Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Tiny Baby Play

Tiny Baby Play

I have been asked about activities for very little babies. 
For me it has always been about giving Hartley as many experiences as possible even from an early age. Before 6 months he had hardly had any toys but I made sure we did something everyday, either at home or venturing out. Here are a few of the things we did;

Baby Massage
I started baby massage with Hartley when he was a few weeks old. Going to a group is a good way of meeting people and it is an excellent way to bond with your baby. Hartley still enjoys a calming massage now. 

Rainbow Scarves
 Using scarves on a baby is a great sensory experience. This can be incorporated into a baby massage session. Gently touch the baby all over with the scarf. Make sure you talk to your baby whilst doing this.
As babies get older they love peekaboo games with the scarf.
Rainbow Scarves

Babies loves balls. Hartlley was fascinated with a rolling ball from when he was a few months old. By the time he was sitting up he had learnt how to roll a ball himself.  Playing with balls encourages hand eye coordination and motor skills as well as social skills.

Stories and rhymes
I started reading to Hartley when he was a few days old. You could tell that he knew this was different from the usual way I spoke to him. You do not have to read children's books it could be anything even a magazine. We joined the library when Hartley was a few weeks old so we could share books together. He especially liked the touchy feely books. 
Young babies also love rhymes and songs, even if you do not know many make them up, they will like the rhythm and tone of your voice. Incorporate actions into rhymes too.

Bubble Play
 I have always thought bubbles should be in every parents going out bag. They entertain all ages including even the smallest of babies.

Mirror Play
 Babies are fascinated with mirrors. Although they will not understand that they are looking at themselves they will enjoy looking at the baby in the mirror. They may start to touch or wave at the baby. They will also start to recognise other people in the mirror.

Treasure Baskets
Even the smallest of babies can investigate simple objects with their parents. 
See the link Treasure Baskets

Sensory Bottles
An ordinary plastic bottle can be turned into a exciting sensory bottle in seconds. These can be used with babies of all ages. They are also a nice way for babies to explore items that
might be unsafe to handle by themselves. In the past we have made the following sensory bottles;
glitter with water
sequins with and without water
different coloured straws with and without water
coloured water using food colours
Pipe Cleaners
Pom Poms
conkers, acorns and fir cones
 Hartley playing with his sensory bottles with straws and water in
 When I was making the sensory bottle I cut up some coloured straws before I could put them into the bottle Hartley had grabbed the bottle and started putting the small straws into the bottle himself. Sometimes babies really do amaze me!
You really can use anything, make ones that also make noise when you shake for an even better sensory experience.

Sensory Rail/ sensory baby gym
Another way to encourage sensory play for small babies is to hang different objects from a rail or a baby gym. These objects could include c.ds, spoons, different materials. Young babies will love looking at the objects from underneath whilst older babies can investigate the objects.

Messy Play
I believe messy, sensory play can be done with babies of all ages.
See my link below

Exploring outside
This might seem obvious but there is so much for a baby to explore outside no matter what the season. In spring and summer let your baby lie on a rug or even on the grass, let them feel the grass on their hands and feet. In the autumn Hartley was fascinate by the leaves falling from the trees. In the winter I let Hartley sit in the snow, touch it with his hands. When babies are able to crawl let them crawl on grass and mud and let them explore and investigate!

 We started taking Hartley swimming at about 12 weeks old but actually NHS advice is that you can take them anytime after their 6 week check up. We always loved taking him swimming as it was a family activity we could all do. We got Hartley a wrap around wetsuit so he didn't get cold. In the summer have a paddling pool in the garden so your baby can splash and explore the water.

I took Hartley to an aquarium for the first time when he was about 3 months old. You might think a little baby wouldn't get anything out of going to an aquarium, however he loved watching the movement of the fishes and was totally fascinated.

We also took him to the zoo when he was about 5 months old again he loved watching the animals especially the monkeys and penguins which he could get close to. The zoo is a total sensory experience with different smells, sounds and sights.

You might not think a young baby needs to go to a playground, however I have been taking Hartley since he was a few months old.  To start with we sat on the swing together and watched other children which fascinated him. I was the crazy mum letting her 4 month old play in the sand pit, but he loved how it felt on his toes. When he could sit, I let him sit on the roundabout and sit in the baby swings which he loved. I would also usually take a ball so we could roll it to each other.

What you have to remember is things that seem ordinary to us are simply amazing to a baby. They are experiencing everything for the first time and it is magical to see the world through their eyes.

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