7 activities to do with your infant {0-6 months}

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby on. Posted in HEALTH, New Mom Experience, VIDEO


Looking back to the early months of Alexis life, one of the hardest things for me ( and my husband even more) was thinking of age-appropriate activities to do with Alexis. I wanted to make sure her awake time counted, that it helped her develop, socially, physically, emotionally, as well as bond and spend as much time interacting with us as she needed at that age. And considering that unlike most newborns, Alexis barely slept during that time, we had A LOT OF awake time to contend with. As I was reading various books on baby development, I was making note of beneficial activities I could do with Alexis that would help her develop as well as create some quality fun time with her, aside from all the typical things you do with a baby.  So I’d like to share with you 5 different non-traditional developmentally beneficial and fun things you could do with your infant.

None of these are “filler” activities, they all help your baby develop an important part of their system. And from experience, babies tend to enjoy them very much.

Please exercise caution and common sense when using these tips.  I am not a physician, or an expert of any sort. These are just the activities I read about and are/were doing with Alexis that I wanted to share. Also keep your baby’s age in mind. It has to be appropriate for your baby’s level of development. I’ll explain how to do it, what it does for a baby’s development and how Alexis liked this particular exercise, but it’s always best to read from the source, because I can’t fit all the valuable information into a short post.

Also feel free to watch the video for examples.

1. Rocking on a beach ball

HOW: Get a beach ball or an exercise ball, deflate it slightly, place your baby on the ball TUMMY DOWN. While supporting him (you can hold his sides, legs or thighs depending on how well he/she can control her body), roll him back and forth and side to side. You can sing or talk at the same time.
WHY: Strengthens the neck, is good for head control, provides muscle tone development. You can do the same but on his back, this helps his balance reflexes to develop as he will slowly tense his tummy muscles to keep himself balanced.

{Alexis: She loved this one from the get go. She’d get her head up high and look around while being rocked. I could see how her core was working trying to stay balanced and how she was figuring out how to move her body in response to the ball. I wasn’t happy about using what appears to be a vinyl ball, but in all my search for non-toxic things, I haven’t found one that isn’t made of vinyl.}

2. KICKING a BALL

HOW: Use the same beach ball to let your little one kick and roll it with her feet. As she gets older she’ll be able to pass it up to her hands and back to her feet. They love the feel of something different on their toes and what baby doesn’t like kicking.
WHY: Babies will learn about their legs and feet and how to move them at will. In addition, these exercises stimulate muscle tone, especailly knee flexibility for later bobbing , climing and walking
{Alexis: at first she didn’t really get what she was supposed to do with the ball, but after she kicked it a few times accidentally, she started getting the idea. Eventually it progressed to her moving it to her hands. It’s definitely a fun acitivity.}

3. Oil leg rub

HOW: Put some olive or vegetable oil on your baby’s inner thighs and while holding her/him by the ankles, GENTLY rub her/his inner thighs together ( back and forth).
WHY: Excerpt from the book: It is “beneficial because it provides sensory input that is familiar to the baby from his experiences in the womb and helps organize his nervous system. It will also facilitate the baby to release [...] any tight hip muscles. Since this is a sensory experience that baby had in the womb, it can be started soon after birth. The main focus of this activity is for baby to relate to skin sensations. If you make eye contact with baby or do this in a high visually stimulating environment, such as under a mobile, the baby’s nervous system may pay more attention to the visual input than the skin input. [...] This activity only lasts a minute and afterwards smiles, praise and songs would be great.”
{Alexis: You could see the “newness” of the feeling in her eyes when we first started it. I haven’t done it as much as I should, but the few times that I did do it, it was kind of fun to watch her reaction.}

4. Tub/Pool Play

One way around the whole “no swimming till 6 months” issue (see why) was to get a kiddie pool and let her splash there. But believe it or not, it took me THIS LONG to find a kiddie pool that wasn’t made out of PVC or with Phthalates (I’ll be writing about why it’s important and listing items that I found that don’t contain either). At some point I gave up the search after calling and emailing numerous companies that sell/manufacture baby pools and striking out. And then finally, I FOUND IT! A pool made out of polyester and with a pop up shade, to boot! Ta-da! So today (7/17) we’ll be filling it up and having some fun time. Alexis loves splashing and playing in the water and I am sure spending more time doing it will foster her love for water activities. You can also do the same in a bathtub, but with a baby who does doesn’t reliably sit up yet, you’d have to get into it, as well, since it can be very slippery.

Alexis seems to really love touching running water. I assume that the sensation of strong pressure is new for her and is something she likes to explore, so I often get into a tub and let the water run for her to grab (see video). It’s especially useful after she has had some food (we are doing BLW), because she usually needs a bath at that point. She often accidentally splashes water into her eyes, at which point I laugh and make fun sounds to show her that it’s not scary. Though she still look to me for reassurance when it happens, she’s become quite adventurous with water.

5. Leg support crawl

HOW: This one is a bit of a no-brainer if you ask me, but it was and still is a very important part of our day. From about 2 months of age ( it might have been 3 months, I don’t exactly remember), Lexi would make swimming movements whenever she’d get put on her tummy. She wanted to move and crawl. We would naturally place our palms to her feet so that she had some support to push off of and she’d be happy to move forward. It’s still something that we do on daily basis, as she whines and whines until she feels some support and can scoot forward. Once she starts crawling this will no longer be needed, but for the time being it helps her feel like she is getting somewhere. {see video}

WHY: Repetitive movement on the floor, forward or backward, stimulates the neurons in the brain to interconnect.

6. Infant massage

HOW: Some literature suggests that doing infant massage or deep pressure massage three times a day is optimal, however most recommendations are at least once a day which I think is more manageable. According to some books, if your baby seems uncomfortable during the massage, you need to do it frequently and very slowly, stopping as soon as the baby fusses. The irritability,according to Building Babies Better, comes from lack of total understanding of the sensation from the prenatal experience. Obviously, do not do deep pressure on the abdomen, and biceps and calves seem to be sensitive ( or better yet read a book about Infant massage).
I showed a few simple techniques in the video below, but it’s really about you touching the baby and showing the love. Some books recommend concentrating on the massage and not interacting with your baby, I choose to talk to her and sing to her, because to me it’s as much about bonding as it is about the massage. Doing it after a bath is usually easiest, but it’s important not to rush through it. Also, try cheek massage, Alexis loves that part. Since they use those muscles to suck milk, they need an occasional massage.

WHY:  It is well known and researched what amazing benefits infant massage produces for babies. A few proven benefits that are worth mentioning are: higher IQ, healthier digestion, improved weight gain, improved immune system (in a study of babies whose mothers gave them back massages at 10 weeks, there was a lower incidence of colds and diarrhea four months later), better sleep, enhanced muscle tone and coordination, more developed sensory awareness, better ability to handle stress, better bonding, self soothing, self-esteem, etc. Massage is very effective to do before a floor activity. It helps them use their muscles more efficiently afterwards.

For very small babies:

7. Leg Twist

HOW: You take your Little One’s legs and swing them to the side. Pause, then swing them to the other side. Take care not to twist them too much or make it too abrupt or scary. Basically, follow your baby’s cues. Of course, it’s always important to talk or sing to them while doing that.

WHY: Rocking stimulates the organs of muscle tone and balance as well as strengthens them. Poor muscle tone frequently equals poor coordination, as the body parts cannot put movements together. Helps your infant learn about different types of movements. Vestibular activities like this one are “essential for the inhibition of the primitive reflexes and the development of balance. Vestibular sensations are vital for posture, movement, and a sense of position in space , motion, depth and self.”

Alexis still loves this activity and smiles/laughs every time I do it.

You can see the video for examples of these acitivies

{in the first 3 activities Alexis is 3 months old, the rest are recent}:

 



Sources:
Some of these activities, along with explanations and some quotes were taken from the following books: Active Baby Healthy Brain  and Building Babies Better. For a list of all the books I recommend, please visit the books section.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN OTHER POSTS, FEEL FREE TO VISIT THE FOLLOWING PAGES:

NEW BABY POSTS (SAFE TOYS, BABY CLASSES, BEST PRODUCTS, BABY LED WEANING, VACCINATIONS, ETC)

NEW MOM POSTS ( BREASTFEEDING JOURNEY, BEST APPS FOR NEW MOMS, MOMMY PHOTOGRAPHY, POSTPARTUM, PARENTING DUTY, PP BODY, CLOTH DIAPERING)

PREGNANCY POSTS (HERB SAFETY, SAFE PREGNANCY, ULTRASOUND DECODED, GENDER PREDICTION, BELLY PROTECTION, TRIMESTER RECAPS, BIRTH STORY, ETC)

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Comments (69)

  • Tara

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    This makes me so excited to do for my baby!! I hit 17 week mark on Saturday, and I just can’t wait until I get to meet my baby!! Is that common? I am trying to enjoy my pregnancy, but all of a sudden Sunday I woke up so excited to meet my little baby! :)

    Reply

  • Rachell

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    What is the name of the pool that you found?

    Reply

    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      I don’t remember now. I’ll post it when I have a chance to look it up. Im linking to it in the next post on Wednesday (in case I don’t get around to replying before then)

      Reply

  • Anna

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    Alexis is so cute. I just want to remind you that the most important activity for newborns is sleep. Sleeping is where their brain develops and that’s what helps them to be “better.” Overstimulating your child and trying to keep her up as long as possible to “build a better baby” does not help her to sleep and instead, they never want to sleep because they are overtired. In turn, their brains do not develop. As a baby, you need to remember that she will grow up and you will have a lot of time to spend with her, so it’s important that you encourage her to sleep as much as possible especially during the 0-3 mos range. There are many studies which show the amount of time slept as a newborn correlates to how smart that person is. Just remember this for your second child, 50 minutes of awake time is as much as they need in the newborn days.

    Reply

    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      I didn’t say they shouldn’t sleep. I am talking about activities when they are awake. Besides most of these activities are more suited for older babies, not newborns.

      Alexis never had a newborn sleepy stage. She was always on needing to see and move around. So every baby is different and has different needs and thresholds.

      Reply

    • Marsha

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      hahahaha! Wow. I really wish someone would have told my newborn daughter that. She also did not have a newborn sleepy stage, and trust me, I encouraged it as much as possible! She never slept more than 15min at a time during the day for the first year, and slept about 8 hours a night (with a wake up or two to eat). As to her lack of sleep impeding her cognitive development? Well, she is 10 years old now and gifted (like, officially tested and everything.)

      There is a wide, wide range of “normal” in babies, and what one study concludes doesn’t always apply for every baby ever born.

      Reply

  • Ana O

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    She is such a cutie! I love both of your interactions with her. :) Good job you two!

    Reply

  • Ori

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    She is so cute!!! Have to buy a beachball :-)

    Reply

  • Heidi

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    Do you do anything with Alexis that isn’t for a developmental purpose? It’s important for babies to get some unscripted, just-for-fun time with mommy and daddy.

    Reply

    • Willow

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      Yeah, cause obviously Alexis is all, “Aww, man, I’m so sick of this developmental water-playing and beach-balling. Why can’t we just have fun??” :p

      Reply

  • Lara

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    Two helpful sites:

    http://www.productiveparenting.com/

    You can sign up to receive a daily activity that is geared towards your child’s age. Some are totally “duh” ones that you do, some are silly or seem dumb, but many of them are, “Oh, great idea, why didn’t I think of that??”

    http://playathomemom3.blogspot.com/

    Tons of great activities. Many are geared towards older kids but there are plenty for babies. Look at her FB page for whole albums full of ideas.

    Reply

  • Holly

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    Hi, I have been reading your blog for about a month now, I ran into a mention of it on another site. Anyways, I really like your style, you clearly put parenting top on your priority list and work hard to give your daughter the best. I have read most of your past posts and check every day for more! I don’t have a baby (I just recently adopted a 5 year old) but am planning on trying for a baby shortly. I just find your honesty refreshing, and the fact that you share everything about raising a baby, not just the stuff that makes you look good lol, like on other sites. Alexis is beautiful and lucky to have such a great family, and you are lucky to have her!. So anyways, Thanks for the blog and keep up the great work! :)

    Reply

    • Inna

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      I totally agree! Keep up the great work u do

      Reply

  • Elena C.

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    I’m always curious how you manage to do all those activities with Lexi, involving the developing ones and fun ones, all the important ones :) Like are there must-dos listed in the baby development books?

    Reply

    • Elena C.

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      Oh and the massage part of the video is sooooo cute! It looks like you’re kneeding some soft dough to make sweet buns :)

      Reply

    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      No there aren’t any must dos, mostly because babies are so different and they develop on their own even if you don’t do any activities.
      But as I read through books I try to make a note of things that appeal to me or make sense or are fun. Most mainstream books only have super obvious ideas like peek-a-boo, it’s usually the specialized books that give you smth out of the box. Then we try them and some stick others don’t and I forget about some.

      Reply

  • Lorraine

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    I am so going to be trying these out with Amelia!! They all look like great fun. Just have to say what amazing parents you both are, Alexis is one lucky little girl!

    Reply

  • Terra Cotta Momma

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    My almost three year old still loves her massages, she asks for them every night before bed!

    Reply

      • Terra Cotta Momma

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        Oh my daughter loves them, it is one of the few things that help her sleep! She isn’t great at calming her self down so having it as a tool really helped me… her favorite massage involves her face and ears… that one has put her to sleep before. Love it!

        Reply

  • Tawny

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    My kids loved the video. They chuckled the whole time shouting, “what a cutie cutie baby!”

    Reply

  • gvk

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    Just wondering, does that beach ball have PVC or Phthalates in it?

    Reply

  • em

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    And don’t forget the most important activity to do with your baby: just taking time to cuddle them and stare at all the tiny details of their wee little bodies! All mamas and dads know how to do this, of course, but we get so caught up in and obsessive over making sure our babies are the brightest and best and developing ahead of or right smack dab on schedule, we get so stressed over doing everything perfectly that we forget to take time and just stare at our marvelous kiddo, to just waste an hour memorizing the curl of their ear or the shimmer of their baby fine hair.
    Relax and enjoy that beautiful baby of yours!

    Reply

  • Momma

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    Love the video and Lexi’s sweetness! On another note, I find it silly that people feel like they need to tell you to love your baby. Duh. You wouldn’t be doing all of this stuff if you didn’t. Also, the nature of your blog is largely instructive/informative…so, as you mentioned, you don’t need to write specifically about loving on your baby. Random, off topic, question, I noticed in the video that you and your hubby don’t wear wedding rings. Is there a (Russian) cultural reason for this or just personal preference? My dad is eastern European and doesn’t wear a ring.

    Reply

    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      We mostly stay home and it’s easier to just keep them off (I don’t like wearing jewelry to bed), so when we go somewhere we tend to forget to put them on.
      We don’t assign any special meaning to the rings, we both feel that we don’t need to wear the rings to feel connected or married.
      Though once in a while one of us will put their ring out of our jewelry drawer and go “aawww, we should wear them more often” :) lol

      Russians by the way wear them on the opposite hand.

      Reply

  • Tamera

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    How do you both afford to stay home all the time. Does you hubby not work?

    Reply

      • Momma

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        What do you both do? You mentioned before that you’d be writing about how you both trade off working from home. Do you still plan on writing that post? I like seeing how different people parent :)

        Reply

  • christine

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    what a cutie pie! i just want to cuddle her all day long! you’re so lucky to have a very beautiful baby! you should make more! knowing that you and your husband have a very perfect combination of genes! i have two boys and your baby just makes me want to have a girl that bad! i know this is out of the topic here, but aren’t you a little bit worried that she might need to diet for a very early stage in her life? knowing that she is that heavy(based from you previous posts). I know for a fact that babies who are overweight have higher risk for diabetes, etc. also some babies are delayed in movements due to their heavy size. they get tired easily and walking can be at risk. I’m just a little bit concerned for your angel. Well, I know that you know what you’re doing. Good job! Keep it up!

    Reply

    • Momma

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      If she were stuffing her baby with unhealthy food, then maybe she should be concerned…but she’s doing demand feeding which means that her baby is just right :) Healthy babies that young can’t really overeat…they get just as much as they need. Our job as parents is not to determine when or how much they eat…babies know that better than us :) If her baby stays overly large as a toddler (when she will be eating primarily solids), then maybe she’ll have something to worry about. Until then, she’s just getting exactly as much as she needs.

      Reply

      • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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        I wasn’t even going to respond to that part of the comment. It’s so silly.
        She’s perfectly proportionate being 97 percentile for both height and weight. If her weight and height were in a significantly different percentile AND I was formula feeding, then id be concerned.
        THERE’S no such thing as an overweight BFed baby.

        Reply

    • Tawny

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      Seriously. Who would even say something like that???? It’s a freakin baby!!!! I quit.

      Reply

  • Betsy's momma

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    I’m all about trying new activities but lubing her up with olive oil sounds pretty gross.
    I wander which of these activities Eisten’s mom thought to have helped attribute to him delevop his theory of relativity?? I guess what I am saying is everyone has a sales pitch for what’s best for your baby. But in the end it doesn’t matter all that much. As long as we provide the basics of a loving environment, lots of support, and nutritious food that is far more important than anything that can be done with a PVC-free, phalate-free beach ball.

    Reply

    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      Actually the olive oil is fun.

      But agree on the rest. Like I said in one Comment, babies will develop on their own. But these activities provide fun new experiences while helping them developmentally.
      Einstein is really a bad example btw. Most of these activities don’t have anything to do with intelligence. A baby this small is working on its gross skills and balance. These won’t make your baby a genius, they will simply help you have more varied activities with your kid.
      Besides, Einstein might have been a genius in one field but it didn’t make him a genius in all aspects of life. From what I know he was a little strange, very antisocial, and I can bet not very skilled physically.

      Reply

  • Anna

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    Thanks for the tip with ball rolling! We’ve tried it today with pilates ball (I was rolling him towards me) and we had so much fun :) Also thanks to the person who posted link to he Productive Parenting site!

    Reply

  • Katherine

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    How fun! Those are all activities that I haven’t seen as the “norm” before. I love the rocking on the beach ball, that’s a great idea. Her reaction to the tub is so cute!
    Is the supporting to crawl something that is helping her learn how to crawl? I realize that might sound dumb, but it seems like she’s quite advanced for her age (which is wonderful!) and I’m wondering if she’s starting to crawl or get up on all fours yet. I think you might have posted about her crawling, since I remember those cute little knee pads, but I wasn’t sure if she was full on crawling.
    As far as the oil massage, could you use some essential oils (I’m thinking lavender, etc)? Or are those not recommended for newborns?

    Reply

    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      I know helping her crawl does one important thing: helps her manage her frustration at not being able to move, gives her some forward motion. It probably does encourage her to crawl, though it’s not my intention.

      And to be completely honest I don’t know what’s advanced and what’s not since I have never had any other babies so everything she is doing is normal to me. The video where she is support crawling she’s 3 months old. I don’t know if most babies want to crawl at that age (sorry for not being helpful).
      She seems to master skills right on time, but maybe starts practicing it a bit early.

      Finally, essential oils aren’t recommended for babies. In general you gotta be careful with them. After three months i would use a massage oil that contains essential oil but they are properly diluted and meant for babies.

      Reply

  • Lindsay

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    I’ve quietly stalked your blog for a while now and was watching the video with my 15 mo. old son last night. He loved watching Lexi! He also started dancing like nobody’s business to the music you set the movie to. Today I pulled it up again to see if he would react to the video the same way. When I asked him where the baby was, he would point at the screen at Lexi and start smiling and clapping for her! We both loved the video!

    Reply

  • Kayla

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    My baby has been doing #5 since her first week… From the get go, she’s always tried to use her legs to crawl up our chest, she’s now just over a month a has been including her arms more. Love this post & will definitely have to try these things :)

    Reply

  • Liz

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    What a great site you have! Thank you for not only taking the time to explain everything thoroughly but to also include a video! I also try to avoid exposure to chemicals and toxins as much as possible and appreciate your take on the topic. It’s not always possible or necessary to avoid everything “dangerous” but it’s nice to be able to eliminate some potential dangers.

    Reply

  • Jessica

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    What about “tummy time”?? How long a day should a newborn be spending on their tummy? I have a 3 week old and am worried I am overstimulating him with too much activity because he has trouble going to sleep after his wake time. I am trying to follow Babywise and the sleep/eat/waketime schedule. Do you have any advice? I am also writing a blog for new mommas :) I would love for you to check it out and offer any kind of advice!

    http://www.littlebabystevenson.wordpress.com

    Reply

  • Kelsey

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    Thank you so much for this list of activities! I have a little guy who has just started being interested in things other than eating and snuggles. Great ideas for us to do together! :-)

    Reply

  • Rachael

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    Omg your baby is my baby’s double!!!
    He names elsa she’s 25 weeks!!

    Reply

  • Esmeralda

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    I just my first baby boy. He was six weeks early but he was big and healthy. Thank goodness! I read that sometimes preemies are delayed but my son isn’t. I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed reading your blog and can’t wait 6 more weeks to start doing the activities you posted with him. Thank you!

    Reply

  • Amanda

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    Oh I was just smiling & giggling, she is so adorable!!! Thank you for the ideas, cant wait to try them on my little one when she wakes up!

    Reply

  • Noa

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    Thank you for posting this! New to your blog. I’m shocked at all the critical posts. I’ve been a nanny to nb-12 month old babies for a several years now and I loved this post. Of course a baby needs snuggles, love, sleep and down time. That’s easy to figure out on your own. But babies have full days to spend doing stuff and I’d rather have a happy entertained well tended to baby than a cranky bored unstimulated baby. And finally you came to the board with some fresh ideas to entertain both of us because one can only play peek-a-boo so many times. (Not to discredit the importance of peek-a-boo!!) Babies are smart and busy creatures. Even if they’re only awake for 10 minutes at a time. Not all caretakers need to sit and memorize every curl on our baby to make him the happiest. Sometimes they wanna roll on a ball and giggle. :)

    Reply

    • April

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      My thoughts exactly Noa! I appreciate the ideas for things to do with my little one during the time he’s awake. Moms should be supporting each other in our efforts to do the best for our babies, not criticize the writer for supposedly discouraging sleep, cuddle time etc (not to mention comments about the baby’s weight). So thanks Elena from a new Mom!

      Reply

      • Kyle

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        I would just like to hop on this bandwagon and say I totally agree too with April and Noa. Unfortunately some mothers are convinced that only they know the right way to parent and insist on pushing it on everyone else. As a young mum I find people offering their ‘advice’ to me all the time and so I tend to avoid most mother and baby groups as they are full of them. sites and information like this help me to play with my baby without having to feel patronised…thanks Elena!

        Reply

  • Noa

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    Also thank you Alexis for demonstrating!

    Reply

  • sadie

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    Do you use a PVC free beach ball?
    Where did you find it?

    Reply

    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      I realized that this ball must have been made of PVC a few days after I started using it and we discarded it.
      I have NOT been able to find a beach ball that is PVC free, though I think Pottery Barn makes phthalate free ones. :(

      Reply

  • Jen

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    So excited to try the assisted crawl my baby cries during tummy time and so far the only way I get her to stay on her tummy is by rocking her on my balance ball. Maybe this will be something that works for her. First I’ve heard of it

    Reply

  • To All the Parents with Babies | Willow and Birch

    |

    [...] Exercise. I found a great link thanks to Pinterest titled Seven Activities to Do with your baby 0-6 months. It’s a short list with descriptions and video showing how to work with your infant to help [...]

    Reply

  • Maja

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    You have no idea how grateful I am for what you’ve done with this blog! I reference things so much now that I have a 4 week old DD. How old is Lexi In this video?
    Thanks again for all you do! You’re an amazing mom

    Reply

    • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby

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      Thank you, Maja! :)))

      Lexi’s age varies in each clip, but for the ball one and crawling I seem to remember her being 3 months old.

      Reply

  • Tiff

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    Thank-you for your video and blog. It was so awesome to read the tips and then to see how your baby responded. You’re a great mother!

    Reply

  • Gem

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    I don’t want to be a downer here, but this drives me crazy. There us no evidence that supports the benefits you mentioned for infant massage. There is a very small chance it helps with sleep and digestion. That is it. I am not saying you shouldn’t do it because I am sure it is a nice relaxing way to bond and it certainly won’t hurt. However making a bunch of claims as to the benefit of something without research backing it is not cool.

    Reply

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