During their first year of life, infants transform from helpless newborns into mobile babies. They learn to sit independently and crawl, and many even begin walking before the end of their first year. Most babies master these large motor milestones through play and everyday activities, and you can have fun doing these activities with your infant.
For a young infant, floor play might mean lying on your back with your baby on your tummy. Encourage him to pick his head up and look at you, or just enjoy being together. Lay your 3- or 4-month-old on her back on a blanket and encourage her to reach out for rattles or other toys. Once your child starts rolling onto her tummy, encourage her to push up on her hands and lift her head to look around. Place a favorite toy just out of reach and encourage your baby to roll or scoot toward it.
Ball play is fun for most infants. Once your baby can hold her head steady in sitting, sit her on a small exercise ball and bounce or rock her gently. Alternatively, lay her on her tummy on the ball and gently roll her back and forth or encourage her to push up on her hands. Once your child can sit independently, roll a smaller ball back and forth with her to play “catch.” Experiment with different sizes and textures of balls. Try a bumpy ball or one with a bell inside.
Sitting and Standing
Once your child learns to sit and stand, she might want to be in those positions all the time. Put a favorite toy on the couch and encourage her to pull up and stand there to play. Place another toy at the other end of the couch and encourage her to sidestep along the couch to get to the other toy. When she gets tired, help her to sit back down on the floor to rest, and give her a few blocks or another toy to play with.
Play Tables and Push Toys
Play tables are an alternative to having your older infant stand up at the couch and play. She can pull to standing and play at her table, pushing buttons and making music. Push toys are fun for an infant who wants to walk but does not have the balance yet. Look for a sturdy push toy with a wide base so it will not tip over if your infant leans to one side while she is walking.