Lonette De Vries, a registered occupational therapist in Robertson, has been kind enough to suggest a few developmental exercises you can do with your baby in the first few months of life. Have fun!
Although the text refers to a baby in the male gender, both genders are implied.
0 -3 months of age
Massage must be gentle during the first few weeks. Rub his body gently and smoothly. Rub his back, stomach, arms and legs, as well as trying to open up his hands and fingers. Movements must be slow, gentle and easy.
The baby must lie on his stomach for short periods of time. This will strengthen his back and neck muscles, in order to keep his head up against gravity.
Awareness of objects and sounds
When your baby is lying on his back, hold a toy in his field of vision. Gently move the toy from side to side. The same can be done with rattles, or bells in order to improve his awareness of sounds. He will especially enjoy pictures and toys with black and white colors during the first few weeks of his life.
When your baby is 2 months old, you can encourage him to smile and react to your voice and facial expressions.
3 –Month-old baby
Let your baby lie on his stomach with his arms forward, elbows bent to support himself. You can also place a rolled-up towel underneath his arms to help him maintain this position for a while. Motivate him to lift his head up, by making him aware of a toy or an object. Move the toy from side to side.
Let the baby sit upright for a few seconds while you support him in this position.
Holding onto objects
Place an object in your baby’s hand. He will be able to inspect it and learn more about it. Your baby won’t be able to voluntarily grasp the object, but the grasping reflex will keep the toy in his hand.
Socializing with your baby
Your baby will enjoy observing people interacting with each other. Talk to your baby. Explain to him what you are doing. This will familiarize him with certain words and actions.
Visual field training
Move a toy or object in his visual field while he is lying on his back. This will be encouraging visual tracking and head movement.
Sit down on a chair. Let the baby sit on your knees facing you while you are holding his hands. Tip him slightly sideways. By holding his hands, you will be able to feel his reaction to the activity. You will be able to practice his balancing reaction skills by continuing this activity daily.
Encouraging midline awareness
Bring your baby’s hands together in the midline of his or her body, in front of his eyes. You can clap his hands together playfully.
Let your baby lie on his back. Hold him by his shoulders or hold his hands while you gently pull him upright. DO NOT lift his head from the floor if he cannot bring his head up by himself. He must be able to brace his shoulders and bend his arms when you pull him up.
Place dangling toys within his reach where he can watch them or swipe them with his arms or kicking legs.
Encourage the baby to roll from his back onto his side and back again:
Let the baby lie on his back. Bend his left leg and keep his right leg straight. Move his left leg over his right leg to encourage him to roll towards his right. Roll the baby over from his back to his stomach a few times as well as from his stomach on to his back. Do these exercises on both sides.
The exercises for a 4-month-old baby also apply.
Let your baby lie on his back and place a toy next to him a distance away. Encourage him to reach for the toy by rolling onto his stomach. Help him to roll over to the toy if necessary.
Take weight on standing
Let your baby take weight on his legs by letting him stand for a few seconds by holding him in a standing position.
Bringing into sitting position
Let your baby lie on his back. Pull him upright by holding his hands. Do not lift his head form the floor if he is unable to lift his head by himself.
Lying on top of a beach ball
Let your baby lie on his stomach over a large beach ball. Move him gently from side to side and forwards and backwards. Always support your baby. Observe his reactions. Stop if he feels uncomfortable.
Talk to your baby while dressing and bathing him. Tell him you are rubbing his feet etc. Make him aware of his feet by moving his feet to his hands, encouraging him to grasp his feet.
Expose your baby to different textures e.g. carpet, grass, sand, rubber etc.