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Activities : Smarter Baby
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How to Do Yoga With a Baby


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December 16, 2008


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Babies reap the same health benefits from yoga—improved balance, increased flexibility, deeper relaxation, better sleep and fewer digestive problems—as adults do. And when you do yoga with your pint-sized Buddha, you’re also establishing a physical and emotional bond that both parents and babies crave.

But don’t expect your 3-month-old to be striking her own downward-facing dog pose. When you take a yoga class with your baby, expect some deep-breathing exercises (for you), baby-massage techniques (for the diaper set), a few stretching and balancing poses (some incorporating your baby and some not) and a chance to meet with other new parents and enjoy some time interacting with your baby.

Difficulty Rating: Moderate
Things You’ll Need
Comfortable, loose-fitting clothing
Yoga mat, blanket or towel

Step 1:
Create a calm, relaxing environment. Dim the lights; play soothing music.

Step 2:
Say some chants softly, holding your baby near as you do.

Step 3: Hold your baby close to your body and take some deep breaths, inhaling by filling up your belly and then slowly exhaling. Since babies naturally belly-breathe, you can even place your hand on your baby’s belly and mimic her breathing rhythm.

Step 4:
Place your baby on her back and bend her knees up to her chest, then let go. You can also perform a cycling motion with her legs. This promotes digestion and prevents constipation.


Step 5:
Stretch your baby’s arms and legs, even tracing her fingers and toes with your fingertips. This relieves muscle tension and encourages relaxation.

Step 6: Place your baby to your side and concentrate on some poses that will help you get your body back in shape. Roll your shoulders forward and backward to relieve tension. Tilt your pelvis off the floor as you lie on your back to strengthen pelvic floor muscles.

Tips

Don’t worry if your baby starts acting up. Yoga is supposed to give you peace and relaxation—not create angst. Just go with the flow and remember yours is not the first baby to interrupt a class.
Check out yoga and baby exercise tapes at bookstores; for classes, call health club centers, visit your local Y or even inquire with your obstetrician, pediatrician or local hospital.

Warnings
Get your doctor’s approval before beginning any postpartum exercise regimen.
Check with your pediatrician to find out if your baby is old enough to start baby yoga.

Donna Christiano is an award-winning free-lance journalist who has written extensively on women’s and children’s health for many consumer magazines, including Woman’s Day, Parents, Weight Watchers and others. Donna has also served on the staffs of Glamour and Bride’s magazines. She tries to live a healthy and strong life in New Jersey with her husband and two children.


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Baby Toys for a 6-Month-Old


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December 16, 2008


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By the time babies reach the age of 6 months, they are ready to develop skills beyond listening, crying and sleeping. Infant development toys can teach these babies to use basic motor skills, increase communication abilities and improve hand-eye coordination as they learn to balance and touch different objects. Colorful toys with different textures and puzzle games are among the most appropriate toys for a 6-month-old. You’ll need toys that stimulate all the senses and encourage your baby to play for extended periods. Here are a few ideas to add to your 6-month-old’s toy chest.

Colorful Mobile: Mobiles are a must for newborns and infants at every stage of development because they simultaneously provide mental and sensory stimulation. Mobiles made with simple, bold images can help babies to distinguish between different shapes and improve their vision skills. Babies love to watch patterns and colors, so this toy can keep them occupied for a long time.

Caterpillar—Plush or on Wheels:
The classic caterpillar toy is a longtime favorite for toddlers and young children and gives your 6-month-old a chance to play with different noises, buttons and textures. A colorful plush caterpillar designed with Velcro straps and shoelaces will help babies develop important motor skills, while the caterpillar on wheels can help them develop hand-eye coordination and navigation skills as they begin to move on their own.

Water Mat: Water mats are typically filled with gel-like substances, swirling toys, glitter and other objects that may keep your 6-month-old mesmerized for hours. Water mats can help babies distinguish between different shapes and colors while helping them develop their tactual skills as they learn to press and push certain areas of the mat to create different effects.

Bottle Sets: From soda bottles to shampoo and bath collections, a set of different-sized bottles can develop your baby’s matching skills and improve manual dexterity. Give your baby large, smooth bottles so that she can develop her natural grip and become comfortable with holding and carrying objects. Remove the lids and thoroughly clean and rinse the bottles before giving them to your baby.

Plush Picnic Basket and Food Sets: Toys designed to imitate food and other everyday objects can help babies become familiar and comfortable with the world around them, and plush picnic baskets filled with imitation food and picnic supplies are great toys to start with. Your baby can learn to distinguish between different shapes, textures and colors while engaging in creative play.
————
Sabah Karimi is an experienced freelance writer who enjoys writing about lifestyle, parenting, and childhood education topics. Sabah runs a web copywriting and marketing consultancy business in Orlando, Florida.


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Baby Stimulation Games


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December 12, 2008


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Games and activities that encourage infants to use several senses at once can develop fundamental listening, communication, social and creative skills. Infant stimulation activities such as playing music, introducing new colors and shapes and playing with toys that make different sounds and noises can pique an infant’s interest and encourage him to interact with his environment. Stimulating games encourage healthy learning and development. Here are some activities and games that introduce learning and education in the early stages of life.

Baby Massage
Babies are incredibly sensitive to touch, and a massage will help them become relaxed and comfortable in their environment. Infant massage also can improve body awareness and bond them with the parent or caregiver giving the massage. Over time, this activity may improve social interaction and help babies develop basic communication skills.

Playing With Puppets
Introducing colorful sock puppets and other toys that “talk” can develop an infant’s focus and tracking skills and may also distract him from crying or fussy periods. Puppets can improve social interactions and encourage babies to practice different facial expressions. Adding music or funny voices and sounds to the activity develops an infant’s listening skills.

Reading at Bath Time
Playing with bath books and colorful, waterproof toys while bathing can develop a baby’s body awareness and improve his listening and language skills. Bath time can be a fun and stimulating activity, but it also relaxes the baby for a good night’s rest. Introducing different toys to the tub and encouraging your baby to interact with you in various activities also improves communication and social skills.

Color and Light Activities
A nightlight that emits colorful images onto the wall and plays soothing music encourages the baby to become comfortable with different sights and sounds in his environment, and may also increase his natural curiosity. Nightlights that play scenes from a storybook or that feature animated characters with whom the baby is familiar can stimulate memory and learning.

Playing With Colorful Blocks
Soft blocks and other toys in different colors and patterns can improve visual skills and encourage the infant to interact with new and interesting objects. Blocks can be stacked on top of each other as a building activity, which can help baby understand space and structure, or the blocks may be held and passed around to encourage social interaction. As the infant develops motor skills, she may be able to match same-color blocks and build her own miniature walls and structures.


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Baby Learning Games


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December 12, 2008


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Introducing infants to stimulating activities and educational games can develop language, communication, social and motor skills and also stimulate learning and creativity. Babies who are exposed to various games and activities at an early age also may develop a stronger memory, improve hand-eye coordination skills and establish healthy bonds with family members and siblings. Interacting with different toys and becoming comfortable with a wide range of sensory experiences can help infants mature at a healthy rate. Playing simple games with your baby can enhance learning.

Playing With Balls
Squishy, plush and fuzzy toys, such as balls and small pillows, can strengthen important muscles and build several motor skills. Balls can be rolled back and forth across the floor, tossed around the baby’s crib or just held in a baby’s hands as a fun and educational activity.

Music and Sound Games
Singing, dancing and clapping to music are activities that increase motor development and develop acute auditory and listening skills. Babies typically are receptive to new sounds, rhythms and voices, and they can imitate certain movements at an early age. Singing silly songs and nursery rhymes, clapping to music on the radio and listening to a soothing CD effectively encourage healthy development.

Peek-a-Boo
This simple activity can teach infants to understand that certain objects still exist even when they are not visible. This fundamental concept develops babies’ awareness in their surroundings and teaches them to respond to social cues. Babies also may be able to differentiate between different expressions with this game, and they may laugh or giggle during the activity while establishing an emotional bond with their playmates.

Word Games
Repetition is the best way for babies to learn new sounds and to recognize words that describe certain objects. Using a playful voice to point out different objects in the environment will help the infant remember those objects and develop language and speech early in their toddler years. The repetition of words and sounds also makes babies more comfortable in their surroundings.

Pop-up Books and Puppet Games
Reading a pop-up book gives the baby a chance to listen to a parent or caregiver’s soothing voice as she tells the story. The baby also will be entertained by the colorful pictures and objects throughout the book. Puppet games that also tell a story encourage playful interaction and shared emotional expressions. They also help the infant become more attentive and responsive to stimuli.


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Music Activities for Babies


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December 12, 2008


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Introducing babies to different sounds, noises and styles of music can develop their auditory skills and improve their attention spans. Infants can recognize different sounds at a very early age, and exposure to music between birth and age 6 can develop a child’s affinity for certain types of music. Musical activities, such as singing, humming and moving around to the beat of various types of music, also can develop basic motor, social and communication skills in infants.

Kindermusik
Kindermusik incorporates music and movement for early childhood development and education, and classes are structured around listening, singing and playing games that involve sound and music. The “Village” class establishes basic listening and movement skills for babies up to 18 months.

Watching a Puppet Performance
Puppet shows and other forms of live entertainment that involve singing, dancing and moving to different music and sounds can introduce a baby to different styles of music. Live shows also provide sensory stimulation, such as bright lights, colors and a new atmosphere. Any shows that encourage the baby to sing along, clap and move to the beat will help the infant become more comfortable with different sensory experiences and develop an appreciation for different types of sounds, noises and rhythms.

Toys That Play Music
Plush toys that make sounds or play a song when pressed, or bedtime toys, such as night lights and globes that play melodies, develop babies’ listening skills and increase their attention spans. Introducing babies to different types of toys that play music develops numerous sensory skills and encourages them to play, socialize and participate to enjoy various sensory experiences.

Making Music
Making sounds and music with toys and musical instruments develops motor skills, hand-eye coordination and the ability to differentiate between different notes. Playing with musical instruments may also develop a sense of cause and effect which helps babies explore new games and activities as they grow.

Watching Television Programs With Music
Educational television programs such as “Sesame Street” and “Blue’s Clues” that involves singing and dancing can introduce different styles of music to the infant’s environment. Programs that encourage babies to participate by clapping their hands to the beat or singing also develop motor and social skills.

Sabah Karimi is an experienced freelance writer who enjoys writing about lifestyle, parenting, and childhood education topics. Sabah runs a web copywriting and marketing consultancy business in Orlando, Florida.


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Activities to Stimulate a Babys Development


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December 12, 2008


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Whether you’re a first-time mother or a father of four, learning what you can do to stimulate your baby’s development should be a priority.

The Human Face: The symmetry, movement and contrast of your baby’s favorite faces offer much to observe and learn from. Spend plenty of face-to-face time smiling, opening and closing your eyes and sticking out your tongue. Your baby will watch at first, and then try to imitate you—a fun game for everybody.

Conversations With Baby: Talking to your baby as you go about your daily chores, explaining what you’re doing and giving a play-by-play of your routines engages your child in the world around her and exposes her to language. This interaction provides early steps to talking and eventually reading.

New Experiences: Take your baby to the grocery store, parks, museums, malls and just outside for walks. As babies engage in the world, the new experiences give them a framework to create order and make sense of what they see. The more they see and experience, the easier it will be to provide structure.

Read Aloud: You can’t overestimate the value of reading to your child. Not only does your baby benefit from hearing your voice and being close to you, reading also stimulates communication skills that will eventually develop a stronger vocabulary. The Pokies Pokies American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading every day to your child, starting at 6 months to kick-start these benefits. Reading before 6 months provides wonderful bonding experiences for you and your baby.

The Mozart Effect: This theory states that listening to classical music enhances mental functioning, and it has also been touted as a way to stimulate your baby’s brain. Music itself—classical or not—helps babies see patterns, organize thoughts and make order out of the world. Many schools now use ETM—Education Through Music—to provide kids with different ways to engage in learning with much success; they also may derive enjoyment out of simply listening and eventually singing.

A Nurturing Environment: The single best thing you can do to stimulate your baby’s development is to provide her with a nurturing environment that is rich with opportunities to explore and engage. Babies must investigate the world around them while knowing they are loved and safe, and that their needs will be met. Given these opportunities, your baby will thrive.

Lara Alspaugh is a freelance writer living in Michigan. She is a Registered Nurse and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from Michigan State University. Her writing has been found in parenting and fitness magazines nationwide and the Internet, addressing health and fitness as well as wellness concerns of families.


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