On the Move!
Many gross motor milestones are reached during this stage. For many, crawling is the first step, and crawling comes in all types of varieties: dragging himself across the floor with his forearms, just learning how to pivot around in circles, rocking back and forth on hands and knees, and the always entertaining half sit, half crawl. Don't worry too much if your baby comes up with his own style, but as always discuss any concerns with your pediatrician.
Motivators: Things that Roll
Usually it takes having a desirable object or toy just out of reach to give baby the motivation to get moving. Small vehicles and balls work well, because as he approaches it and hits it with his hand, it rolls even further out of reach. Try to resist the urge to give your child the toy at the first sign of frustration. If he is persistent, he will keep trying to get the ball and sooner or later may have dragged himself across the room without even realizing it.
Homemade Rolling Toy
-Empty old-fashioned oatmeal containers/round salt containers(cardboard type) or formula/cereal canisters
-Small block or toy to add to the container for noise (or dry rice grains for the salt container)
-Optional: stickers, magazine cut-outs of interesting baby faces or animals to decorate the container; clear contact paper to cover
Playtime: Roll the container to your baby to catch his attention. After awhile, put it slightly out of reach so he’ll be tempted to try to get it.
Babies still love cause and effect at this stage, so having the toys or rice inside will add the dimension of sound effects.
I can stand! Now what do I do?
Learning to stand can occur before, during, after, or instead of crawling. Some babies skip crawling all together once they’ve learned the excitement of standing up and seeing things at a different level.
This can be a scary time for baby as well. Getting up was easy, but once they are up, how do they get down? Sometimes they find out the hard way that they hit the floor with their bottoms pretty quickly. This usually startles them, but once you let them know that it’s okay to fall and teach them to get right back up again, they’ll get over their fear of falling.
One way to help babies learn to bend their knees and ease them down from a standing positon: put a favorite small toy on the floor by their side, so they will be encouraged to figure out how to reach the toy.
Unless they get severely frustrated, let them try to figure it out and make a few unsuccessful attempts. You can also put a pillow down with the toy on top to make the first few tries more successful.
Fill and Dump:
Babies love to drop small identical items (such as blocks) into containers one by one and dump them out again.
Homemade Fill and Dump Toy
-Metal ends from frozen juice concentrates – cleaned – there are usually no sharp edges on these
-Empty Formula can, stainless steel bowl, plastic container, empty wipe container, or small shoebox
Playtime: Fill, dump, repeat!
Homemade Fill and Dump: Challenger Version*
For older babies, cut a suitably wide slot in the top of a formula container or shoebox lid. You can also use the available slot on some types of wipe containers.
Playtime: Show baby how to drop the metal lids into the slot.
Make sure the slot is in a horizontal position while the can is upright in front of baby. This will match the motions he will most likely use to put the item into the slot. He will not yet have the dexterity to twist his hand in awkward positions.
Once he has mastered this position over a length of days or weeks, change the position of the slot to vertical and allow him to problem-solve this new puzzle.
*If this level of play seems to frustrate your child or he lacks interest, it may be too soon. Try again in a few weeks, as 12 - 14 months is usually about right for beginning this game.
Challenger Version Example:
Other Fill and Dump Activities:
This age group loves nothing more than opening and closing a low-level cabinet and exploring its contents. They will pull everything out, examine it, attempt to put it back and then repeat.
Things to Put in Baby’s Cabinet:
-small pots with covers, plastic storage containers with or without covers
-small light boxes of food such as pudding, jello, and instant rice
(things that make noises when shaken are a bonus)
-small cans like tuna and tomato paste to stack and roll
let them pull out all the clothes and help them put them back in
Low Bureau Drawer
let them pull out each nicely folded item and attempt to stuff them back in again
(a close second to kitchen cabinet fun)
Other Popular Activities:
-Peekaboo and Patty Cake
*For video clip demonstrations of popular finger play songs, check out the Reading is Fundamental (RIF) website's infant/toddler page here:
Bonus: Listen and learn about nursery rhymes, lullabies, and age-appropriate stories. There’s also a preschool section for older siblings.
Nanny's Book Note: Always check your local library first for a test drive. It's a great way to find out which books are truly worth adding to your child's cherished collection.
Next Week: One Year
Photo Credit: Sam Pullara