Learning and Play: Developing Baby Skills
Have fun while helping your baby learn these four important skills.For your baby, playtime is work time. While it'll be several years before she starts bringing home a paycheck, she does have a challenging job right now: She's determined to learn new skills every day — and you're her ever-handy assistant, ready to provide the tools of the trade (as well as plenty of encouragement) at a moment's notice. At seven months, here are the four tasks she may be working on, if not right now than in the weeks ahead, and how you can help her master them:
- Sitting (between four and nine months). Prop her up (in the stroller or on the floor with a nursing pillow behind her) so she gets practice in this position. Show her that this new perspective on the world can be thrilling — there's lots to see, and her hands are free to clap, grab blocks and bang them together, and so many more cool moves.
- Busy hands (passing objects from one hand to another, clapping, waving; from five to 12 months). Play lots of show and tell, giving her opportunities to watch you move your own hands. Hold her little fists and fingers and help them through the motions of patty-cake and other fingerplay games. Offer blocks of all shapes and textures for her to explore.
- Crawling (between six and 12 months). Make sure she has plenty of tummy time, so she can practice pushing up and strengthening her arm muscles. Tempt her with toys just out of reach — or use your own smiling face to encourage her to make a move. Do keep in mind, though, that not all babies crawl — some scoot, bear walk, or "swim," while others skip it altogether and go right to cruising. So, if you haven't yet childproofed your home, now's the time — your once-stationary infant will turn into a perpetual motion machine almost overnight.
- Pulling up to standing; cruising (seven to 15 months). First, ready your baby's environment for this milestone. Make sure any furniture she might try to hang onto is stable and free of sharp corners and edges (pad them if necessary). Keep her barefoot or in nonskid socks so she won't slide on slippery floors. Once you've prepped her play areas, try placing a favorite toy on a sturdy table where she'll need to stand to get it. You can also help her by placing her on your lap to stand, which builds muscles and confidence.
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