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Babies begin to adapt to the world, grow and develop in a multitude of ways from the minute they're born. Wiggles and cries become less of a reflex as your baby grows and learns to make movements on his own. Interactive activities with parents and caregivers help babies develop all-important muscle and sensory skills.
Four of the five senses—sight, hearing, taste and touch—are widely developed throughout baby's first months. You can help develop your baby's vision by positioning her so she can see your face. Place some stark black-and-white drawings or pictures on the wall where she can see them. Hang a brightly colored mobile on her crib. Develop hearing skills by talking to your baby, answering her coos and by playing music often.
Taste is a baby's way of exploring the world. She will begin to put everything in her mouth. Even though a baby is nursing or on formula for most of her first year, give her tastes of doctor-approved foods. Develop her sense of touch by providing a variety of textures for her to experience, such as toys and bedding. Hold your baby's hand to your face and help her grasp your fingers as a touch skill.
Give your baby some time each day on her back and then on her tummy. She will use different muscles to wiggle her arms and legs and to try to hold up her head. Sit baby on your lap while supporting her back and neck. She will begin to develop stronger muscles and eventually be able to sit without support. Move your baby's arms to reach, retract, pat hands together and pull against your grip. Do the same for her legs, and add some standing time to your play routine.
Small motor skills
Give your baby a toy to grasp. As she grows, playtime will evolve from simple grasping to placing pieces in a puzzle frame, scribbling with a crayon, rolling or catching a ball and manipulating favorite toys.
Large motor skills
Play with your baby as she sits in a padded bouncy or saucer chair. Talk and play as she bounces up and down. Turn the saucer so she can't see you. This will encourage her to turn her body to see you, and eventually to push on the saucer surface to turn the chair by herself. Put a play mat on the floor to give her room to roll around and eventually crawl. Sit or lie down by the mat to encourage her to move toward you or to play with the toy areas on the mat. When she is able to hold herself up and is beginning to try to walk, give your baby pushing and ride-on toys to help develop large motor skills. Be sure to closely supervise these early efforts to crawl, walk and ride on a toy.