Supporting baby's developmental milestones: 3-6 Months
Worrying about your baby's developmental milestones as a new parent is normal. You want your child to grow strong and healthy, and reaching each milestone is significant. However, if you feel like your baby is not quite meeting these milestones, there's no need to panic. You can do many things to support their growth and encourage them before seeking professional support.
To support Personal, Social and Emotional development:
To encourage your baby's social smile, interactions and eye contact
During this stage, it is essential to encourage their social smile, interactions, and eye contact to help with their overall development.
Here are a few activities to help your baby develop these skills:
Face to face
Spend time playing face-to-face with your baby. Give them plenty of eye contact, and take time to sing, play and interact with your baby. Use exaggerated expressions to engage your baby's curiosity, attention and understanding.
Sing if you are happy, and you know it! This simple song is full of emotions to support your baby's emotional self.
The more your baby interacts with you, the more opportunities they have to smile and socialise.
Mimic your baby
Take turns imitating each other's facial expressions, sounds and gestures. For example, when your baby looks at you with a gesture, you can try to replicate the same expression. This encourages your baby to learn how to communicate non-verbally and build emotional connections.
Peek-a-boo is a fun and simple game to play with your baby. By hiding your face and then popping back into view, you can help your baby to understand that people come and go. In addition, the element of surprise will make this game fun and engaging, resulting in giggles!
Meet with other babies
Encouraging your baby to observe and interact with others is an effective way to develop their socialisation skills. Although they may not be able to actively participate in play, they can still engage in their own developmental abilities by watching and learning from others. In addition, this helps them learn how to communicate and respond to different stimuli and pick up on social cues.
Babies enjoy looking at other babies; take some time to go through books with baby pictures. Point out the facial features and name the emotions while expressing the same.
In addition, reading with your baby provides an opportunity to bond with your baby and build an emotional connection.
Hold your baby in front of a mirror, and make faces at them. Encourage them to look at themselves in the mirror and then back at you, creating a back-and-forth of eye contact.
When cuddling with your baby, look them in the eyes, and communicate through talking or singing. Your caring voice, soft touch, and direct gaze will help your baby feel secure and encourage them to make eye contact.
Supporting Physical Development
Babies focus on the world around them from three to six months old and learn to track objects with their eyes. Additionally, they develop hand-eye coordination, a crucial skill that should be nurtured during this stage.
Grab and Play
Choose soft toys with bright colours that your baby can hold. Sit across from your baby and encourage them to reach for the toy. Then, slowly move the toy towards your baby, allowing them to grasp it and feel its texture.
Fill a plastic bottle with different items such as coloured beads, beans, or pom poms. Secure the lid tightly and hand it to your baby, encouraging them to grasp and shake the bottle.
Move around toys
Toys that move and make noise can help grab your baby's attention. Try using toys that are bright in colour or that have interesting textures. You can gently move these toys from side to side or up and down, allowing your baby to follow the object.
Head and neck control
If you have a little one between the ages of 3-6 months old, you may be wondering what you can do to support their head control and neck muscle development. You can do plenty of activities with your baby to encourage them to build strength and control over their head and neck.
One of the best ways to encourage head control is to provide lots of opportunities for your baby to lie on their tummy. Make sure to do this while supervised and to give your baby plenty of breaks. Start with a few minutes, gradually increasing as your baby gets more comfortable. By including sensory stimulation, your baby will stay happily on their tummy for longer, so have toys, mirrors and books to explore whilst on their belly; in addition, it will encourage them to lift their head to look at the objects and to try to reach them.
When your baby is lying on their back, make sure to have some toys at their eye level. This will encourage them to look up and build their neck muscles. Play with different textures, shapes, and colours to keep them engaged.
The seated position
As your baby gets stronger, you can prop them up in a seated position with pillows. First, of course, ensure they are still supported, but this will give them a chance to work on holding their head up on their own.
Massaging your baby's neck and shoulders can also help build their head control. This will also give you some great bonding time with your little one.
The side-lying position
Let's talk about the side-lying position! This is a necessary position often overlooked as we tend to lay our babies on their backs and tummies. Putting your baby on their side for play changes the pressure on their skull; it reduces the effect of gravity, making it easier for them to move their legs and arms and helping to build neck muscles.
Core muscles development and rolling
Rolling over is an essential milestone in their physical development that will pave the way for crawling and other physical abilities. Here are some fun and creative activities to support your baby's core muscle development and rolling over:
Having floor time opportunities is vital to support your baby's development. Floor time allows your baby to safely and freely explore the space around them, learning different ways to move their bodies, practising newly learnt skills and discovering spatial awareness.
Place your baby in different positions, on their tummy, back and side, and surround them with toys such as rattles and stuffed animals to encourage them to move, reach and play. You can also put a mirror or picture of yourself to entice them to look up.
Sit with your baby, place a toy slightly out of reach and help them roll over towards it. Celebrate their achievement with a smile, clap, and hugs to make it a fun experience. Gradually move the toy further away and make the rolling distance longer.
Lie down on the floor and encourage your baby to roll towards you. Use a cheerful voice and exaggerated expressions to grab their attention. You can also mimic their rolling actions, creating an engaging bonding experience between you and your baby.
Supporting Communication and Language
As your baby grows, their ability to communicate and respond to sounds and voices also grows.
These simple activities can help you support your baby's language and communication skills:
Sing and talk to your baby frequently
As a parent, sing and talk to your baby often. They may not understand the words you're saying, but the sound of your voice is essential for their auditory development. Not only that, but they explore how language works and learn new vocabulary. Make eye contact with them as you talk and sing, and watch them turn towards you in recognition.
Use toys or objects that make noise
Baby rattles and noisy materials such as tin foil, bubble wrap, tissue paper and musical toys can all help your baby become more responsive to sounds. Introduce these objects to your baby, and watch as they explore the different sounds they make.
Reading aloud is an excellent way to support your baby's responsiveness to sounds and voices. Choose books with bright pictures and simple text, and read them in a soothing voice. Then, point out the different animals or objects on the pages, and wait for your baby to respond to the sound of your voice.
Go on a listening walk
Take your baby for a walk in the buggy or baby carrier. As you walk, point out the sounds you hear, such as birds chirping or honking. Then, wait for your baby to react to these sounds.
When communicating with your baby, it is important to wait for them to respond by using their body and making sounds or gestures before continuing the conversation.
This helps teach them social skills and shows them the importance of communication.
Repeating their sounds and movements will help your baby understand that their communication attempts are valuable to you.
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