How to Make Activities for Baby | 6-12 Months Old
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While you were pregnant did you enjoy reading weekly descriptions about your baby’s development? I know I loved it, and after my baby was born I still liked reading about her weekly development online. A lot of times these milestones lists will also come with a list of developmental activities to help the baby. I found these lists very frustrating though because different babies develop at different times. You can have two babies of the same age where one can sit up and the other one hasn’t rolled over yet. There is a pretty wide window of what’s considered “normal,” once our babies are out of the womb so these suggested lists can be hard if they’re making suggestions for something for you baby to do when they don’t have the necessary skills to do so yet (such as grabbing objects, crawling, etc.) I got kind of tired of all these suggestions that made me feel like my baby was behind.
So mama, how can YOU create developmental learning activities that are appropriate for your little one?
There are 3 simple steps for you to follow: Know, Observe, and Plan.
**For the sake of this article I may be making examples most applicable to moms with babies ages 6-12 months but the general principle can be used for various ages.
Before you can really work on activities you need to know what the core areas of development are. Knowing these will help you in the next two steps. The areas of development are…
- Language Development
- Cognitive Development
- Physical Development
- Social and Emotional Development
I have written more specifically on these areas of development in a post about why children should play and how to optimize it for them which you may want to check out if you’re not sure what each of these areas of development means. Understanding these areas and having a general idea of your baby’s current development is the foundation you need to create meaningful learning activities. You can read about your child’s expected developmental milestones on Baby Centre or I also know many people who enjoy using the Wonder Weeks App for this purpose. As I said before, they’re not always super accurate for your own child but it can give you an idea of what you can be expecting your baby to do soon.
Once you have a basic understanding of your baby’s expected development the next thing you want to do is intentionally observe them – this will help you to specifically notice what they can do and what they are learning to do. You might watch your baby all the time but when we start to intentional observe them we can learn a lot more. When I want to observe my baby I like to do it when I am sitting on the floor with her and she is playing happily without me. I sometimes narrate in my head what she is doing as a way of taking a mental note and truly noticing. By doing so I have learnt which toys she prefers and can notice a pattern in her interests. I had noticed my daughter was always choosing the smallest possible items which she liked to look at closely. Around this time I also started to have to vacuum more because she liked picking up specks off the carpet. I could tell she was interested in small items, which was great for her fine motor development. I paid attention closely to what she was and was not capable of with her current set of fine motor skills.
I ask myself questions like – what is she playing with? Do these things have anything in common? How long does she play with it for? Which skills is she working on?
Observe your child intentionally and you can take notes too if it helps. This will prepare you for the next step.
With these two steps behind you now you are ready to really create a great activity that is appropriate for your child. You should now have a basic understanding of what they are capable of and what they are interested in. Ask yourself what their next step might be in their development, or how you can give them more opportunities to practice that skill.
My daughter was really interested in small items so I changed up her toy basket to include more small (but safe) items. I try not to put too many things in at once so it’s not overwhelming for her. I knew she liked clothes pins and so I clipped some clothes pins onto a strip of ribbon. This is so simple and cost me nothing but she really enjoyed looking closely at this and at times pulling off the clothespins. I knew she liked small things so I just looked around my house for small items. (PICTURE) I did this because she was interested in small items so I used that INTEREST to help develop her FINE MOTOR skills.
I also like setting up a simple but intriguing area to draw her attention. With an older child, you may have baskets on a shelf or simple items set up on a placemat on a table. My daughter is crawling and I don’t have a good shelf for baskets right now (plus she would just pull it out and drop it on her head at this point) so I had to improvise. I found an old CD tower we weren’t using and turned it upside down to make a mini table, I have placed it in the corner of her room away from some of the more exciting areas and I will place new, but interesting, items on there for her to check out. The first day she didn’t even go over there, but eventually, she did and she was really drawn to the items because they were displayed nicely instead of just thrown into her usual basket of toys. I planned this learning opportunity for her by displaying it in a way that would capture her attention based on what I already knew she was interested in and capable of.
Spoons displayed in an interesting way
Truthfully planning can be overwhelming
That is, if you make it complicated. Once you get the hang of it though it can become a natural habit where you just know where your baby is at, you notice what they’re up to, and you give them opportunities to continue in that learning. If you need some inspiration though then checking out Pinterest or activity lists might not be a bad idea, because you learnt about development and observed your child so you will know what’s best for them when going through an overwhelming amount of ideas. When you’re looking at these pre-made suggestions don’t stick with the suggested age but think about where your own child is at instead of trying to force something on them that they’re just not ready for yet.
Below are some more pictures of DIY items I made for my daughter according to her interests and development at the time.
I hope this post has given you the confidence to create great activities for your baby, or at least helped to prepare you to wade through the endless suggestions on Pinterest. I love Pinterest (you can follow me here), but knowing the when of executing the pretty DIYs can be hard to figure out.
Observe your baby today and see what you can learn about them and how you can add onto that. Tell me in the comments what your baby’s favourite thing to do is lately? Right now my daughter, who is currently 9 months, loves slapping flat surfaces like the wall, tables and of course, my face! She’s exploring sounds right now and I am currently working on planning more opportunities for her to explore new sounds. Do you have any fun ideas I could use with her? Let me know in the comments and have a happy day!
The Moving Mama
Lizzy Mash is an experienced early childhood educator now living in Africa as a missionary working with children and families.
She teaches Christian moms how to take a more respectful and Christ-like approach to motherhood by using Gentle Parenting strategies.
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