You don’t need expensive toys to give your baby’s development a boost.
Marketers do a great job at making parents feel guilty for not buying the latest baby toy, promising hours of entertainment and developmental benefits. They soon find out that a baby’s attention span is about two to three minutes per year of their age, meaning that your six-month-old is going to lose interest very quickly. In baby terms, think of “play” as simply encouraging them to move and to see, touch, and hear new things and experiences.
These tried-and-true methods are very effective at boosting your child’s development. They are also free and allow you to put your toy money to much better use, such as compounding in a 529 college savings account.
Here are some helpful ideas to stimulate your baby:
- Find a colorful garden and let your baby look around for visual stimulation.
- Watch moving cars from your window – this helps with object tracking and building visual skills.
- Place baby on his or her back, and let them swat at a mobile to build their motor skills and learn to understand cause and effect
- Pull out your favorite playlist and jam to the tunes while your baby watches and listens – all genres of music are baby-friendly and helps to develop language skills (just make sure not to crank the volume too loud).
- Guide them through the motions of clapping, peddling the bike and stretching their legs to develop motor skills.
- When they are able to lift their head, place them on their tummies for 3-5 minutes, three times a day to build neck strength. Challenges can be fun too!
- Have a blast at bath time! It offers tons of different tactile, fine motor and sensory experiences.
- Also, there’s a reason peek-a-boo has been the go-to baby game for generations – it never ceases to entertain, and it teaches object permanence – understanding that things they can’t see still exist, which is a steppingstone to other milestones.
- Finally, when your infant is older and eating solids, encourage play with food of different textures and tastes – hopefully at least some of it ends up in their mouth!
If you have a particular concern about an aspect of your baby’s development, make sure to raise the issue with your pediatrician at your baby’s next well visit.
Dr. Ellen Lestz is a board-certified pediatrician, seeing patients at White Plains Hospital Medical & Wellness in Armonk. To make an appointment, please call 914-849-7900.