Detailed Information on Babies' Development and Games to Play with Them!
September 13, 2016 12:21 PM   Subscribe

I have a relatively new baby (almost ten weeks old) and she is amazing! I didn't think a baby would be this much fun! I'm looking for very detailed (ideally week by week) information on how she is developing and what games I can play with her that we will both find enjoyable ("games" defined very broadly e.g. "watching her eyes track a moving object" and "trying to grasp something with her tiny paw" both count as games for these purposes).

I'm not worried about her development (she seems to be fine and her pediatrician has confirmed this), I just very much enjoy watching her learn new skills and I'm looking for resources that will give me suggestions for activities that will really help me see what's happening with her in all areas (communication, vision, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, hearing/understanding, whatever).

Ideally I'd like lists available on the internet instead of in book form but if a book is really worth getting please include it (I have What to Expect: The First Year and it's been an excellent resources for many things).

Help me play with my baby in fun, developmentally appropriate ways that show me how she is learning and growing!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl to Education (17 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
What's Going on in There? by Lise Eliot is one I've seen recommended.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:25 PM on September 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

You might enjoy this earlier question.
posted by bimbam at 12:32 PM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Wonder Weeks was a book (and app!) I found entertaining when Junior Lorensen was a wee babe. It basically posits that most babies go through certain neurological leaps at set points in their development, which are often accompanied by periods of fussiness. Confirmation bias? Probably! But it helped me get through the rough times and was an interesting insight into baby brains.
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:36 PM on September 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

I don't think that it has week-by-week, but hands down it's one of the best parenting books I have ever read (and recommended to my clients as a therapist working with very young children. The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland. Looking it up on Amazon, it also looks like they just released an updated second edition in July! Which I will definitely be buying. Its tagline is something like, "how today's brain science can help you raise a happy and healthy child." I use it with parents all the time, and really took a lot from it about development of tiny people.

It is really more about the understanding/attachment/emotional/social side of things more than physical, but it is really helpful and detailed about why babies/small people do the things they do and supports a parent in being able to respond to promote growth.

I would say it's definitely worth the money.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 12:37 PM on September 13, 2016

Babycenter will send you weekly emails with lots of really on-point developmental & stuff to do info (though obviously since not every baby develops identically some stuff will be ahead and some behind).
posted by brainmouse at 12:48 PM on September 13, 2016

Baby's Owner Manual Got this for a new Dad as a gag gift. But it turns out it's full of games you can play with your kid broken down by age and developmental leve. He said it was great whenever he was stuck on how to entertain the baby. It's
posted by edbles at 12:57 PM on September 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Experimenting with Babies!
posted by olinerd at 1:25 PM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

I like the Mayo Clinic Guide to Your Baby's First Year - its straightforward and has chapters on each month, including developmentally appropriate games and activities.

Though it may be pretty redundant to the What to Expect book you have.
posted by vunder at 1:26 PM on September 13, 2016

Seconding The Wonder Weeks. We found our little one's development followed the phases in the book pretty closely. The authors suggest games and activities for each of the developmental leaps, though we mostly read it to check whether our baby's fussy phases were expected.
posted by liebchen at 2:06 PM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

All the mail-order catalogues you were probably deluged with once the infant-industrial complex got wind of your pregnancy are great things to look at together if they have pictures of babies and little kids. Time magazine will also do -- they really like to look at faces, and especially at faces of other wee ones.
posted by kmennie at 2:09 PM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm going to take the opposing view here and say that what you want may not exist, as it's what I wanted, and I didn't find it. I was disappointed in one way or another with many of the suggestions above. For instance, What's Going On In There? has a lot of information about the development of the senses, etc., from prenatal to long after birth, but it was too long for me to read and also not oriented enough to time or how you as a parent should interact with this information. (Either that, or I in my sleep-deprived state, could not figure it out.) I had high hopes for it, but I gave up on reading it that much information. If you are better than I was at reading books while parenting a young baby, it might help you.

The Baby Owner's Manual has a total of 5 (small) pages on toys and games, so if you already know of toys and games like black and white images, those activity mat / baby gym things, playing music and dancing together, a mobile... then you probably know 90% of what it contains.

The Mayo Clinic Guide is month-by-month and has a lot of helpful information, so I'd place that on the better half of the spectrum, but it's not solely focused on development and activities, and I didn't really find it very useful in terms of recommending activities during the three months I was keeping up with it. It's worth owning, but it's not the silver bullet here either.

Of the things I read, Wonder Weeks was the closest to exactly what you're looking for. It is really helpful and insightful, and it's a quick read, so I'd recommend getting that. It's particularly good when babies are small, when a lot of other options are not good. And it does have some (not that many) specific activities, so you really come to feel that you know what's going on and how to support it.

Another one to check out is The Complete Resource Book for Infants. Tons of games, songs, chants, activities -- all organized by e.g., "gross motor skills," "fine motor skills," "sense of hearing." The issue there is that the age categories are very broad ("0-6 months" was the youngest, I believe), and I did not find many that were good for tiny babies (and it was hard to look for them, due to the aforementioned tiny baby). There were a few, and more and more as the baby grows up. Now that my baby is six months old, I'm looking forward to re-reading it.

While I'm at it, here are two more that came up in my google and Amazon searches but don't do what you're asking: The Whole-Brained Child and Brain Rules for Baby. Both are useful guides to the science, with some interesting facts. (Talk to your baby. Allow time for preschoolers to do imaginative play. If you have a fight with your partner in front of your child, have the "make up" conversation in front of your child.) But they are light on activities and age-specific details. Great books, but also not what you're seeking. Good luck!
posted by slidell at 2:57 PM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

BabySparks! The app you want is BabySparks. It's technically a free app, but you need to spend a bit (maybe $10? not much) to get all of the activities unlocked. The app describes the various areas of development underway based on the month you're in (gross motor, speech, sensory, etc. etc.) and then gives you a list of activities to do with your baby today to further development in those various areas. My baby is 14 weeks, and our ten activities today are:

- Gripping Your Fingers (gross motor)- have baby hold your fingers and move arms in different directions
- Rolling (gross motor)- introducing rolling from back to tummy
- Improving Grip (gross motor)- have baby hold onto a ring or small bar and move the object from side to side
- Grasping & Seeing an Object (cognitive)- increase the ability to combine actions by helping baby learn to look at what she's grasping
- Family Serenade (speech)- mom & dad both sing the same song to baby after each other so baby hears different voices' timbre/tone/movement
- Noisy Wrists (sensory)- fasten small rattle to baby's hand to let him discover he can make sound by moving his hand
- Recognizing Hands (sensory)- drawing attention to baby's hands to help him study them
- Follow the Light (sensory)- using flashlights to stimulate visual focus
- Exposure to Textures (sensory)- trying out touching different fabrics
- Introducing New People (social)- letting a friend hold the baby and explain what's happening to the baby.

So, yeah. Some of the activities are things I was already doing, and some are sort of lame, and I'm sure the baby would develop all of these without the fancy daily app plan - but it gives me concrete things to do to entertain the kiddo in a developmentally appropriate way, and sometimes you get that super cute aha moment! :) The app has videos showing all of these activities in case you aren't exactly sure what they mean by the description. If an activity is too challenging you can mark it to have it not pop up for a few weeks, and if an activity is too easy you can archive it so that it no longer pops up in your daily activity list. There's also a section within the app that describes the development that's going on within all of these categories, and a list of activities that you should try to incorporate into your day-to-day routines based on your baby's age (for example, imitating baby's sounds to encourage her to make more noise).
posted by Jaclyn at 2:58 PM on September 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

And adding on, I'll second the recommendation for the Wonder Weeks app/book. I've also been pleasantly surprised by the information provided by the TinyBeans app - the app is primarily for sharing kid photos with family members, but there's a section for recording milestones, and links to short articles and tips (and gear they want you to buy, of course) that are age appropriate.
posted by Jaclyn at 3:11 PM on September 13, 2016

Congratulations on your little bundle!

This is a wonderful question and many of the responses provided are great resources. One word of caution, though, that I've experience for myself and seen with other mom-friends of mine: there's a tendency to stress out if your own baby isn't following the developmental timelines outlined in apps or books. It's just important to remember that no two babies develop the same way, and if some of these activities aren't possible because your baby hasn't reached a particular skill level yet, there's no need to fret.

My own little guy is 7 months old now, and oh my goodness! How time has flown by! Enjoy this lovely, lovely first year.
posted by Everydayville at 3:32 PM on September 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

Jerry's Game, the Rick and Morty gag, got turned into an iPhone game that's just popping balloons.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:40 PM on September 13, 2016

Love you CIS but you shouldn't give a baby a cell phone to play with.

Things we have done that are fun with our now 6 month old: Give him a plethora of new objects to manipulate. Give him new sounds to hear (take them to an instrument store for instance, or buy some tiny maracas and other sound makers at a toy store). Let him play with water coming from the faucet. Lying on different carpets and touching different fabrics. Lots and lots of reading of course. And also, imo, letting him be, especially during tummy time or back time to just jangle things and not be hovered over, is helpful.

Just about anything you do that just involves the two of you and some physical objects is developmentally appropriate. So plop em on a skateboard and let em rip! (do not do that).
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:06 AM on September 14, 2016

If we're sharing what caught on with our own little ones, here were some fun activities at our house.

- Shaking a rattle and letting him find the source of the sound
- Smelling things (banana, vanilla)
- Rhythmic books (like Dr. Seuss) and books with babies' faces. (Around 3 months old, I could tell he recognized the very rhythmic book.)
- "Reading" (mostly tearing up) magazines
- Crunching other things that crinkle
- Developing his ability to grip and let go via various toys he could grab
- Helping him stand up (Starting surprisingly young, he'd kick his legs out, and if we gave him support on his bottom, or later if we gave him our fingers to grip, he'd manage to stand)
- Touching the drywall texture
- Looking at books on the shelves
- Going under blankets in a "cave"
- Having stuffed animals "talk" to him
posted by slidell at 12:28 PM on September 14, 2016

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