What’s on your mind? Whether your question is big or small, our team of award-winning teachers, counselors, and other education pros will answer it.

ASK US A QUESTION

PRINT

Do you have resources for early child development? I have a 7-month-old and with such limited access to friends, family, and baby groups or classes these days, I'd love suggestions for activities to do with her.

New to This in New York

A photo of Whitney.

Whitney Henderson

Whitney Henderson is EdNavigator's Chief Program Officer. She brings more than a decade of experience as an award-winning teacher, school leader, and instructional expert.

Dear New to This:


First off, congratulations! It should go without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that it’s a strange and challenging time to have a new baby at home. Just loving your baby, keeping her safe and healthy, and maintaining your own mental and physical well-being along the way are the most important things to focus on right now.


That said, you asked for activities, so we’ll assume you have those bases covered and are ready for more. That’s great! Your baby is getting closer and closer to one year, and by the time she reaches that milestone, she’ll have absorbed so much about the world around her, her body, her security with you, and she’ll even begin to repeat your words. This is why it’s important to start nurturing the four big buckets of child development.


Child psychologists believe that parental supervision and support with fine and gross motor skills, language, social and emotional health, and cognitive development will go a long way toward the success of a growing child. I’ll break down what each category means and offer some quick things you can do with your 7-month-old to support her progress:


Fine and Gross Motor Skills: Fine motor skills are small movements, such as picking up small objects or holding a spoon, that use the small muscles of the fingers, toes, wrists, lips, and tongue. Gross motor skills are the bigger movements—like rolling over and sitting—that use the larger muscles in the arms, legs, torso, and feet. There are lots of simple activities you can do with your baby to support both. Put your baby on her stomach for brief periods every day (the infamous “tummy time”!) so she can practice lifting her head, strengthening her neck, and learning to roll. At 7 months, she’s probably getting ready to sit up on her own and might be starting to scoot around, too. Keep your baby active. She might not be able to run and play like the big kids just yet, but there’s lots she can do to keep her little arms and legs moving throughout the day. Getting down on the floor with her to move helps your baby become strong, learn, and explore. Encourage your baby to begin standing by placing one of her favorite toys on the seat of a sturdy chair. Point to the chair, tell her the toy is there, and cheer for her to get up and grab it.


Language: Your baby’s language development includes not just spoken words, but also sounds and signs. You can answer when your baby makes sounds by repeating her sounds and adding words. This will help her learn to use language in conversation. You can read to her—baby books, of course, but even grown-up books or magazines: At this age, it’s all about exposure. Babies often love to look at books with photographs of other babies, too. You can also help her connect sounds with meanings by labeling things. For instance, point to pictures in books, name the body parts, and touch her eyes, nose, and mouth while naming them.


Social and Emotional Health: Social-emotional health is based on the theory that a human’s personality is developed through a repeating series of crises and resolutions. This doesn’t mean creating a crisis for your baby, of course! It just means that you can start helping her organize her world and feel secure and attached. Talk to her often, so she begins to associate your voice with love and comfort. Play with your baby when she’s alert and relaxed, and watch her for signs of being tired or fussy so she can take a break. And establish routines around transitions, so she learns what to expect. For example, by establishing a relaxing bedtime ritual, she’ll soon be able to expect and appreciate the break from her busy day, and feel more ready to sleep. (A “bedtime ritual” for a baby can be as simple as a book and a quick song. Or you might want to incorporate a bath or other relaxing activities. Either way, it doesn’t have to be elaborate!)


Cognitive Development: Cognitive development is primarily concerned with ways in which infants and children acquire, develop, and use internal mental capabilities such as problem-solving and memory. As your baby grows, you can ask her to name body parts and objects, or play matching games, shape sorting, and simple puzzles with you leading the way. Eventually, she’ll figure it out!


Here are some free apps that we love and have heard our members say that they’ve enjoyed. (Some of these will be more applicable as your baby grows older and enters toddlerhood.) If you try them, let us know if you find them helpful!


Vroom: Sign up to get super quick and age-appropriate daily activities to support your baby’s development.

Baby Doodle: Allows your baby to draw and color.

I Hear Ewe: Teaches animal names and sounds through a simple game.

Baby Puzzles: Helps your child’s cognitive development through memory games and matching exercises.

Baby’s Musical Hands: Colorful squares of musical notes allow your baby to make their own songs.