Developmentally Appropriate Activities for Infants and Toddlers

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Infants and toddlers develop at different rates.
Infants and toddlers develop at different rates.

As your baby grows, her eyesight and reflexes will improve, and her muscles will strengthen as she moves her body. Soon, she will be able to control her head, sit up straight, and crawl. When your child becomes a toddler, it will be exciting and challenging to see her learn new information and skills. To support your child's development, implement a variety of activities that benefit both the mind and body.

  1. Brain Development Through Music

    • Introduce music to your infant to develop her listening skills and mental development as she notices a variety of pitches, rhythms, and tempos. According to the Bam! Street website, singing enhances infants and toddlers' learning ability and memorization and stimulates the entire brain. Sound is one of the primary ways individuals learn new concepts. Play classical music to stimulate the brain, or sing to your infant while you are feeding her or giving her a bath. Point to different parts of the body and say the names of the baby's mouth, ears, nose, cheek and chin. A good song to sing while pointing to various parts of the body is Sesame Street's "One Fine Face" song. See "Resources" for lyrics and video.

    Visual Development for Infants

    • Shake a colorful object slowly from left to right to see how your infant's eyes move as the object moves across his face. As the child gets older, move the object far away to determine how well your baby can see the object. When the infant's neck and head become stronger, shake a rattling object behind the infant's head to help your infant to turn, look and grab the rattle.

    Motor Skill Development for Infants

    • Place soft toys in the baby's playing area where she can see them. This will allow her to crawl or walk toward the object and squeeze and touch the toys that are accessible to her. You can also lay your baby on a blanket on her stomach so that she can move her legs and torso and lift her head.

    Motor Skill Development for Toddlers

    • Play games and allow the child to do "big kid" activities to develop her motor skills and awareness such as play peek-a-boo games (hiding and appearing) and roll-the-ball games. Sit on the floor with enough space between you and your toddler. Roll the ball to your child and allow your child to roll the ball back to you to help exercise the child's arm muscles and hands. Give your toddler toys to feel, squeeze and throw. Allow your toddler to place objects into small containers and take them out one by one or to dump out all of the objects.

    Speech & Comprehension Development for Toddlers

    • Talk and read to your infant or toddler to help develop his speech and comprehension skills. Never use "baby talk" when communicating with your toddler. Instead, pronounce each word accurately and clearly. Read books aloud during the day and before the toddler goes to sleep to help the child to develop an interest in reading. Say the names of the objects that you give to your child so that he can connect the words spoken with the objects in your hand.

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  • Photo Credit toddler girl outside image by Trevor Goodwin from Fotolia.com

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