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Reach for It, Baby! Physical Development Activities for Babies Are the Tops

Photo by Amy Covington / Stocksy / 1569067
Photo by Amy Covington / Stocksy

By Rachel Ward

Seeing your baby reach for a toy or discover their tummy for the first time are some of those heartwarming moments that make parenthood so rewarding! But for infants, achieving those physical milestones isn’t just a walk in the park—it requires constant effort and daily practice. (That’s right, parents, your baby is working out more than you!)

The most astonishing part of this process? Babies figure out movement naturally on their own—and usually at a predictable pace—simply because they become more aware of their surroundings and want to get a better look at objects of interest.

“It’s around the four- or five-month mark that infants begin reaching for items, and by the time they’re seven or eight months old, they’ve figured out how to continually roll themselves to independently move around,” says Sue-Ann Lively from KinderCare’s Education team.

After that, they’re only a stretch and roll away from getting ready to crawl! Here at KinderCare, we don’t just rock babies to sleep and keep them well-fed and loved (although there’s plenty of that going on). We help them reach those important physical milestones, too!

How Sparkly! We Use Fascinating Objects to Help Babies Practice Reaching for Things

Before we hand over intriguing little bottles filled with glittery water, beans, and other interesting objects, we hold them just out of reach of little hands to encourage infants to roll over to reach them. (And don’t worry, we’ve taped the bottles closed to prevent any accidents.)

“The great thing about this activity is that it can be altered depending on the infant’s level of development,” says Lively. “If an infant is just beginning to rock back and forth, the teacher can hold the bottle to the side; if the infant is already able to flip over onto their tummy, the bottle can be held further away so the infant can practice rolling.”

Once the baby’s had their fill of rolling fun, they get the chance to play with the bottles themselves by shaking, rattling, and holding them to explore the sounds and sights they offer.

We’re keeping the learning going all day here at KinderCare, but there’s some easy ways you can do the same at home! Try some of our ideas below.

3 Sweet and Simple Ways to Help Baby Reach Physical Milestones

1. Help them practice “belly dancing”

Tummy time is crucial for infants who are working toward rolling over—it gives them the chance to build strength in their neck and arms as they hold their heads up, and offers a new view of the world! Pique their interest by playing with a favorite toy or offering a new object for them to explore at the same time.

2. Blow some bubbles

Seeing those intriguing spheres floating around them will drive your baby to reach out and try to grab them, which builds arm strength and coordination. (And if they manage to catch one and see it pop, you might be rewarded with a priceless look of astonishment!)

3. Find something your baby loves—and add it to playtime

Some infants are naturally drawn to books or the sensation of different fabrics, while others may love investigating wooden blocks or splashing in water. Whatever seems to enthrall your baby, supply it in spades and urge them to reach, grab, and inch toward it—whatever physical milestone they’re working toward!

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