Learning through play: 6-12 months

By Published On: January 28th, 2010

playingbabyPlaying games isn’t all for fun—it’s also the best way for your baby to learn and develop social, cognitive and motor skills. Read on for playtime tips for babies of all ages as well as ways to expand your baby’s learning potential.
Sensory stimulation
Sight. Your baby is finally reaching visual maturation with the introduction of depth perception. He can enjoy a full range of colors, although bright-colored toys may still be the most appealing.
Sound. Try out different types of music and have a “dance party” with your baby. He is also old enough to enjoy operating musical toys by himself. Singing and talking stuffed “friends” become easy favorites and good practice for socializing.
Touch/taste. At this point, your baby is probably reaching and grabbing for anything in his path. He is fascinated by strange textures in his hands and wants to test unfamiliar objects in his mouth as well. This is the time to babyproof if you haven’t already! Keep a variety of non-toxic toys around so that your baby can explore different shapes, sizes and textures.
Fine motor maturation. Your baby is more interested in toys these days; he’ll work to get a toy that’s out of reach and may cry when a sought-after object is taken away. Your baby will start to manipulate old toys in new ways. He can now pass a block from one hand to the other and flip the pages of his board books.
Activity boards and cause-and-effect toys are beginning to make sense to him, and he is learning to use them for their intended purposes. “Putting and taking” becomes all-engrossing. A 9-month old baby is suddenly interested in relieving every box, drawer and shelf of its previous contents. About a month later, he becomes interested in putting the items back as well. Your baby can then stack his stacking toys (where he previously enjoyed unstacking).
Gross motor milestones. The best thing you can do to help your baby reach physical milestones is allow him opportunities to grow and explore. The baby who is constantly held or strapped into a car seat won’t get the chance to crawl even if he is ready and able! As he approaches the one-year mark, your baby may be able to roll a ball back and forth with you.
Intellectual improvement. Your baby is now capable of recognizing words and gestures. Even before your baby says his first word, you can communicate simple ideas through baby sign language. Baby signing can ease your baby’s communication frustration by giving him an outlet for expressing his desires, cutting down on temper tantrums during his second year. If your baby has learned to wave, clap or blow kisses, he’s ready to master basic signs.