Healthy habits start very young. The choices parents and caregivers make for babies and toddlers can get them off to a good start. From babyhood to childhood, using large muscles is important to learning. Children learn a lot about the world by using their whole bodies. Of course, encouraging good nutrition, making sure your child gets plenty of rest, and participating in physical activities together build healthy habits that can last a lifetime.
JUMPING AND MOVEMENT
Most of your infant's movements involve large muscles since smaller muscles aren't developed yet. Help your baby move by encouraging standing for short periods of time on your lap, leading to eager pulling up and "cruising" later. Remember, all babies are different and your baby will develop at her own pace.
- As you lift your baby to standing, say the word "up." See if your baby starts to anticipate the action.
- Talk about her body parts with your child as you lift her to standing.
- Be sure to watch for signs that she is tired. Move on to another activity when she's ready.
Infants love to be where you are and to experience the sights, sounds and smells of the kitchen. You will probably be able to work most safely if you put your baby in the high chair and hand him odds and ends to mix, taste and feel.
- Expose your baby to the way things smell and look when you are cooking.
- Give baby measuring spoons to hold as you prepare your family's healthy food.
- Give your baby a separate bowl and spoon to play with as you cook.
GOING TO THE PARK
Children love the change of pace and scenery the park provides. Infants love the stimulation of swinging with you on the swingset. Babies who crawl will soon try to stand, so make sure the things she uses to pull up on are solid and safe.
- Move the baby so she can see all of the action.
- Label the things that the baby can see, and repeat the sounds she makes.
- Place your baby on a blanket and encourage her to roll, reach and grasp.
Children are very interested in their environment and fascinated by things that grow (just like they do). Your baby can start learning about the world by listening to you talk about and label the things he sees around him.
- Remember that crawlers like to put everything in their mouths. Growing things should be placed high out of reach and talked about when you have time to show the plants to your baby.
- Talk to your infant, and tell him about flowers, trees, plants and grass in the environment.
- Carry your baby to see growing things.