1 Babies From Birth to 12 Months: Becoming Aware of the World Around Them 2004, ZERO TO THREE. All rights reserved. Contact ZERO TO THREE for all uses:
2 Key Ideas Look for toys and games that engage all of your baby s senses. Your baby explores the world around him using his body and senses: eyes, ears, nose, hands, and mouth. She ll touch a book, chew it, look at it, and sometimes even listen while you read it.
3 Build on Your Baby s Curiosity About the World Toys like textured blocks, rattles, and crinkly fabric toys give your child interesting sensory experiences. Singing, infant massage, and physical play (e.g., riding your baby on your lap while you sing) also promote sensory awareness.
4 Build on Your Baby s Curiosity About the World For older babies, activities like well-supervised water play, finger painting, and exploring musical instruments are fun ways of learning about the world.
5 Key Ideas As you play, watch your baby to see what skills she is developing. Children build all areas of development through play.
6 Learning Through Play Physical Skills Children use their whole bodies when they play. This helps them develop the muscle strength, balance, and coordination they need to learn from and explore the world around them.
7 Learning Through Play Have you seen your baby: Turn his or her head toward you or an interesting sound? Reach for you or a toy? Roll? Crawl? Pull up? Cruise (walk while holding onto a couch or low table)? Walk?
8 Learning Through Play Thinking Skills As they play and interact with loved caregivers, babies develop thinking skills such as: Cause and effect: If I shake the rattle, it makes a sound. If I press the button, music plays. Object permanence: Babies understand that things they can t see still exist when, for example, you hold a blanket over your face and then take it away and say, Peek-aboo! Or when a ball rolls under the sofa, your baby will discover that, if he looks for it, it will be there.
9 Learning Through Play Communication Skills Babies develop communication and language skills as they work to make their needs and feelings known to you. They do this by using: Sounds: Does your baby gurgle, cry, laugh or coo to let you know what she needs or how she is feeling? Starting at about one year, your baby may begin using sounds like baba for bottle or mo for more. Gestures: Does your baby reach for you? Point? Pull on his ear or rub his eyes when he is tired? Watch as your baby learns to use her body in new, meaningful ways waving as leave in the morning, clapping, covering her eyes to play peek-a-boo with you. Facial Expressions: Babies start to smile at about 6 weeks and their facial expressions only get more interesting from then on. Can you read your baby s face?
10 Learning Through Play Social Skills Babies develop social skills as you delight in their discoveries and make them feel important, loved, and competent. You help your baby develop positive social skills by: Responding to her cries and attempts at communication (you can t spoil a baby!) Respect her unique needs and temperament Finding time to spend with her one-on-one
11 Learning Through Everyday Moments It was bath time for nine-month-old Jessica. Her father gently lowered her into the tub. Jessica immediately reached for the red plastic measuring spoon floating in the water and started chewing on it. Then she splashed the spoon up and down in the water. Her dad splashed the water too. Jessica looked surprise for a moment, and then giggled. She splashed again and looked expectantly at her dad. He splashed too. They both laughed this time. Then a rubber ducky caught her attention and Jessica grabbed for it, letting go of the spoon. The spoon dropped into the water and sank below the surface.
12 Learning Through Everyday Moments Interested in what she saw, Jessica dropped the duck and reached under the water for the spoon. She let it go so it fell into the water. She watched it sink and then picked it up again. Her father caught her eye and said, Splash! There it goes it again! Look at that spoon sink to the bottom. Jessica put her fingers in her mouth and started to suck on them. Eating your fingers? Are you getting more teeth? wondered her dad.
13 Learning Through Everyday Moments As he lathered up a washcloth, Jessica s dad sang their special bath song, Head and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes He tickled her toes with the washcloth and Jessica giggled, kicking her feet. Her dad continued singing, Eyes and mouth and ears and nose, ears and nose He kissed the tip of her toes. Jessica laughed, splashed her hands down into the bath and cooed, Daaa! Daaaa!
14 To Think About How is Jessica using actions and sounds to communicate with her father? How is her father encouraging her language development? What are some things that Jessica is communicating to her dad in this story? What are some of the things that Jessica is learning through her bath play?
15 What Was Jessica Learning? Social-Emotional Skills: Jessica s self-esteem is boosted through this warm, loving interaction with her father. She learns about trust as her father handles her gently and keeps her safe. Her dad s kisses during the song make Jessica feel special and loved.
16 What Was Jessica Learning? Language and Communication skills: Jessica is learning about back-and-forth communication through her interactions with her dad-- kicking, cooing, and splashing. When they take turns playing together, Jessica and her father are having a conversation of sorts. When her father wonders Are you getting more teeth? when he sees Jessica put her hands in her mouth, he shows how attuned he is to the messages his daughter is sending.
17 What Was Jessica Learning? Physical Skills: Jessica develops muscle strength through kicking and splashing. She is also practicing fine (small) muscle skills by picking up and manipulating bath toys. Sitting up while bathing gives Jessica time to perfect her balance and to develop back strength as well.
18 What Was Jessica Learning? Thinking Skills: Jessica is learning cause and effect by kicking her legs and then feeling the splash on her legs. She is learning about sinking and floating (properties of water) as she plays with the different toys in her bath. She is learning about patterns when she realizes that songs have a regular, logical rhythm pattern. She is learning about words and language when her she feels (through tickles and kisses) that words like nose and toes represent parts of the body.
19 Thinking About Your Baby As you play with your baby during bath time, what are some of the things you see him/her learning? What are some of the ways your baby communicates with you? What are some ways you can make bath time a time for learning and bonding with your baby?
20 Common Questions About Babies and Play My three-month-old seems to only be interested in interacting with me or playing for a few minutes at a time. Is this normal?
21 Common Questions About Babies and Play Young babies have a fairly short attention span. They are easily overwhelmed and usually only play (interact with you, make eye contact, and/or play with toys) for brief periods of time. Watch your baby to learn what his I m overwhelmed cues are. When he s ready to stop playing, you can give him the down-time he needs. Babies have their own ways of letting you know when they are done playing. They might cry or fuss, rub their eyes or turn away from you, or just fall asleep.
22 Common Questions About Babies and Play My six-month-old hates her jack-in-the-box, the same toy my son loved. In fact, she is so afraid of it that I ve had to put it away. What does this mean?
23 Common Questions About Babies and Play Children (and even adults) take in and react to sensory experiences differently and have different tolerance levels for how much noise, lights and stimulation they can cope with before they feel overwhelmed. It sounds like for your daughter, the loud, fast, and surprising movement of the jack-in-the-box may be too much for her. Look for other toys that offer a similar cause and effect experience as the jack-in-the-box such as rattles or toy pianos where she can press a key and hear a tone
24 Common Questions About Babies and Play My ten-month-old really likes to do things with hands. She will look at and handle a toy over and over again. But she is not really into crawling all around like other kids in the playgroup we attend. Should I worry?
25 Common Questions About Babies and Play Every baby has his or her own preferences for how to explore the world. Some babies are observers they learn by watching and by carefully exploring specific toys or objects. Other babies prefer to learn on the move. For your little observer, look for engaging toys that will build on her desire to explore with her hands. Think about shape sorters, textured blocks, and other toys that encourage handling and observation.
26 Common Questions About Babies and Play You can also promote your daughter s movement skills. Try placing an interesting toy at some distance from her and encourage her to move toward it. Or you can put music on and dance with her. Play with a textured ball (like one with soft bumps) that encourages both tactile exploration and active play. If your daughter continues to show little interest in moving or if you have any questions about her physical development, talk to your pediatrician and ask whether a developmental assessment would make sense.
27 Ideas for Playing With Baby Ready, Set, Crawl! To help your baby develop neck, shoulder, and forearm strength, slide a small pillow or rolled-up towel under your baby s arms and chest while she lies on her tummy. Put some interesting toys in front of her and encourage her to reach for them. Play rocket ship. Try this when baby is about 4 months old or older. Sit on the floor with baby facing you (holding her with her tummy against your shins). Say, Take-off! Roll back and gently lift your legs while holding baby securely. Let her fly for a few minutes.
28 Ideas for Playing With Baby Sway, baby, sway! Place your baby on her back on a small blanket. You and another adult grab all four corners of the blanket and rock baby gently back and forth. This helps your baby develop an awareness of how her body feels in space as she sways upand-down, back-and-forth on the blanket. Who s the fairest of them all? Hold your baby in front of the mirror. Say and point to her body parts eyes, nose, mouth, arms, etc. Then play peek-a-boo. Step away from the mirror and ask Where did baby go? Move back in front of the mirror and say, There s [your baby s name]! This game helps your baby understand that she is her own person, separate from you.
29 Developmental Milestones: Birth to 12 months This list of achievements is not inclusive of everything your baby will learn, but it does give you a sense of the many skills she is working on during her first year. Keep in mind that children develop at their own pace and in their own way. Your child may reach a particular milestone earlier or later in the timeframe. This list has been adapted from Bringing Up Baby: Three Steps to Making Good Decisions in Your Child s First Years by Claire Lerner and Amy Laura Dombro, and printed by the Zero to Three Press (
30 Developmental Milestones: Birth to 12 months Your baby learns what her body can do. Sucking soothes me. I recognize the smell and voices of those caring for me the most. I connect sounds with their sources. My favorite sound is the human voice. I have a good grip as a newborn. By about three months, I will start to reach and grasp things with my hands. I will learn to hold my head up, roll, and probably crawl. I can stand if I hold onto something, and might even be walking.
31 Developmental Milestones: Birth to 12 months Your baby learns about her feelings and who she is. I feel loved when you hold me, smile at me, and talk with me. Sometimes I startle, get frightened, or feel overwhelmed, and I need some help to settle down. I learn to comfort myself. I may suck on my fingers or hands, use a pacifier, or touch my favorite blanket or stuffed animal. I can show you my feelings through my voice, my facial expressions, and my body movements.
32 Developmental Milestones: Birth to 12 months Your baby learns about people, objects, and how things work. I learn I can make things happen. I can shake a rattle and make a sound. I can kick my bathwater and make it splash. I can smile, and you will smile back. By 3 months, I realize that if something disappears, it continues to exist even if I can t see it anymore. I might cry extra hard when you leave me now, because I know you are still out there somewhere. By 6 months, I can tell the difference between people I do and don t know. Try to be patient, and help me feel comfortable with new people. By 9 months, I can pick things up with my fingers. Watch out, I will try to pick up everything I find and might even put it in my mouth to see how it tastes. This is a good time to make baby-proof the house!
33 Developmental Milestones: Birth to 12 months Your baby learns to communicate and relate to others. I love to talk to you. Even though I don t use words yet, I have different cries for when I am hungry, tired, or overwhelmed. I try to tell you what I m thinking and feeling by using my voice, face, and gestures. By 3 or 4 months, I begin to babble to you. I love talking! By the time I am a year old, I might even say my first word. I learn to talk when you talk to me. Research shows that parents who talk the most to their children raise children with the largest vocabularies.
34 For More Information Visit ZERO TO THREE s Child Development Key Topic. Visit ZERO TO THREE s School Readiness Interactive site, where you can learn how babies develop key skills through everyday moments with you and other loved ones.
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