One of our biggest educational points with our families is the importance of creating opportunities. Sure, sometimes kids will march along the developmental milestone path all the way to independence regardless of additional guidance or support. But more often than many might think, they get stalled or become satisfied at one stop and their drive to try new movements becomes minimal. Even if your child is self-propelled along this path to independence, there is never any harm in providing more opportunity!
When babies are newborns, these opportunities come from free floor play, no equipment! Select just a few highly motivating toys, get down on the floor and just play! At first it will be about exposing them to different body positions (belly, back, side, sitting) and different sensations (floor, blanket, soft or fuzzy, etc.). Then they’ll start engaging with you and you can create opportunities for reaching, shifting, and pivoting. Helping them learn to be curious and explore is the best motor boost you can give an infant.
As they get older and more independent and mobile, height becomes a huge component to creating these opportunities. Present them with toys that are short, tall, or have components both high and low. Place toys on benches or steps, on cushions or tables or chair seats, or use vertical surfaces like windows and mirrors. Encourage them to play with these heights in kneeling, standing, bending, and twisting. Even if you’re baby isn’t ready or able to do it on their own yet, help facilitate it. We’ve said this before and we will repeat it many times as you continue to read our materials: move (or help move) the baby to the toy rather than the toy to the baby. Apply this principle across the board and you should be off to the races!
If you’re looking for more ideas to create movement opportunities for your little one check out our wellness programs and our e-books targeting gross motor play with a purpose (now available in 3 editions 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months). Also, check out our Developmental Milestone Round Up with blogs on all the milestones (bookmark it because we keep adding to it!)
Here is a video and a blog of some walking/standing opportunities.