Different Ways to Engage Your Infant
Congratulations! By the ripe old age of three months, your baby is no longer a newborn. Your little one can now turn his head when he hears your voice, waves his hands, and kicks his feet when he feels excited. He has mastered the much-awaited grins, gurgles, and giggles. Not to mention the infamous cry to express joy or pain. Good bye passive newborn, hello active infant!
Your buddy is now stronger, more active, and can use his body to reach, pull, and manipulate the world around him. How amazing it is to see all the creative ways they explore! These activities aren’t just a source of entertainment for our little one they are all learning experiences through which life skills are developed along with his sense of self. This is the time to usher in the new era of exploration! Sing songs with hand movements. Give him toys that shake, rattle, and roll. Get him to scream in laughter with high flying rides and tickle games that require the use of his whole body.
The reward of exploring with your baby and his body is the wonder of interaction. Seeing him enjoy it will bring a huge smile to your face, too. Bonds of love and trust are formed through early interaction and play. Spontaneity can make these interactions even more fun and rewarding, so find an opportunity at every turn! You can play peek-a-boo games during diaper change, tuck your baby in a sling while you vacuum the floor, throw in a little dance or two while you do the dishes while he watches you, and burst into song or whistle while you work can help turn a fussy infant into a giggly one.
Remember to build a relationship with your child by engaging in intimate activities that will help him master certain skills but also create a lasting and joyful bond. Here are 5 fun ways to keep our little ones—including ourselves—entertained! Who doesn’t love to see their baby smile back at them? 🙂
1. This Coo is For You!
From 3-6 months, your baby is often a social being full of the cutest coos and irresistible smiles. Although he can’t say real words yet, the adorable sounds he utters are his way of exploring the world of communication. He learns from the responses you give to these vocalizations. To help boost language by understanding what he hears and saying his own words, keep talking (and talking and talking) to your little one. Speak slowly, clearly, and simply. By responding to your baby, you are showing him that you value what he has to say and will encourage him to communicate even more. A squeal or squirm is a great way to see that he realizes you are following his body movements and are interested in what he has to say.
Keep your baby interested by repeating his own sounds back to him. When he says “ga-ga-ga,” respond excitedly with your own “ga-ga-ga.” He’ll love the attention but will also get in the habit of imitating your real words too. By encouraging your baby to mimic, you will inspire him to try even more complex word patterns which eventually will result in his attempt to say words and phrases. Titus loves being talked to. He responds with his ear-to-ear grin and starts cooing back. It never fails to make us smile. (This a great way to get your older child involved too. T loves it when M talks and sings to him.)
2. Mirror Mirror in Front of Me, Who is that Cutie that I see?
Watching his own face and interacting with his own image in the mirror increases your baby’s budding awareness of himself as a separate person. This is very amusing to him. You gotta admit, I bet you can name some adults who can look at themselves for a pretty long time! Here’s what you can do.
a) Prop a mirror against a wall, (I usually use the coffee table) and lay your baby on his tummy (instant tummy time!)
b) Point to the baby in the mirror and introduce him to himself. You can name the parts of his face as you point and touch each part. The mirror helps your learn to track, focus and explore.
It promotes upper body strength and visual stimulation. Follow his lead, he can quit if he has had enough but don’t be afraid to challenge him by going a little longer each time. Our little Titus used to dislike tummy time. We would put him in his tummy and he would fuss and fret for a while, when he realizes help isn’t on the way, he plops his head and goes to sleep! It happened every time!
So I checked out Target but they ran out of mirrors and when I finally found one (I bought two because extra is always good!) Titus realized it wasn’t the worst thing in the world to be on his belly! By the way, I got those mirrors for five bucks only! Tummy time got longer and longer and now, he has finally learned to love it. 🙂
3. Movement Motivation: Just a little out of reach
This encourages your baby to make early efforts to grab things and move his body towards something or someone he wants like a ball, a colorful toy or you! Creeping forward, rolling over, or just s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g as far as he can go will help him develop those little muscles. Be careful not to tease him. Make sure to build success into the activity. If you see him getting frustrated, move it a little closer or give him a break, sing a song or two then try again.
These were taken when he was about 2.5 months.
4. Bathtub Ballet
Make bath time fun and exciting is a great way to encourage motor skills. Sitting and splashing in the bathtub is a thrill for both my boys. With the tub filled with lukewarm water and your baby seated on a non-slip mat, encourage your little one to kick and splash and play! When he starts kicking, you can start chanting, “Kick, kick, kick!” This will encourage him to continue kicking. Kicking helps strengthen his leg and abdominal muscles which is important for crawling and then eventually walking. This activity also helps develop his confidence in water which helps when he starts swim lessons. Titus absolutely loves this! He can stay and kick in the tub for a really long time.
Kicking feet and waving hands are generally the signs that your baby is beginning to understand that he can somewhat control the movements in his body. Reinforce this by drawing attention to the major body parts for him. Place him on a bed or changing table or the floor then touch his face and say “face.” Hold his hands and make him feel your face, too. Repeat with each body part and make him feel both his own and yours. This provides tactile stimulation and helps him become aware of his body parameters. The song Tony Chestnut is a fun one to sing while pointing to each body part. Tony Chestnut knows I love you. (Toe-Knee-Chest-Nut, Nose, eye love you!) I didn’t get it the first time but now I’ve discovered what a fun song it is! Accompanying these exercises with playful interactions help build a close relationship between you and your child and sows the seeds for a healthy self-esteem, too.
Your newborn has surpassed the eat-sleep-poop routine and is now a responsive infant. Take advantage of this stage by keeping your little one engaged with these fun and simple activities. I’m sure you’ll have a blast, too! 🙂