Games to Encourage Imitation Development
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Both infants and toddlers love imitation games. Even a newborn will try to imitate your funny faces, and an older baby will love to play copycat as you go about your day. This helps build social skills and encourages mental development.
Transcript: Newborns and toddlers alike love playing copycat games! During the first two months of your newborn's...
Newborns and toddlers alike love playing copycat games! During the first two months of your newborn's life, your face will be her whole world! That's because a baby of this age can't focus on anything farther than eight to 16-inches away from her eyes, which is just far enough to make out the features of the person holding her! Capitalize on this interest by making funny faces with your baby. Smile wide, wink your eyes, stick out your tongue, raise your eyebrows, or whatever it is that makes your infant giggle. Or try slowly moving your head back and forth with your eyes locked on your baby's. Don't be surprised if she tries to imitate your silly faces, which is a skill even very young babies can master! This simple activity helps vision and hearing develop. And it teaches your baby social skills regarding both giving AND receiving attention. Fast-forward 12 months to your baby's first birthday. Now, you can play a whole new imitation game with her! Toddlers of this age love to mimic the "grown-up" chores that you do, from raking the lawn to sweeping the floor. Make the experience more fun by buying some child-sized implements, like a broom, shopping cart, rake, or toolbox. The next time you have a task to tackle, encourage your little one to "help" you with her own tools. Of course, she won't be the most coordinated sweeper or shopper now, but that's not the point. Instead, it's all about your infant exploring her mental and physical capabilities. Mimicking your actions also stimulates both her fine and gross motor skills. And the activity makes your child feel like an important part of the family, an emotional experience that's invaluable to her! Get even more out of this activity by encouraging your toddler to imitate an older sibling's actions. This makes your BIG kid feel important and capable, too, which is a winning combination for you, Super Parent!More »
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Parents instinctively know that babies need lots of hugs, cuddling, and love to grow. Discover other ways to stimulate your baby's brain by learning more about infant and toddler development.
Transcript: You want the very best for your baby, and the good news is that giving your little one a great head start...
You want the very best for your baby, and the good news is that giving your little one a great head start is surprisingly simple! Just as your baby's physical needs are fairly straightforward, your little one's emotional and mental ones are as well. In fact, your infant's biggest want is one you already supply effortlessly-love. Studies have repeatedly shown that attention and affection in infancy have a DIRECT result over mental and physical development later in life. Show your baby how much he or she means to you by cuddling, touching and playing with your infant as much as you can. Most childhood experts agree that it's virtually impossible to spoil a child younger than six months, so shower your baby with affection by answering newborn cries immediately. All of this love and bonding allow your baby to feel secure in your mutual relationship, in turn encouraging your infant to explore his world. In addition to your love, talking and reading to your baby will help your little one thrive. That's because children who are consistently spoken and read to have the best vocabularies, and higher IQs. So make "conversing" with your baby a normal part of your days, by narrating your actions or reading bedtime stories. To further encourage your child's development, stimulate your baby's senses whenever you can. This can be as simple as regularly introducing your infant to new people, taking your baby for walks and outings, and playing with your little one often. Expose your child to structured play, like stacking rings and building blocks. But also give your baby the tools-like an open, childproofed space-to play on his own. Similarly, encourage small challenges for your baby. If your little one wants to stack rings, for example, let her try before you help. Allowing babies to figure things out on their own fosters both confidence AND a bigger brain. Finally, remember that one of the best things you can do to nurture your baby is to nurture yourself. Take regular time for YOU-whether that means soaking in a bubble bath or enjoying a date night with your partner. Your baby will thank you for returning.More »
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Entertaining your baby -- playing games like peek-a-boo -- is fun for baby and parent alike. But it also helps your infant to develop mentally and physically. Discover more ways to keep your baby engaged and active.
Transcript: In the days since your newborn arrived, you've become an expert in baby bottles, baby crying, baby napping...
In the days since your newborn arrived, you've become an expert in baby bottles, baby crying, baby napping and baby pooping. But what do you know about baby playing? Playing a variety of simple games with your baby is a vital part of your infant's early development. Playing together is also an important bonding activity for the two-or the three!-of you. In your baby's first three months, the games you play together should be incredibly simple. Try putting on some music, and dancing with your little one around the room... or sing repetitive songs, like "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Rockabye Baby." Most newborn babies also love to look at unique or colorful objects, so another fun activity is holding various items in front of your infant's eyes. Between your infant's fourth and six months, your baby will learn to roll over, reach for things, and maybe even sit up. Take advantage of this newfound maturity by playing more active games. Try hoisting your baby into the air, and flying your infant around the house. Babies of this age also benefit from spending playtime on their tummy, which helps them push up and eventually learn to crawl. As your baby's body continues to mature, so does your little one's brain. By the seventh month or so, your infant will understand that something you hide from sight is NOT gone forever. In other words, this is the age when peek-a-boo games will be a big hit with your baby! During the end of your infant's first year, your baby will be even more mobile and games will become more interactive. Encourage your baby's newfound crawling or even walking ability by putting favorite toys a distance away and asking your little one to go get them. Your baby will also enjoy arranging and rearranging items, as with stacking blocks or plastic rings. Remember that whatever game you're playing, a baby that's smiling, laughing or watching intently is engaged. If your little one starts to fuss, looks away, or cries, it may be time to switch up the activity to something that's more fun for everyone!More »
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You know the basics of infant care, but do you know how to tap into a baby's emotional needs? Watch this video to learn more about how to raise a happy baby.
Transcript: Believe it or not, how you treat your baby NOW is one of the biggest indicators of whether your little...
Believe it or not, how you treat your baby NOW is one of the biggest indicators of whether your little one grows into a well-adjusted adult! Infants are emotional beings right from birth. In fact, emotions are biologically based, built into our brains, designed in part to help foster connection with others. Right from birth, infants experience several primary emotions. During the first 6 months of life, as the infant makes cognitive gains, these more simple emotions evolve into more sophisticated ones. And with each passing year, your child's emotional repertoire grows. Emotions in infants are expressed by facial reactions, so pay attention to what that little face is telling you. A sensitive parent will learn to pick up on different kinds of cries and facial expressions, and will react appropriately. Reading your baby's non-verbal cues can help you be a more effective parent. Similarly, you will also become adept at decoding variations on a theme, for instance, when a cry means: "I'm tired," versus when another cry means, "I'm hungry." While this is not a foolproof mode of communication, you will learn to read your individual baby's needs by paying close attention. You may also learn when NOT to respond to a cry, which can be the foundation of a key life lesson that your baby can't ALWAYS get what she wants. This helps foster some small steps toward independence, which is key for your child in developing the ability to self-soothe. As your baby gets older and her emotional centers develop further, allowing her to struggle through minor problems is vital. This helps her feel satisfaction at learning a new skill, and also sets the stage for a child who can cope with frustration. So let your infant try to get up on her own after that small tumble, or give your little one the space to pick up a dropped toy on her own. While this may sound counter-intuitive, one of the best ways to make your baby happy is to allow her to feel sad. Letting your child express sadness and anger teaches her that feeling bad is not only OK-it's a normal part of life. As your toddler gets older, encourage this even more by teaching her the words for her emotions. When your child can put her feelings into plain language, she becomes even MORE able to regulate them. Balance is key here: teaching coping skills for negative emotions should go hand-in-hand with fostering and encouraging happy ones. One of the kindest things you can do for your child now is to encourage creative fun, from stacking blocks to playing make-believe. Engage in this play WITH your child as often as possible, as quality time with you is another key to childhood contentment. In the end though, perhaps your baby's biggest barometer of happiness is YOU. Even very young babies can pick up on their parents' moods, so presenting yours with a calm, cheery attitude is one of the best ways to get your little one grinning. If this is hard for you; because you're feeling over-stressed, frequently depressed, or generally unhappy, it's VITAL to get some help for YOU. Seeking your own happiness is-after all- the BEST way to ensure your BABY'S!More »
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Babies who start using baby sign language can communicate their needs and may even develop speech skills at an early age. Learn more about baby signing.
Transcript: Does your baby wave bye-bye or blow kisses? Then your little one is already well on the way to expressing...
Does your baby wave bye-bye or blow kisses? Then your little one is already well on the way to expressing thoughts with signs! Sign language isn't only for the hearing impaired, in fact, almost all infants love to learn and use sign language too. A baby's motor skills and the ability to understand words, BOTH develop faster than the ability to actually speak. As a step to speaking language, babies are often able to learn some simple sign language as they progress towards speaking. The idea of teaching simple sign language to infants was put forth in the late 1970s by John Garcia, a childhood development expert. Garcia realized that HEARING babies of DEAF parents learned sign language very easily-and the benefits were huge! Signing babies appeared calmer because they could express their wants and needs more clearly than before. And best of all, children who knew how to sign spoke better by age two, and they even seemed to have higher IQs! That's because signing is used ALONGSIDE normal speech, enhancing the development of language. With so many benefits, it's no wonder that baby signing books and classes are now so popular in the United States. And while these classes can be beneficial, you can also teach your child to sign right at home. Start when your little one seems eager to babble and play with you, usually around her eighth to tenth month. When the time is right, pick a sign! Most experts recommend focusing on a concept your baby is interested in, whether it's "food," or "dog." Some common popular signs include "food" or "eat," where you put your fingers to your lips..."book," where both hands are extended, palms up..."bear," where the arms are crossed across the chest...and "more," where the tips of all fingers touch in front of the chest. Note that some parents prefer to use American Sign Language, as Garcia did, while others choose a simpler version made for babies. Whatever you decide, use the sign EVERY time you say its corresponding word. Always use the same sign, and repeat it often in several sentences. It may take your baby several days or even several weeks to sign back to you, but your infant WILL if you're consistent-and you'll enjoy a closer, more fulfilling, even deeper bond as a result!More »
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If you're not sure how to stimulate baby's senses, you can help them along with fun activities. Watch this video to find out how.
Transcript: The first few months of your baby's life are characterized by rapidly developing senses. Help them along...
The first few months of your baby's life are characterized by rapidly developing senses. Help them along with these fun activities! Your baby's skin is very thin and sensitive, so tactile stimulation is a great place to start. Help your infant learn about the sense of touch by gathering textured objects, like: tissues, feathers, cotton balls, and anything made of velvet or corduroy. Gently rub each object across your baby's cheek or tummy, talking to your little one as you do. You can start this tactile stimulation as early as your baby's first month, and expect it to be a favorite game through her first year. In fact, very young babies even have a specialized tactile reflex that causes them to turn their heads to feed in response to a touch on the cheek. This is called the rooting reflex. This activity allows your baby to become aware of both tactile sensations and of her own body. Another game you can play with your infant involves using a flashlight to stimulate your baby's sense of sight. To do it, place a piece of tissue paper or a sheer scarf over a flashlight, and then secure it with a rubber band. In your baby's early months, slowly move the bright beam around the room as your infant's eyes follow the beam of light. Later, once your little one's mobile, you can shine the flashlight on the floor and encourage your toddler to "catch" it. This flashlight fun helps your baby develop the ability to track objects with her eyes. Meanwhile, chasing the beam promotes big motor skills and hand/eye coordination! To stimulate your baby's sense of sound, all you need is your voice! Help your baby develop hearing skills by placing you're your little one in an infant seat in the middle of a room. Then, talk a stroll around the space, talking or singing as you move. Although a newborn won't be able to turn her head to follow you, she'll still notice the changes in your voice. This game helps your infant develop the ability to track both sights and sounds. And, as a bonus, it helps foster a deeper sense of security, as your child becomes accustomed to your voice getting louder and softer, as you "disappear" and then come back into sight. As for your baby's sense of smell, it's still so immature that she can't differentiate between good and bad smells. She won't acquire this skill until she's a toddler, but you can still stimulate her nose! To do it, take your infant on a stroll through the neighborhood. Point out fragrant objects, like flowers, and help her find words for them, like, "That smells fantastic!" This activity helps develop your baby's vocabulary and it ALSO allows her to practice distinguishing different scents. Your baby's fifth sense, taste, is somewhat limited now, especially since your little one only eats breast milk or formula. Research DOES show, however, that babies prefer sweet tastes from birth, and will choose, if given a choice, to suck on bottles of heavily sweetened water, but may turn away from something bitter or sour tasting. But for now, don't worry about stimulating this sense until your baby starts on solid food around that six-month birthday. Encouraging the development of all your baby's senses is a GREAT way to help your little one learn about the world. And as a bonus, it's an excellent chance for the two of you to bond!More »
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Baby motor skill development comes gradually over time. Use these tips to help your baby develop his fine motor skills, such as stacking blocks, and gross motor skills, like crawling.
Transcript: The best thing about teaching your baby basic motor skills? You can disguise those lessons as play! By...
The best thing about teaching your baby basic motor skills? You can disguise those lessons as play! By the time your baby reaches six months, your little one should probably have no problem rolling over and sitting up on unaided. One game that infants of this age love involves meticulously stacking objects. To play with your infant, gather objects of similar sizes that can be easily layered on top of one another. Building blocks, cereal boxes, and plastic cups are all great for this activity. Depending on your infant's age, he may need some help creating his stacked structure, although he'll have NO problem knocking it down unassisted! This simple stacking game allows your baby to develop gross motor skills, which involve the biggest muscles, like his arms. The activity ALSO helps encourage FINE motor skills, which engage small muscles, like the fingers. Additionally, stacking and destroying help your baby learn all about cause and effect. Soon your eight-month-old will be ready for yet another educational activity: filling and emptying containers. To encourage this, offer plastic Tupperware in various sizes, several spoons or shovels, and a variety of things to pour. Some good choices include oatmeal, seashells, sand, and O-shaped cereal. Get your baby started by pouring seashells into one container, or scooping up oatmeal with a shovel. Keep in mind that this activity can get messy, so consider putting a plastic tablecloth on the floor! Filling containers is a huge boost to your baby's fine motor skills and his hand-eye coordination. In the coming months, your baby will learn to crawl, cruise, or even walk, offering you even more opportunities to help gross motor skills develop. A great way to do so is by creating a baby-friendly obstacle course in your living room. Set up a series of barriers, like stuffed animals, books, and even a chair, around the room. Then, take your baby's hand or crawl with him, guiding him over, around, and under those objects. Aside from gross motor skills, this game helps your baby develop balance, coordination, and lower body strength. When playing ANY game with your infant, remember that your little one will pick up activities at his own pace. Be patient during the process, and allow yourself to enjoy the games as much as your baby will!More »
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You will be surprised to know that babies develop preferences by the seventh week. See how you can promote healthy growth through this video on Newborn Development - Week 7.
Transcript: Whoa, super senses! Your baby is experiencing serious sensory stimulation, and is definitely loving all...
Whoa, super senses! Your baby is experiencing serious sensory stimulation, and is definitely loving all the new sensations! At first, babies see everything in only black and white, and reflexively prefer to look at high-contrast edges and patterns, but they acquire the ability to begin distinguishing colors by the time they are about 7 weeks old. Stimulate your baby's sight by introducing very brightly hued books and toys, and by taking your little one out on frequent walks. Your baby's sense of sound is developing too. Your newborn may start to experiment with making more noises, from coos to squeals. Encourage this by talking back to your baby, perhaps narrating your day aloud or singing. And speaking of song, most babies LOVE music. Find YOUR child's preferences by playing everything from Bach to the Beatles. Your little one will show you what music he or she loves by using brand new facial expressions, like raising eyebrows, furrowing brows, and, of course, smiling! Remember, however, that as important as playtime is, most babies can become over-stimulated very quickly. If your baby is fussing, looking away, tensing up, or arching his back, it's time for a quiet break. Allow your baby the time he or she needs to regroup, and then you can return to playtime a bit later.More »
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Newborn Development - Month 5 will bring a number of surprises for you as a parent. Find out what to expect in this video on our website.
Transcript: It's the fifth month, so don't be surprised when your little one starts to recognize his own name. Aside...
It's the fifth month, so don't be surprised when your little one starts to recognize his own name. Aside from this newfound name recognition, your baby will learn LOTS of other things this month, like object permanence. Object permanence means that your baby will start to understand that just because you put the bottle out of sight, doesn't mean it no longer exists. Your infant will also begin to identify objects that are only partially visible, such as a favorite toy tucked halfway under the couch. As your baby comes to these startling realizations, playing peek-a-boo and hide and seek will bring hours of fun. In fact, your little one will like to play pretty much anything with you, as attachment to you and other caregivers grows. On the flipside, this means if he or she hasn't already developed stranger anxiety, it is likely to happen soon. This normal developmental milestone requires patience and understanding on your part, and gentleness on the part of people whom your baby doesn't know. Your baby's senses of sight and sound will rival yours. That means your baby will now be able to hear sounds and connect them to their source; as well as discern very subtle differences in light colors. Meanwhile, your little one may also learn to sit up unassisted. Your baby may even be strong enough hold his or her own bottle. Just remember not to leave your infant alone with one! You may also decide that your baby is ready for solid foods now, although it's best to make this introduction ONLY with your physician's approval. So, if you haven't already, ask about food introductions when you go in for your baby's five-month checkup.More »
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By month six, your baby will start developing its motor skills by crawling and grabbing objects. Find out more in this video on Newborn Development - Month 6.
Transcript: Your baby's not crawling or walking yet, but your six-month-old is probably still figuring out PLENTY...
Your baby's not crawling or walking yet, but your six-month-old is probably still figuring out PLENTY of ways to get around. Now that your baby's arm and neck muscles are a bit stronger, he or she may be rolling from back to front and vice-versa on a regular basis. Many infants even use this skill as a method to move from one place to another. As your infant prepares to crawl, you may find your little one hoisting onto all fours and rocking backward and forward. Your baby will also probably get a kick out of standing and bouncing on your legs as you support her. Another surprising development this month? Your little one's first tooth might appear! While some babies sail through the teething process, many feel discomfort and aren't shy about letting you know! Make teething less painful giving your little one a teething ring, or feeding your baby cold food, like applesauce, and if the discomfort persists, by speaking to your doctor about types of mild anesthetics for your baby's gums. And speaking of food, if you haven't introduced solids yet, you'll probably do so this month. Although six-month-olds continue to get most nutrients from milk, experiments in food will teach small motor skills and swallowing. This month, your baby also continues experimenting with one syllable sounds and expressions of delight or disgust. Because your baby won't be able to talk for some time, some people advocate teaching hand signs to your baby. To do so, use a hand signal every time you mention a certain word, such as pointing to your mouth for "hungry." Your baby will catch on and may begin to use these signals to tell you what he or she is thinking. Congratulations for making it through these first challenging and rewarding months!More »
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The ninth month of your baby’s life will be exciting and full of surprises. Watch this video to learn more about Newborn Development - Month 9.
Transcript: Your babbling baby may make no sense to you, but ACT as if you understand. After all, you're your little...
Your babbling baby may make no sense to you, but ACT as if you understand. After all, you're your little one is trying to communicate. Most babies jabber so much because their capacity to understand language far outweighs their ability to use it. Just keep talking to your baby in specific, short phrases, and remember to watch your tone, which your baby ABSOLUTELY understands. You should also encourage your baby's individual personality, which is really starting to show now. Personable or shy, moody or sunny, passionate or calm, your infant is really becoming a "person" at last. And while you're proud of this independence, you may find it less than thrilling when you want your baby to do something your little one is not inclined to do. Your baby's independent streak MAY cause some resistance when your are trying put your little one down for a morning nap, which you CAN encourage-as long as your baby can last to lunchtime without fussing. If your baby tries to blow off sleep at night, however, you'll obviously need to put your foot down. This is where a bedtime ritual can be ENORMOUSLY helpful, as it eases your baby into sleep mode slowly. Also, make sure you actually LEAVE your baby when you say "night-night"-and try not to return until he or she is asleep. During waking hours, though, your baby will love to play with you! Your infant will learn language, social, and coordination skills from his favorite activities, like peek-a-boo, "sooo big" and pass the ball. And another fun new play game that often gets discovered this month is how to put things in an object and then remove them. Give your baby some infant appropriate blocks and a bucket for this purpose and let your little one go to town!More »
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You may see your little one bottom shuffling and crawling around the eighth month. See what else is in store for you by watching this video on Newborn Development - Month 8.
Transcript: Get ready for MORE baby proofing! Your infant will start crawling this month, and will have those little...
Get ready for MORE baby proofing! Your infant will start crawling this month, and will have those little hands into more things than ever! While most eight-month-olds can crawl, every baby will have his or her own preferred method of getting around. Some babies creep, or push themselves around on their bellies...while others may navigate with both hands and feet, bottom pointed upward. Some babies even "bottom shuffle," moving around on their behinds with a hand in back and a foot in front. Whatever your baby's movement method of choice, you can bet your infant will be into absolutely EVERYTHING, which is why you should baby proof! Pad sharp corners, cover electrical outlets, install toilet seat locks move drapery cords out of reach, and put safety gates at the stairs. This is especially important if your baby is pulling himself upright into a standing position - while holding something for support, of course. Babies at this age may even take a few steps, although some infants don't walk until they are into their second year. As your infant uses that newfound mobility to charge into situations, you may be surprised to find that your baby gets scared or withdrawn. Help your little one adjust by cuddling and talking to your baby softly, allowing your infant to approach new people or places at his or her own pace. You may find that your baby latches on to a blanket, pacifier, or stuffed animal for security at this time. In fact, you baby probably gets a particular kick out of dropping things, waiting for you to pick them up, and then dropping them again. Indulge your little one's humor when you can. After all, someday your little baby will be your big child, and may not be as eager to play!More »
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Encouraging baby to sit up should only be done when you can tell he's ready for it. Watch this video to find out more.
Transcript: Sitting upright is a skill you take completely for granted-but it's a fascinating feat for your infant!...
Sitting upright is a skill you take completely for granted-but it's a fascinating feat for your infant! Your baby won't be able to master sitting unassisted until your little one has sufficient neck control to hold that little head upright. Expect this to happen around your baby's fourth month, when rapidly developing neck muscles make it suddenly simple to manage that once seemingly heavy head. Once your baby has mastered this head-raising skill, your infant will begin to do the classic "mini pushup." This cute pose involves your infant propping those arms on the ground and holding his or her chest off the floor at the same time. And by the time your little one is doing these gymnastics, it's only a matter of time until your infant can rest in a full-on sitting position. In the next several months, your baby will master this so well that you can expect your little one to pull into a full sit and to hold it unaided for minutes at a time. Once your infant IS upright, expect your baby to fall in love with seeing the world from this vantage point, as there is SO much more to see and learn from this new perspective! To help your baby learn to sit like a pro, make sure you give your little one plenty of playtime on that tummy. From this tummy-down position, your infant will WANT to lift her head and push up on those arms. Encourage this step by playing with your infant on the floor, using bright toys or pleasant noises to make your little one lift her head. As your baby masters this skill, teach your infant about sitting by propping your little one upright, legs in a wide "V" and arms together between them. As your baby becomes more and more comfortable with this changing perspective, challenge your infant even further by putting interesting objects JUST out of reach. The bend and stretch required will improve strength and small motor skills. Even more importantly, this movement is a precursor to new milestones, like crawling, standing, and walking!More »
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