Is it exercise or just play? Creative movement with your young child is fun and a rewarding experience for both of you. Create an interesting obstacle course. Gather together several towels, small pillows, and stuffed toys on the floor in different sized piles. Now top these with a blanket or a large sheet. Baby will enjoy this new terrain with things to creep around, over, and push off from—a challenging obstacle course for a small person. One of your baby's greatest pleasures will be you imitating his style. So, get down on all fours—your child will take the lead and look to see if you are following. He'll squeal with delight as you chase and follow him around the room. "Here I come; I'm going to catch you!" Don't fail to hug and hold him close after he's been caught.
Your baby delights in mimicking other people's gestures. He can be caught scolding his teddy bear just as you might scold him. You can turn this skill into a hilarious game by playing "Make Me a Silly Face." A mirror will help your little one get the nose wrinkle, wink, or frown just right. You may find him in front of the mirror some days later playing this funny-face game by himself, with a toy, or with a newfound friend.
Infants benefit by having someone sing to them and dance or walk rhythmically while holding them. Babies often move their arms and feet when being swayed to music; later they will be able to feel and move to the beat of the music by themselves.
Even before your child can walk very well, she can begin to make music. Have her sit on the floor and explore the sounds of drumming on pots, pans, and bowls with wooden spoons or other safe household utensils. Children can also be given various musical toys, such as a xylophone, piano, triangle, bells, maracas, drums, and tambourines on which to play. In this way, they begin to learn about the sound of music and, in a very rudimentary way, to create their own music.
Check the recycle bin, sewing box, and drawers for items to make a "see and sound" rattle for your little one. Take a clean plastic water bottle, putting in colorful ribbons, feathers, beads, bells, uncooked rice or pasta. Run a bead of permanent glue along the lid or seal the top securely with duct tape. As your baby shakes this instrument, she can see pretty objects and hear unique sounds.
Here's a game to teach your youngster the difference between up and down. Help your little one raise her body up and up until she is on her tiptoes. Repeat the word, "up, up, up" as you do this movement. Now, have her lower her body to the floor, "down, down, down." Repeat this game as often as your child likes.