Activities: 6 to 14-16 Months
Once your baby is able to sit, they gain a whole new perspective on the world and have the opportunity to refine their ability to use both of their hands together to achieve a task. This stage is also highly mobile and your baby will love having lots of opportunity to try out their new movements and acquire the ability to move forwards, first on hands and knees and then up on two feet!
Place a thin mat for movement on the floor in any place where your baby spends time. If you choose a neutral coloured cover rather than one which is highly coloured and patterned, your baby will be able to see the toys and objects you place on it more clearly.
By spending time watching your baby's movements will help you to understand exactly what area of movement development your baby is working on. The more time they have to move, the more they will repeat the same movement patterns. The opportunity for repetition helps your baby to learn. When your baby begins to crawl, they will no longer need their Activity Mat.
A long low mirror placed alongside the play mat will enable your baby to watch their body move. They will see the results of their efforts as they practise their new movements. Watching themselves in the mirror also enables young babies to build their 'Body Scheme'. This is your baby's growing awareness of their body and the relationship of body parts to one another. It is the growing understanding of the difference between themselves and the world around them.
Young babies find mirrors very engaging. You might be surprised by how happy is playing in front of the mirror. These moments of concentration are highly signficant for your baby's brain development. You can help to maintain them by allowing your baby to explore the mirror without interruption. When your baby wants to reconnect with you or is ready for a change, they will make eye contact with you and vocalise.
A low bed is simply a shallow (11cms) single mattress or futon placed on the floor. It provides a place where your baby can see the world without the obstruction created by the bars of a cot. Using a low bed from 4 months means that as your child's movement possibilities increase, they can move freely and get up and put themselves to sleep when their natural rhythm tells them to do so.
Guidelines for safe sleeping on a low bed:
- sleep your baby on their back, not on the tummy or side;
- if using blankets, place your baby’s feet centrally at the bottom edge of the mattress with their face and head uncovered, ensure that blankets are securely tucked in;
- place the low bed in the same room as the parents for the first six to twelve months of life;
- place the low bed well away from walls – do not push the low bed up against the wall as this can cause entrapment hazards;
- keep the low bed away from all hazards e.g. no finger traps (holes or spaces 5-12 mm wide); no arm or leg traps (holes or spaces 30-50 mm wide); head traps (gaps wider than 85 mm); no protrusions, sharp points or edges; cords and cables.
- do not place anything on or alongside the low bed e.g. pillows, cushions or toys;
- ensure that electrical sockets are covered;
- provide stable shelving and furniture that cannot be pulled over.
All toys have a developmental purpose. If you watch you baby for information about the areas of development they are working on, this will give you information about which toys might engage them. Toys that isolate a single area of development e.g. eye-to-hand coordination, tend to hold a baby's focus for longer. Then once your baby has made that developmental acquisition they will want to move onto something else! Sometimes the toy your baby needs, is not that attractive to us as an adult. This can work the other way around as well. Something that we think looks incredible, may simply be overwhelming and fail to engage them.
Placing a few of your babys toys and books on a low shelf, will provide an incentive for your baby to move. You could place a few small grasping toys in a basket on the shelf, along with 1 or 2 other items. Any more than this can lead to confusion or distraction and your baby won't have the full opportunity to explore the toy you have given them.
Fine motor development - From 6 months
At this stage of your baby's development, toys play the following roles:
- aid in the development of your baby's eye-to-hand coordination
- offer possibilities for your baby to use their two hands together
- challenge your baby's grasp
- support your baby's growing independence
Toys made from natural materials will provide your baby with a more rich sensory experience than plastic items.
- Suction cup punch ball
- Egg cup with fist sized wooden ball
- Wooden block inside a snug fitting box
- Drop boxes - boxes which allow your baby to drop a ball through a hole and have it returned into a tray
- Keys and padlocks
- Bangle with a wooden peg on a base
- Napkin ring on a wooden peg on a base
- 3 ring stacker
- Basket of rings with a wooden peg
- Nuts and bolts
- Objects which can be opened and closed e.g. purses, lipstick cases etc.
- Spinning top
- Large tracker with balls
- Cheese shaker with cocktail sticks (requires close supervision)
Musical boxes are also wonderful toys at this stage of your baby's development. If you are able to find one which can be started by your baby once they are sitting, they will eventually be able to give themselves the experience.
Gross Motor Development - 6-9 months
These toys are designed to encourage your baby to move forwards.
- Balls - knitted, fabric, felt (with a bell inside)
- Cylinder rattle with a bell
Once your is crawling check to see if their clothing is supporting their movement or getting in their way. Your baby will enjoy crawling around on different surfaces and up and down hills. You can watch a video of a baby using toys as an inspiration to move here.
Gross Motor Development - 8-14/16 months
When your baby starts to pull up on the furniture, it is a good idea to remove anything which is not stable and heavy from the spaces your baby will crawl in. A push along wagon which is heavily weighted can provide your baby with the support they need to locomote on their feet during the cruising or 'attached waking' stage. You can watch a video of a baby using household objects in order to pull up to stand here.