If your baby hasn't started crawling yet, it won't be long before she does. Typically crawling occurs between seven and 10 months. Her ability to grasp is becoming more developed and she is now likely moving things from one hand to the other. Soon she will be able to catch herself with her arms and legs if she starts to topple over while sitting. Making creative and imaginary play part of your day together helps improve your baby’s physical abilities and brain development.
Every baby is unique and develops at her own pace. Wait for your baby to show you that she has the strength and developmental skills for the games you choose to play. Here are five fun activities to get you started…
1. What? Let’s get cooking
2. How? Let your little one play chef with wooden spoons, plastic bowls, and other non-sharp items from the kitchen.
3. Why? Your baby loves exploring new objects, using both hands to examine them. Her grasp is becoming more developed, so she’ll enjoy picking up and playing with things that are different shapes and sizes. It’s also never too early to introduce your child to the principles of healthy eating. As she gets older, you can add in role-play games where you ‘cook’ meals together.
1. What? Stack ’em up
2. How? Encourage your baby to stack building blocks on top of each other to make a tower. She’ll probably enjoy knocking them down as much as stacking them up! Any lightweight objects that can be placed on top of each other will work—wooden blocks, plastic rings, empty yogurt pots, or plastic cups.
3. Why? Stacking games help develop your baby’s fine and gross motor skills, as well as improving her hand-eye coordination. She’ll also learn about cause and effect when the tower comes tumbling down!
1. What? Shake, rattle, and bang
2. How? Put some music on and see your little one start to sway and move to the rhythm. Encourage her to shake or drum to the beat—dried rice in a bottle makes a great shaker, or you could use the spoons and bowls you played with in the kitchen as a drum kit. Anything she can rattle, bang, or makes a noise is an instrument!
3. Why? Dancing, moving, and making musical sounds together are great ways for you and your baby to be creative and to have fun. At this age, she loves moving around, bouncing up and down, and rocking back and forth. Musical playtime can also help boost your baby’s speech development as she’ll learn to recognize and respond to changes in rhythm—a skill that, if learned early, can have long-lasting effects.
1. What? Adventure playground
2. How? When your baby has the skills to crawl, use cushions and blankets to make ‘hills’ and tunnels to crawl over, under, and around.
3. Why? This game will help your baby practice her movement in an enjoyable way. It’ll also help her develop her balance, strength, and problem-solving skills.
1. What? Cruise control
2. How? Push a sofa against a wall, preferably in a room with soft floor or carpet. Help your baby to stand at one end and then encourage her to make her way along to the other end. If she seems reluctant to do this, try just holding her hands and encouraging her to take a few steps. Or try again in a couple of weeks.
3. Why? Once your baby has mastered the art of crawling, it won’t be long before she begins to pull herself up to a standing position and starts cruising. Practicing this skill will help build her confidence and the muscle strength needed for eventually learning to walk.
Shelov SP & Altmann TR (Eds.). (2009). American Academy of Pediatrics. The complete and authoritative guide Caring for your baby and young child birth to age 5 (5th ed.). USA: Bantam Books.
Zhao TC, Kuhl PK. Musical intervention enhances infants’ neural processing of temporal structure in music and speech. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2016; 113(19); 5212-7.