Major Developmental Milestones in your Baby’s First Year: Part 2 – Back Playtime

In our second part of Major Developmental Milestones in your Baby’s First Year we’re getting the low down on back playtime.  These essential steps are critical to more active milestones like crawling and walking.  Find out how you can stimulate your baby physically and cognitively through back playtime.

Yesterday we talked about tummy time.  On the flip side, lying in a supine position during playtime is also an important step towards major developmental milestones in your baby’s first year.  And your baby may like this one better!

Your baby can participate in back playtime just about anywhere, but using a play gym or play mat is recommended by most occupational therapists.  These multi-functional baby toys give your baby a soft place to lie and plenty of activities to enjoy.  They usually include brightly colored objects with a variety of textures and sometimes even sounds for your baby to discover.

major developmental milestonesAs toys hang above your baby or to her side, your baby will learn to focus on objects at a distance that is accurate for her eyesight.  This helps develop perception.  As the objects move, she will learn cause and effect relationships, first unintentionally and eventually she will initiate them on purpose.  While much of the early movement is caused by reflexes, by around six months your baby will learn the control and coordination necessary to grasp toys dangled over her head or that are by her side so she can explore them.

Holding on to objects is a key skill itself.  Babies can usually do this by around three months.  As your baby gets older she will begin putting objects in her mouth, which is how most babies initially learn about things and experience the world.  At first your baby’s hand movements will be centered but eventually she will learn to “cross the midline” which is an invisible vertical line that divides your baby’s body in half.  This skill helps develop vital components of your baby’s brain and is necessary for crawling, hand-eye coordination and other fine motor development in the future.

Kicking is also a great skill your baby can work on in a supine position.  You can encourage kicking by playing “footsie” with your baby and pushing your feet gently against hers.  You can also hold noisy objects in front of your baby for her to kick such as a rattle or tissue paper, let her knock down soft blocks or cups with her feet, or tie a balloon to her foot to let her see how her kicking affects its movement.

With plenty of tummy time and back playtime, your baby will be ready for her first major developmental milestone: rolling.  And that’s exactly what we’ll be talking about tomorrow!

Sources:  MamaOT, CanDo Kiddo and Starfish Therapy