Today, parents want more stimulation for their infants than shaking a rattle or bouncing on a lap. Parents are choosing childcare providers for the development programs that are offered for their tiny ones.
During the first year of life, infants progress from involuntary reactions when first born to developing a certain amount of control over their movements. One way to help them along in a fun and amusing way is an activity called “tummy time” games. These include simple little activities that you can engage infants in to help them develop strength in their muscles and coordination of their movements. Here’s how it works:
- Choose a time for “tummy time” games when the baby is wide awake.
- Gently roll the baby on its tummy (it’s easier if you lay a padded mat on the floor rather than try these games when the baby is in its crib).
- The baby will probably raise its head and shoulders in uncoordinated movements.
- Try rolling a ball within the baby’s line of sight and watch him follow it with his eyes. He may even express some excitement by kicking or flailing his arms.
- For a change, shake a rattle or noisy toy in front of him and lower or raise it so that his head reacts accordingly.
Infants tire easily, so be sure to stop when he shows signs of fatigue. Eventually, the infant will be able to hold his head up for longer periods of time. This is a great exercise to help develop the muscles in the infant’s neck, back and shoulders – and to develop posture. It’s also a terrific exercise to help the babies learn to roll over.
When your infant tires of being on his stomach, gently turn him on his back, play awhile and then turn him back on his stomach. Be creative in finding objects, sounds or movements that the baby will physically respond to when lying on its stomach. When you sense that the baby is tired of play time, quit and go on to something else.
Through the first few months of a baby’s life, physical activity is one of the major influences to develop motor and cognitive skills. The babies will flourish when they’re exposed to a stimulating environment that encourages physical activities. Tummy games can be both fun and exciting and will help them – even during this early stage in their lives – to develop a love for physical exercise.