch your mouth change shapes. Try practicing this in front of a mirror. If you are a shy and soft spoken person this will feel silly, but your baby will enjoy this game. Sometimes baby will reach her hands up to your mouth and try and reach inside to find out “What is going on in there?” Allow her to touch your moving lips as you sing. She will learn a lot from this exploration. Choose a favorite song to sing often and baby will become familiar with the rhythm and sounds of the words.
TIPS FOR SINGING SONGS TO BABIES
- Exaggerate the words
- Practice Singing in Front of a Mirror
- Choose to Sing Favorite Song Frequently
- Allow Baby to Touch Your Mouth as You Sing
Question from a mother in class:
My 3 1/2 month old baby is getting more used to tummy time, but she still does not love it. Do you have any ideas?
Stellar Caterpillar answers:
Try baby’s tummy time in different locations in your home so she has different environments to stimulate her vision. Sometimes place her facing a big window such as a sliding glass door. This is wonderful because at this age babies see light very well. If you have a pet you might place them where they can see the pet moving since babies also see movement very well. I highly recommend to all mothers to get down on your tummy in front of your baby so that when she lifts her head she can see your face. The different environments to stimulate her curiosity through the sense of sight which will motivate her to keep her head up a bit longer.
One week later, the mother returned to class and said “Changing the environment definitely helped. She seems to stay with her head up a bit longer and is enjoying it.” (Some tummy time solutions may be more simple than you think.) Even if baby is enjoying her tummy time you it can be interesting to place her so she has changes of scenery when she lifts her head. The motor skill of lifting the head is one of the earliest skills baby develops. When she is intrigued by the fact that when she lifts her head she can see something interesting or someone she knows, she will want to keep her head up longer. The action of lifting her head strengthens her neck and back muscles and prepares her for many motor skills down the road. It is worth the effort to try and get baby to the point that she not only tolerates tummy time, but she enjoys it!