GREENSBORO, N.C. — Movement and play are good for children’s coordination, strength and overall health, according to Guilford Basics. They are also ways that children explore and learn about the world. Each stage of development comes with new opportunities for learning. For example, an infant might explore by touching, grasping, chewing or crawling. A toddler might explore by walking or climbing.
Young children are like scientists—curious and excited to explore their surroundings. See where your child’s curiosity takes them. The more you pay attention, the more you will learn about the person they are becoming.
Tips for newborns to 12 months
Do Tummy Time Give your infant regular “tummy time.” When they lift their head to look around, they strengthen the upper body and prepare muscles to crawl. They also get a new view of their surroundings!
Practice Reaching Hold a toy over your infant’s head or put one on the floor just beyond their reach. This will encourage your infant to reach and build coordination.
Play Peek-a-Boo This game teaches infants that objects (and people) exist even when hidden. It’s also a fun way to bond with your child.
Give Them Things to Handle Provide objects of different colors, shapes and textures to play with. Handling objects helps with hand-eye coordination and motor skills. Use everyday objects. You don’t need fancy toys to keep your baby’s attention!
Support Discovery Your infant discovers how the world works by experimenting. They also learn through repetition, so they might drop a spoon over and over to see what happens. Watch and assist!
Play Search and Find Put an object under a bucket or blanket and see if your child can find it.
Let Them Move Around Let your child explore their surroundings by reaching, rolling, scooting and crawling. This is good for coordination. It also strengthens their “mind’s eye” as they see things from new angles and sense where they are in space. Just make sure they are safe!
Tips for toddlers 12 to 36 months
Follow Them Toddlers learn a lot by experimenting on their own. If your child looks like they are concentrating on something, like pouring water in the bath or stacking blocks, stand back for a moment and let them problem-solve for themselves. This is exercise for their brain!
Help Them Build Use blocks to build a tower. How high can you go? What happens when you knock it over? What other shapes can you and your child build? You don’t need to buy blocks to do this. You can also use cardboard boxes or plastic cups.
Make Art Drawing is a good way to exercise little hands and be creative. Put out some crayons and paper. Your child can also experiment with tearing and folding the paper.
Roll A Ball Roll a ball or a bottle back and forth to develop coordination and teach about cause and effect.
Play Obstacle Course Make a simple obstacle course. You can use blankets, pillows or boxes. See if your child can go over, under, around and through these objects.
Play Hide and Seek Your child can hide behind the couch or under the table. Or, you can hide objects around the room. This is a great activity for developing their thinking skills.
Use Position Words In all of these activities, use words like “over, under, near, far, through, around.”
Take a Walk Everything is new for young children, so an activity as simple as a walk around the block offers lots of opportunities for exploration. Stop and examine rocks, bugs or plants. Talk about what you see.