Fun Learning Activities–Young Infants

Fun Learning Activities for Infants

Your infant has arrived and now a good deal of your time is spent feeding, cuddling and perhaps walking the floor. This time is filled with learning for you and learning for your baby as well. Most of this  can be fun, especially with some of these activities.

Infants are eager sensory learners. Watch how your baby responds as you try some of these activities.  S/he will let you know if they are pleasing and fun or if you should try something else.  All of these activities are good to use with newborns and young infants (birth to 3 or 4 months) and more sophisticated versions can be added as your baby matures.

Auditory Experiences

In this first list we are focusing on hearing and sound although many of these activities can involve another of the 5 senses as well, i.e. visually following the rattle as you move it or enjoying the sense of touch as you gently rub her back while reciting a poem or as you dance with him in your arms while listening to some jazz.

  • sing quiet lullaby
  • make eye contact and mimic baby’s noises, verbalization
  • play variety of music–children singing, classical, jazz–just be sure to keep the volumn fairly low
  • go outside and baby will hear the birds, the cars, the various noises and you can name them
  • rattles, rain sticks and other noise making items– shake gently
  • move the rattle from one side of baby’s head to the other and watch his response
  • nursery rhymes have lasted for generations because of the rhythm and the repetitive sounds
  • read to baby and tell her stories or recite poems

Tactile Experiences

Gentle and soothing touches are what young infants need.  Try some of the following.

  • gently massage baby’s arms, legs, fingers and toes
  • blow on her belly
  • use a cotton ball or a feather to tickle his arm or back–watch to be sure it is pleasurable as even gentle tickling is not for everyone
  • slowly swing her back and forth in your arms–add music for an auditory component
  • place her on a soft bath mat and then on a different textured mat or rug–be sure to place her on her back and on her belly but don’t let her sleep on her belly
  • let him grasp your finger while eating or cuddling and then let him hold a clean, cool carrot from the refrigerator–remember whenever your infant has something in his hand it needs to be safe so once he has finished eating you need to hold the carrot also.   All items your infant holds need to either be held by both of you or be large enough to not choke on (if it fits into the carboard tube from a roll of toilet tissue it is NOT safe.

Fragrances/Sense of Smell  

  • place a small drop of a fragrance on a scarf or face cloth but avoid strong fragrances and be sensitive to reactions.  We know that babies can be allergic to certain items.  For example just the scent of peanut butter can cause a severe reaction for some children.  Avoid any harsh odors.  Some possible items–a mild cologne, baby’s shampoo or soap, a flower, vanilla, baby oil or lotion.

Taste

  • The opportunity to offer a variety of experiences in relation to taste is pretty limited during the first few months of life.  You infant will taste breast milk or formula, probably some cereal and perhaps some juice or fruits.  Even though it is a limited list you can certainly talk about them.  Yum, yum, your cereal is warm and good.  or your juice is cool and sweet.  Your infant is of course experiencing the differences and most of all enjoying the relaxed pace of eating and the time with you.  And of course your baby is likely to have tasted your finger as well as her own and perhaps a bit of her favorite blanket as well.

Vision

  • attach the black and white patterns that are on plastic and designed to tie to cribs next to baby in her crib.  These patterns  provide the level of contrast that young infants can see.  Or hold a black and white pattern a foot or so in front of your baby while you are holding him.
  • hold your your baby in your arms so your face is 12-18 inches from his eyes.  Move your mouth and your eyes and observe your child’s reaction.
  • Show your baby pictures that have contrast–a large bright blue ball on a white background or a bright red kite against the light blue sky.  Simple objects that have distinct edges and are brightly colored are easier to see
  • shine a flashlight on a dark wall or cloth a couple of feet from baby.  Be sure to not shine light in her eyes.

And check for activities for infants between 4 – 8 months.

 

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