Supporting baby's developmental milestones: 6-9 Months
As a new parent, worrying about your baby's growth is understandable. Of course, you want the best for your little one, and every milestone reached is special. But don't be alarmed if they don't seem to hit the expected milestones. You can do many things to nurture and promote their development before seeking outside help.
Remember that each child is unique and develops at various times and rates. So, if your baby is not doing the same things as your friend's little one, give your little one time!
However, if you are still concerned, seek help from your GP or health visitor. Don't let it linger in your mind, no matter how small your concern is.
Communication and Social Development
Developing babbling and eye contact skills
Babbling and eye contact are important milestones to look for as your baby grows and develops. Babbling helps improve their language skills and learn how sounds and words are connected. Eye contact helps them develop social skills, understand facial expressions, and interpret emotions.
To improve this skill, here are a few easy activities you can do:
Playing with finger puppets can be fun and beneficial for your baby. Due to their small size, finger puppets help develop grasping skills and encourage finger isolation as they move their fingers to make the puppets move. Furthermore, finger puppets are an excellent tool for connecting with your baby, engaging them with eye contact and encouraging talk. You can create stories using various voices and sounds to captivate their attention and encourage communication; give your baby time to respond and repeat any communication attempts.
You can also use finger puppets during singing; try matching the puppet to a fun rhyme or song to make it more enjoyable. For instance, if you have a cow puppet, you can sing "Old MacDonald" or "Miss Polly Had a Dolly" with a girl puppet or make up your own versions.
Your baby's social world understanding develops through interactions with you and other primary carers. They learn from your facial expressions, gestures, and voice. Mirrors can be a valuable tool to engage your baby's playtime. You can make silly faces and point to your facial features, encouraging your baby to observe, imitate, and communicate with you.
A baby massage can create a unique bond between you and your little one. It involves gentle and rhythmic movements on your baby's skin, providing comfort and familiarity. The physical touch you give during the massage can promote safety and security for your baby.
You can communicate with your baby by making lots of eye contact. When giving a massage, narrate what you are doing, the part of the body you are touching and how, for example, "I'm gently squeezing your leg up, one, two, three, now down, one, two, three", etc.
Wait for your baby to respond to your voice and touch and repeat their sounds, vocalisations and gestures to encourage back-and-forth communication.
Responding to their name
Parents often get excited about their little one's first words. But what we sometimes overlook is their response to their own name. A baby's ability to recognise and respond to their name is as essential as any other developmental milestone.
Babies need to understand that their name is associated with their identity. And by responding to their name, they show that they recognise that connection. It's also a crucial element in their communication skills and their safety.
Here are some activities to help you support this skill:
Sing their name
Babies love hearing their names and responding to the tune of a song. So why not sing their name to the tune of a nursery rhyme? This will help them recognise their name and familiarise themselves with different sounds. So, for example, instead of using "Baa baa black sheep, say your baby's name rather! baa baa Ana have you... And remember to point to them as you sing their name.
Create games like "Where is... (your baby's name?)." For instance, place a cloth on your baby's head and pretend they have vanished! You can make it thrilling by exclaiming, "Where's... where did they go?" and then revealing your baby by removing the cloth, saying, "There you are, there is..."
Personalise a storybook
Try changing the character's name in the book to your baby's name and pointing to your baby when you say their name. Reading books together like this can help your baby recognise their name and improve their cognitive and language skills.
Repeating their name constantly will help them get familiar with it. Then, when you're playing with your baby or having a conversation, incorporate their name into it as much as possible.
Repetition is key, so be patient and keep trying.
Crawling & Sitting Up
Your baby needs to learn how to sit up and crawl independently, as it helps their physical development and allows them to discover their environment. Developing motor s ills is also crucial for building essential physical abilities to help your baby move around and interact with others as they grow.
Here are some tips on how to support your baby to move, crawl and sit independently:
Giving your baby plenty of tummy time is essential. It's an excellent way to develop their core muscles and strengthen their upper body. You can place your baby on a mat or blanket on the floor and let them enjoy playing while on their stomach, roll and freely explore movements. Use toys and fun objects to encourage your baby to move towards you.
Use a pillow
A nursing pillow can support your baby while learning to sit up. Place the pillow behind your baby's back and gently support their back while sitting upright and maintaining their balance.
Practise sitting on the floor
It helps allows your little one to practice independent sitting. It also allows them to develop their ability to move around. Therefore, give your baby many opportunities to practice sitting independently on the floor. Sit on the floor, too, so they can model your behaviour.
When choosing a chair for your little one, select a low chair that allows their feet to touch the ground. This will give them the support and comfort they need to build confidence and independence. Avoid high chairs that they cannot reach.
Moving from lying to sitting
Encourage your baby to develop their tummy, back, and shoulder muscles by helping them transition from lying to sitting up frequently. For example, whenever you change their nappy or pick them up off the floor, gently pull their hands to help them sit up.
Additionally, playing bouncing games by holding your baby's hands while gently pulling them up and softly jumping up and down can be helpful. Sing Sleeping bunnies and encourage bouncing! This fun action will engage your little one's curiosity and bouncing skills.
Reaching and exploring objects with both hands
Encouraging your baby to use both hands while exploring objects is crucial for their cognitive, physical, and emotional development. Both hands stimulate the brain, improve memory and cognitive skills, and enhance learning abilities. It also improves hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills and prepares them for handwriting.
Encouraging play with various materials, objects, and toys will boost interest and motivate your little one to reach for them and explore.
Soft blocks to stack and knock over
Playing with blocks can help stimulate your baby's curiosity and improve their understanding of cause and effect. They will learn to control their surroundings and manipulate objects to achieve different results. Moving their hands and body to play with blocks also strengthens their muscles and improves their motor development. Take turns placing the blocks on top of each other; describe what is happening and what you are doing, your movements and the shape and colour of the blocks.
Add some toys to the water to make bath time more enjoyable for your little one. This will provide a calming sensory experience to help your baby relax and feel comfortable. Consider getting s me fun squirting toys that will surprise your baby as they explore and squeeze the toy submerged in the water. This activity will also help your baby develop their fine motor skills by using both hands to press the toy.
Treasure baskets are baskets full of sensory surprises! They are baskets filled with everyday objects that offer your baby new sensory experiences. For example, you can add sponges, wooden and metal spoons, a whisk, a hairbrush, and a set of keys. Your baby will enjoy exploring each object's different textures, sensations, and sounds, encouraging them to grab and play.
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