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Movements and Play for the Baby

Spectacular changes in growth and development characterize the first years of life for any living organism. From birth to first steps, it isan exciting and eventfuljourney for both the parents and baby alike. Movement and play are part of natural development in the first years and influences important physical activity, habits and capacities in later years of life.

Physical Growth and Movements in the First Year-
A baby grows quickly during the first year of life. The average full-term baby weighs 3500 grams (seven and a half pounds) and is approximately 50 centimeters in length. Boys and girls differ a little in birth weights, according to the specificculture.
Each baby goes through similar stages of growth and development, in the same order, however the timing and rate at which stages occur can vary a lot among babies.
At first, babies’ movements are involuntary and part of the reflex actions they are born with. At about eight weeks, babies start to move their arms, legs and body purposely, for example, reaching to touch. Lots of time and practice allow babies to develop stronger and more definitive movements, such as grasping objects.

Movement begins with reflexes. Some reflex actions are present at birth and others appear later, in the first few months of life. Reflexes have three main purposes:
I. Survival and safety (sucking for feeding andgrasping)
II. Postural development (the pull to sit response, showing little or no head lag)
III. Development of muscles that are used in movement patterns later in infancy.
Significance of Movements and Play in the First Year of Life-
Play opportunities startfrom birth. This makes baby learn movement, and how to interact with the environment and the people around them. Movement stimulates the senses (such as sight, sound, and touch) and challenges babies to learn new skills and emotions.

Baby’s Play Tips-
• Parents should know that they are the ’best toy’ for their baby.
• Babies respond best to faces (especially their parents’), patterns and strong colors which are more appealing.
• Rhythm and music areimportant for a baby’s development; they help to develop listening skills, language and coordination, and are a good way to encourage playful movements.
• Indoor or outdoor activities can be used for play, as long as the baby is supervised and safe.

Tummy time and floor play for the baby-
‘Tummy time’ can happen any time you carry, position or play with babies while they are on their stomach. Itis important for the development of sensory and movementcontrol and should be formed a part of baby’sdaily routine from a very early age. By the end of the first year of life, the baby will learn about movements of the body and developedstrength, body awareness and the physical skills needed for rolling, grasping, sitting, crawling and standing. For this reason babies need plenty of opportunities to play on their tummy during waking hours.
You can get down on the floor with your baby and place objects and toys around the baby that encourage grasping, leg kicking andhead lifting. ‘Tummy time’ is safe and beneficial when babies are awake and supervised but never put the baby on their tummy to sleep. Always put the baby onthe back to sleep, from birth to prevent SIDS and other sleeping accidents.

Movements Milestones for the Baby-

The first months

The first months of lifeprovide plenty of challenges and lots of excitement and learningfor the baby. Babies willgradually control their bodies and begin to learn the working for different works.
Objects and toys that are textured, colorful, make sounds and are graspable are best for play and movement developments in the first months of a baby’s life.
3 - 4 months
Reaching, finger play, grasping, leg and arm movements, rolling and head lifting are part of the babies’ development from 3 to 4 months of age.

4 - 6 months
A baby’s movement at 4 to 6 months includes rolling, moving forward, pushing the legs, grasping objects, developing stronger head control and developing moods and emotions. At 5 months,a baby can grasp a toy with one hand, and then transfer it to the other. With help, a baby may also be able to lift himself up to a standing position. At 6 months, muscles are often strong enough for the baby to sit, with support. At 4 to 6 months, toys that move, make sound, or vary in pattern, textureand color, are suitable for their play.

7 -8 months

By 7 to 8 months, babies can use creeping,and bottom shuffling as their means of’locomotion’ (moving). At 7 - 9 months, babiesmay also start to crawlproperly. At first, the arms tend to do most of the work, though very soon the baby will be able to move more smoothly and with verylittle effort. Between 7 to 8 months of age, babies may start to support their weight during standing.

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