Instant Infant Fun!

       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!

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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? 🙂

IMG_22181. 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.)

cooing with grandpa!

Grandpa and Titus enjoying a fun conversation! 

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.

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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! 

He tends to do this...haha

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. 🙂

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I SEE ME!

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.

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These were taken when he was about 2.5 months. 

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These were taken when he was about 4.5 months. He got the concept pretty quick! He even pulls   on the blanket so Sophie gets closer. Good problem solving skills there bud! 

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.  

5. Toe-Knee-Chest-Nut

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.

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Micah loves doing this with Titus.

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Micah likes blowing on his tummy while singing songs with him.

IMG_4370 Fun moments with daddy!

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! 🙂 

titus

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Fine Motor Skill Activities that Your Kids Will Enjoy

Fine Motor Skill Activities that Your Kids Will Enjoy

Almost every parent feels the pressure to make their children write right now. But teaching your child how to write isn’t as easy as putting a pencil in his hand and showing him the alphabet. Children greatly benefit from experiences that support the development of fine motor skills in their hands and fingers.

They should have strength and dexterity before being asked to manipulate a pencil on paper. Working on this first can eliminate the development of an inappropriate pencil grasp. This happens when children get engaged in writing experiences before their hands are really ready. The following activities involve the use of practical life materials that will support your child’s fine motor development and help build the strength and dexterity necessary to hold a pencil appropriately in the future.

All these items can be found either at home or purchase from the dollar store or at Ikea. They have child-size items that will make it easier for the child to handle. These simple practical life activities may seem “easy” for us but it goes a long way with your child. These are indirect preparations that help in the coordination of your child’s movements and development of concentration.

Friendly Reminders:

1. Demonstrate how to do these activities next to your child so they can see what you are doing. Usually, you have your child sit first and you sit to the child’s right.

2. Name the objects you will use before you start.

3. Try to use as minimal words as you can and let your movements do the talking.

4. Make sure he/she is watching how you manipulate the items you are using.

5. Your goal is to demonstrate these actions clearly so the child can repeat the activity successfully and independently.

6. These activities aim to develop his/her coordination, concentration, gracefulness, and independence.

7. Repetition is important. If your child wants to do it over and over, encourage him/her to do so. It helps your child master the skill involved and allows your little one to gain more confidence in himself/herself as well.

8. Make sure to watch out for these important skills: concentration, hand-eye coordination, patience, and hand control.

9. Don’t forget to have your child clean up!

10. HAVE FUN!

Now let’s look at some easy activities:

SPOONING GRAINS:

Materials: Tray, 2 identical bowls, spoon/ scooper, grains (in this case, I used expired popcorn)

STEPS:

a. Wrap your three right fingers around the handle and firmly grip the handle.

b. Make sure the child sees you positioning the oval mouth of the spoon in the center of the bowl, so the grains fall into the bowl and not onto the tray.

c. If the grain falls, show the child how to remove the bowls and pinch the grains one at a time and replace into the bowl.

Variation: You can use jars to practice pouring grains, too.

Spooning Kernels with a Scooper

Spooning Kernels with a Scooper

Spooning Grains with a Spoon

Spooning Grains with a Spoon

POURING WATER:

Materials: Tray, 2 identical glass cups, sponge/towel to wipe off the spills, apron

STEPS:

a. Pouring water from the right hand jug into the left-hand jug then from left jug into right jug.

b. A cloth is to be used to wipe the spills.

Pouring Water Variation: You can have different size jars, some may even need a funnel.

Pouting Water

Pouting Water

SQUEEZING WATER FROM A BASTER:

STEPS:

a. Show your child how to hold the baster by the bulb to draw up the water by squeezing it and releasing the pressure on the bulb.

b. Move the full baster over to the second container and squeeze the water out.

c. REPEAT!

This was a little tricky especially with learning how to manipulate the baster so it took him a few rounds of spills and practice before getting the concept of releasing it after he puts it over the other jar. Micah also realized that it was easier for him after he held the bottle in place by moving it to edge so it wouldn’t move while he squeezed the water out. A towel close by is very handy because this takes a while to get used to. You can use a medicine dropper too. But because of the size of the baster, it makes it easier for their little hands to start with.

Squeeze me Baster!

Squeeze me Baster!

SPONGING:

(See the smile? He loved this!)

Materials: 2 buckets or 2 different containers (mixing bowls are good for these too)

STEPS:

a. Take the sponge and dip it in the water.

b. WAIT a few seconds for the sponge to absorb the water.

c. Pick it up and move your hands with the sponge over the other container.

d. Squeeze the sponge with both hands over the other container.

SPONGING!

SPONGING!

PLAY DOUGH:

We made homemade Jello Play Dough! They smelled so good and I wasn’t too worried if he tried to eat it. (Thank God he didn’t! haha) Squishing, squeezing, stretching and moulding play dough helps to build muscle strength in the fingers and hands.

Providing small items like buttons, sequins, pasta, pebbles and shells with the play dough will also encourage the child to use his/her hands when picking up and placing these objects in the dough. Put out some shape cutters, a grater, blunt plastic knives and tweezers which can all be used to mould and transform the play dough.

In our picture, we used the Melissa and Doug set I found at Ross for $5. Rolling pins foster the development of the precision muscles of the hands. The precision muscles of the hands are the muscles that support the pencil grasp and teaches the child how to adjust the amount of pressure when holding a pencil.

Mold & Make Me Something!

Mold & Make Me Something!

These are just some of the many things that your toddler can do to exercise his/her fine motor skills. Show excitement and delight when your child accomplishes these tasks! Encourage them to continue doing it. As parents, be in the moment and pay full attention to your child. Developing motor skills is the first step to writing without stressing your child and yourself, too!