Monday, August 17, 2009

For Babies, A Little Playtime is a Great Workout!

Everyone knows adults and kids need physical activity to stay healthy and strong, but what about infants? It might surprise you, but it is very important for infants to get some kind of physical activity every day.

Babies need to get out of their swings, bouncy seats, car seats, and walkers and be able to move their bodies freely. They need time to play on their tummies and on their backs. Moving freely helps them build the muscles they need to work on motor skills such as rolling over, crawling, and walking. Young infants can be encouraged to move their arms and legs by showing them a colorful toy. They’ll show their interest by squirming, kicking their legs, and moving their arms. Older infants can crawl after toys and roll a ball back to you. They will also want to work on their fine motor skills (fingers, hands) by picking up objects and putting them in boxes or giving them to you.

Since you are your child’s first teacher, it is important to set aside time each day for your baby to play with you. Playtime increases learning skills needed later for talking and reading. Babies love to be able to predict what will happen to them. Your baby will want you to do the same thing over and over again when she plays with you. So go ahead and make the car sound over and over again when you push the toy car along the floor. Your baby will love it!

Playing will also help your baby sleep better at night. Keep in mind that it doesn’t take much physical activity to make a baby tired. Even just a few minutes playing on the floor can tire a newborn. As babies get older, they can spend more time playing and they will be interested in learning about new toys and games. Watch for signs that your baby is tiring so that he doesn’t get over stimulated or overtired. He might look or turn away, arch his back, or yawn. With the right amount of stimulation, your baby will be happy and ready for a good night’s sleep at bedtime!

Here is a list of toys that are safe for babies to play with:
Soft blocks
Plastic bowls and spoons
Soft plush toys
Soft books

Remember: If a toy is small enough to fit inside a toilet paper roll, it is not safe for your baby to play with.

Next time: Yes, You Can Breastfeed After a C-Section!

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