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On the Move - Stage-based booklet on development (birth-12 months)

Based on content from ZERO TO THREE®: National Center for Infants, Toddler and Families.

Rocking and Rolling (birth-12 months)
From the moment your baby is born, she connects with you and begins to learn about the world through her body and her movements. As a newborn, she will turn her head when she hears your voice. By 4 months, she will be reaching and grasping to explore and learn how objects work. She will also "talk" to you with her body as she wiggles, bends, and reaches. For example, she'll kick her arms and legs to tell you that she wants you to keep singing to her.

By the end of this first year, your baby will learn to roll, sit up, crawl, pull himself to stand, "cruise" around holding onto objects for support, and perhaps even start to walk. As he experiences his body moving, he will be strengthening his muscles. His new physical abilities will also allow him to master important concepts like cause and effect. "If I shake this rattle, it will make a noise." "If I push up onto my hands and knees, I can crawl to Grandma." By watching your child, you can learn what kinds of movement he likes and how you can best support his development through movement.

Q & A
Q: My 10-month-old is like a little sitting Buddha! He's the only kid in our playgroup who doesn't move around. He just likes to sit and watch. How can I get him moving more?

A: There is wide variation in young children's activity levels. Some crawl and walk early; others do so much later, preferring to explore with their eyes and hands instead of their bodies. It is important to understand and respect your child's ability and interest in movement. The key to getting your child to enjoy moving is to engage him in more action-oriented activities, and to connect these activities with something he already enjoys. For example, if he likes to look at books, read books that encourage movement. You can pretend to move like a dog or swim like a duck. Get on the floor with your child; he will want to move if it means he can play with and be close to you. Place a favorite toy at the end of the room and have a "race" to see who can get to it first. If you continue to be concerned about your baby's ability to move, talk with his doctor.

Movement activities for you and your baby

Tummy Time

Spending time on her belly helps your baby develop coordination between her upper and lower body. This supports her muscle and motor development. Lie down with your baby face-to-face and play "peek-a-boo," pushing your hands against the floor as you lift your head. You can support your baby's chest to encourage her to push up, too. As she gets more comfortable on her stomach, she'll begin to enjoy playing with toys from this position.

Follow the Leader

Watch how your baby moves and listen to the sounds he makes. Use your head, hands, or voice to follow his movements. Speed up and slow down, make your actions stronger or softer, as he does. Babies love to see you imitate them. It makes them feel important.

Dance Together

Put on different types of music and move to the beat with your baby in your arms. Change your actions to match the mood and beat of the music. Many babies like going from being on the floor to way up high. They also like to sway, roll, bounce, clap, stretch, waltz, glide, or turn!

Group Dance

Gather a group of friends together and make a circle. With babies in your arms, step into the middle and back out, gallop around in a circle and back again. Finish by gently swinging babies up high so they can see each other. Babies will love to see the expressions on other children's faces and hear their squeals of delight.