Pedal her legs. When Baby is 3 months, lay her on her back, hold her ankles, gently bend her knees into her stomach, and then stretch them out. Make it more fun by saying "in" and "out," singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," and kissing her feet.
Get grabby. Starting at 3 months, put your baby on her back and dangle a toy above her to see if she can grasp it. Move it higher, lower, and to the side. Try toys of varying shapes so she can learn to form her hand into the best position for grabbing.
Lift off. Help your 6-month-old into a sitting position and place a toy near him so he can reach for it and pick it up. Move it around so he shifts and reaches to each side to get it. Use a variety of toys so he can practice holding various shapes and weights.
Go the course. When your baby starts crawling, generally around 8 months, block his path with a cushion. If he scoots around it, set up a row of pillows. Moving on his hands and knees helps your baby strengthen his hips and trunk and shoulder muscles.
- Babies who play with blocks better develop their fine-motor and language skills. One reason is the conversations that occur as you and Baby stack.
- Simple playthings, like sorters and stuffed animals, help your baby experiment better than toys that light up and play music.
- Tummy time is a must! Your baby should hang out on her belly a few times a day when she's awake to practice holding her head up and getting up on her elbows.
- Be sure toys are safe for Baby. If they fit through a toilet paper roll, they're a choking hazard.
Originally published in the December 2013 issue of American Baby magazine.