The leaves are changing, Thanksgiving is right along the corner, and the temperatures are dropping! It is so important to keep your entire family active during the winter months, including your infants. Many area community centers have “Mommy and Me” and “Gym and Swim” classes that encourage fine and gross motor activities. Local music centers also have specialty classes just for the little ones. There are still plenty of great activities that you can do indoors with babies to keep them active and achieve those gross motor milestones along the way.
Below are some fun activities to do with your little ones outdoors and indoors as the weather turns colder.
1) After a diaper change when your baby is still on the changing table, ‘bicycle’ their legs in a rotating movement from their hips and knees. This reciprocal motion is great for learning to crawl and walk!
2) If you have a dog, include your babies in the daily dog-walking. Quick, ten- to fifteen-minute walks with your kiddos that can walk or be pushed in the stroller get them (and you!) out into the fresh air. As you are walking, talk to your children about the nature around them and how the seasons change the trees, grass and temperatures. As a rule of thumb, dress your babies in one layer heavier then you would yourself.
3) Provide supervised tummy-time daily. Even though it is recommended to place your baby on his or her back to sleep, it is still OK for infants to play on their tummies when supervised. The head lifting and arm and back strengthening that the babies do on their tummies is very important for gross motor development and for achieving the motor milestones of crawling and pushing up onto all fours.
4) When your little one has learned to sit, still get down on the floor to play with them. Place toys just outside of their base of support so they have to engage their tummy, back and shoulder muscles to reach for them.
5) Make sure to carry your baby in different positions and switch the side of the body that you are carrying them on. This will activate different muscles in the neck and trunk to help the baby be able to look both ways.
6) When the baby is able to sit unsupported, use large balls and roll them back and forth between you and your baby. This activity will help the babies with both their coordination and balance.
7) Set up a crawling obstacle course with pillows for babies to crawl over and around. They will love the challenge and you will love that they are developing core strength and motor planning along the way!
Even though the temperatures are becoming colder, it is still important to keep your babies active. Enjoy playing with your infants, both indoors and out, to keep them (and you) happy and lively!