Playing with Baby
Early on, baby plays with her hands and feet and learns about her body. Baby learns about others this way too. Baby may grab for your hair or glasses, or pat your face as a way of learning about you.
Touching a blanket, a cuddly toy or the bath water helps him learn about other things in the world. Give your baby different textures to feel---like sand, rice, soft and fuzzy things, ice cubes or a sponge.
Baby also learns by how she is touched. From your handling of baby, she senses how you feel about her. The amount of holding and touching tells her how important touch is. If you hold baby only when you bathe or diaper him, you both miss out on time to be close.
Touch and hold your baby often. Thats how baby learns that youre near and that you care. Give your baby lots of hugs, kisses, pats, rocking and gentle touches. One way to have fun is to have a daily exercise time. Look for books on baby exercises in your public library. Many Ys and community centers also offer classes on baby exercise or infant massage.
Researchers have found that men and women play differently with babies. Men are more likely to play rough, and are more likely to swing babies around, lift them high in the air, bounce them high and low, tickle and chase them. Although its fun to play actively with baby, remember to keep it safe.
Never throw a baby in the air. Instead, gently lift baby over your head and dont let go.
Dont pull or jerk on a babys arm. If you swing baby around in a circle, dont hold her by the hands. This is too much stress for a babys elbows and shoulders and the joints can become dislocated. Hold baby under the arms, close to the chest instead.
Never, ever shake a baby. This can lead to blindness, brain damage or death.
Reference: GH 6121 "Development During the First 3 Years" University of Missouri Extension