Your child is beginning to gain traction when it comes to learning new things at this age. Below are some great tips from an occupational therapist on ways to engage your 6-9 month old! For more milestones, check out our first blog of the month: Milestone Moments: 6-9 Months
- More of that wonderful tummy time!
- It really is key that little ones spend so much of their time exploring and playing on their tummies.
- At this age, you really start to see more mobility and having your child start on their bellies encourages more muscle strengthening and transitioning skills between positions that are seen in the beginning stages of crawling!
- Toys get smaller.
- Babies at this age become more curious about objects and attempt more manipulation.
- Keep close supervision of items within reach, but some of the best toys are just everyday objects.
- You should see and encourage transferring of toys between hands such as blocks or the car keys.
- Remove items such as pegs or simple puzzle shapes from a board, a sippy cup from a cup holder, or rings from a ring stand.
- Encourage clapping for themselves in play.
- Clapping is more than just a social skill, it is fine motor skill that is built upon bringing toys to midline (middle of the body). It helps with eye-hand coordination as well as emotional development.
- Clap during songs or when reading books together.
- Use pinch to pick up small objects.
- Small objects need to be kept out of reach of little hands due to choking hazards, but this is the natural age when pinching skills start to develop. A great time to work on this is at meat times.
- Promote your child to pick up small food items like puffs and feeding themselves.
- You should see raking (using all fingers to bring into their palm) and pinching with 2-3 fingers to pick up just 1 item.
- Cause and effect toys.
- This is a great time to introduce "cause and effect" toys, such as latch toys or switch toys where something surprising and exciting happens after they push a button or flip a switch.
- It is great for play skills development in learning relationships between objects.
- This also gives children an understanding that they have control in their environment and that it's fun to play in exploring what's around them.
- New foods!
- Meal times provide numerous opportunities to explore their sensory environment as well as develop fine motor and self-care skills.
- At 6-9 months foods progress from thin to thick purees followed by soft mashed table foods (8-9 months) including soft cookies and lumpy foods.
- Place a spoon on their table surface and let them play and explore with it - banging on the table, moving through foods, and exploring orally in placing in and around mouth. It gets them used to the utensil and ready for the day (much later) that they can start feeding themselves with it.
- At 8-9 months, it is also important to introduce hard munchables. This includes hard food items that they are not to consume yet, but to explore with in their mouth only (e.g. raw carrot and celery sticks, hard dried fruit sticks, frozen waffles, etc.). It is a vital piece in the steps of feeding for "waking up" oral structures in their mouth and prepares them for more complex textures down the road.
- This is also the time to introduce drinking from a straw and begin practice drinking from a cup (9 months).
For more tips at this age, visit Milestone Moments: 6-9 Months