Towards Toddling: Activities for 6-12 Months
This is a very exciting time in your infant’s development. At six months s/he may show the first signs of dragging himself/herself forward. S/he can grasp and pull things and even transfer objects from one hand to another. S/he can respond to your tone of voice, and even babble, with some control of sounds.
But within another six months, you will be looking at a considerably different child. By 12 months, s/he can roll a ball and throw objects, sit without support, stand unaided, walk with help or even toddle around for a few steps. In language and learning, a one-year-old will be able to associate simple gestures with words like ‘hi’ and ‘bye-bye’ – or a shake of the head for ‘no’ (a very popular one at this age!).
At 12 months you will find a child playing closer attention to speech, and even using nonsense babbling, which contains some real words and the inflections of real language. They will enjoy looking at picture books, family photographs and may even say a few words or names in response. Read on for some simple activities you can do at home to help your child’s development:
- Picture Cards and Picture Books
Buy or make up cards or find simple picture books with pictures of simple objects and their names in big letters, for example CAT, TREE, FISH and BUS, etc. Strong primary colours are best. Show the pages or cards to your child one at a time and name each picture as s/he looks at it. And have fun! Do this activity for not more than a couple of minutes a day. Also, name everyday household objects as you use them, for examples, SPOON, FORK and CUP, to encourage vocabulary development skills.
Give your baby a variety of books that offer different tactile experiences: cloth books, soft plastic books and board books. Bright picture books with large, simple illustrations are best. You can point at the pictures to help your baby focus on specific sounds. The three Little Pigs is a favourite story. Vary the tone of your voice as you read it. For example, use a high-pitched voice for the little pigs, and a hoarse one for the big bad wolf. Blow onto your baby’s hair and his/her forehead when you read the part where the big bad wolf tries to blow down the little pigs’ houses. Do not be afraid to re-write any of the stories. It is always preferable to tell the story in your own words as you can keep eye contact with the baby at all time. And don’t worry if your baby is too young to understand what is going on. Your enthusiasm will more than make up for it. What is important is the ‘flow’ of the language – the patterns of ordered sounds and rhythms (and perhaps even rhymes) that program the child’s brain to hear the subtleties of the spoken and written language – even though the meaning may not register.
- Rhythmical Rhymes, Animal Antics
When your baby can sit up with a little support from you, s/he will enjoy action rhymes and bouncing on your knee. Choose a rhyme that has ‘noisy’ animal sounds of, for example, ducks, cats, cows and sheep. Sit your baby facing you, holding him/her firmly on your knee as you sing him/her a rhyme. Move your knee up and down to the rhythm of the song. Your baby enjoys this activity because s/he can you see you clearly all the time as well as listen to you. S/he may even try to make the sounds that you make.
- Rock ‘n’ Roll/Creep ‘n’ Crawl
Rock ‘n’ Roll: Give your baby plenty of room to exercise his/her arms, hands, torso and legs. Put your child on his tummy, show him/her a toy and place it to one side of him/her, just out of his/her reach. S/he will roll over to try and grab it. Transfer the toy to the other side to encourage bilateral movement. Your baby may also be able to roll over from his/her back onto the tummy completely on his/her own although this may be a little more difficult. Again, encourage him/her to roll both towards the right and the left. His/her newfound skill at rolling will give him/her joy, especially wen you celebrate this achievement with lots of cuddles and hugs.
Creep ‘n’ Crawl: Put your baby on his/her tummy on the floor and place a favourite toy just out of reach. Encourage him/her to move towards it. Even if s/he is not able to raise his whole body, s/he will push forward on his/her tummy. Your infant still needs regular periods of lying on his/her stomach, face-down. In this position, s/he learns to balance on his/her hands and knees.
- Texture Time
When your baby can roll over and lift his/her head up while lying in a prone position (face-down) or creep on his/her stomach, let your child explore different sensory experiences. Place him/her on a variety of interesting surfaces; carpet, parquet, marble or even on a mat or grass in the garden. Let him/her feel different textures and fabrics. Keep talking to your baby, ‘This is carpet; what a pretty design.’ Watch your child discover the touch of the floor. Allow your baby to continue to explore his/her world in a safe environment. Provide lots of tactile experiences.
Adapted from Magic Moments, Small Beginnings (0-24 months), Fun Activities to Nurture the ‘3 Minds’ in Your Child
Written by Carmee Lim and Brian Caswell
Brian Caswell is an internationally acclaimed award-winning author and a respected educationalist with over 35 years of experience in the areas of public and private education. As Dean of Research and Programme Development at MindChamps, Brian has dedicated himself to creating programmes that enhance students’ learning, active recall and thinking processes, taking into account the latest research into how the brain learns and stores information.
Carmee Lim is a visionary educator who has devoted her whole life to making a positive and significant difference in the way we learn. She was the Principle of Raffles Girls’ School, one of Singapore’s top schools, for 12 years. She was also a Senior Inspector of Schools in the Ministry of Education for four years. Carmee’s keen interest in applied brain research led her to develop multi-sensory programmes for pre-school children that integrate music and gymnastics into early childhood learning.