Thursday, July 06, 2006

Day 136 - Raising a Smarter Baby Part 2 - Motor Skills

Part 2 of the Raising a Smarter Baby series

Today's Tip - Teach your baby to use his body to learn

Your baby can't really explore and interact with his world until he learns how to move and control his body. And though the order he learns things in might seem random, it couldn't be further from the truth. Babies develop "big" movements first, like controlling their head, and then move to the "little" movements, which can be anything from picking up a spoon to sign language.

Head Control
One of the first things your baby will learn to do is to hold his head up on his own. Most will figure this out by the time they're three months old. To help him along, give your baby some time on his stomach every day, and encourage him to lift his head. Put an object that grabs his attention in front of him, and get down on the floor too. Once he's can hold it up on his own, try gently picking him up from his back without supporting his head.

Reaching Out and Grabbing Something
Once they develop this skill, it'll semm all they want to do is grab whatever you've got in your hands and put it in their mouth. By five months, she should be able to reach for something she sees, and by eight or nine months, pick up small objects like cheerios. To help develop this skill, dangle objects in front of his face for him to grab at, surround him with toys to go for, and place safe objects like rattles and stuffed animals meant for infants in his hands.

Rolling Over
When a baby gets this skill, there's no turning back. It seems like once they learn to roll over once, they've got it down pat after a few weeks of allllmost getting it. By four or five months, they should be able to go one way, and by seven or eight months, they should be able to roll both directions and from both stomach and back. To develop this skill, give them a safe spot to practice and encourage them to roll over by holding something next to them or helping them along. Make it a fun game as to push them in the right direction.

Sit Up
Before you teach your baby to sit up straight, you've got to teach them to sit up. By four months, they should be able to do it propped up, and before they're a year old they should have sitting up down pat. Try holding them in your lap or put them against some pillows to give them the sensation of sitting up. Always supervise!

Finally, your baby can move! he's going to be able to get into everything...before you know it you won't be able to keep up. Look out for crawling between eight and thirteen months. Encourage them to play on their stomach more and more as they discover all the seperate movements they need to crawl, and then as they put them together and finally learn to move. Once they start moving, crawl after them and let them chase you as a fun game. Give them a safe obstacle course they can crawl around and explore.

Standing and Walking
One of the last things your baby will do. It's a trying time, filled with falls and scary moments. But it's rewarding to see them walk with confidence on their own. Hold your baby standing up so they can see what it feels like. Hold them near a table and let them grab on to the edge for support. And then watch them pick their feet up and start to take their first steps. Be sure to have the video camera out, and always always always supervise.

Part 3 Tomorrow - Developing Vocal Skills

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