almost 4 years ago

I already posted the Chinese version of this blog post two months back. The English draft was kept until now (since some of it was written two months ago, it was written in present tense).

This is a list of things I did with my baby while she was 0 - 4 months. That is, before she was able to roll around and commando crawl.

I'm keeping this post for both retrospective purpose & hope will be useful to my new mommy and expectant mommy friends.

Most of the games below don't involve a toy, although at the end of the post I decided to quickly list a list of toys I found to have high and long lasting value.

Massage

Useful starting: 0+ month

I give her a massage after I change her diaper in the morning. I put her in the play pen naked (if it's cold, I put a swaddling blanket over her) and start with her legs & feet, moving up to the tummy & back, and finally the arms. I follow the moves from this Youtube video but only do a shortened version of it. Josephine is always SUPER HAPPY when she gets a massage in the morning.

Tummy Time

Useful starting: 0+ month
Duration: stop whenever baby starts face planting or crying

We put Josephine on her tummy on day 5. She was able to support herself just long enough to switch her head from one side to the other. She would also swim and kick her legs. I would put my hands against the bottom of her feet so she would literally "frog swim" a few inches forward at a time. Interestingly, once she got older (2 mo+), she stopped doing the frog swim on her tummy.

There are many ways to strengthen the tummy. You can YouTube "tummy time" for more ideas.

Stage 0: the face-down cradle hold is actually a passive tummy workout

Stage 1: put the baby on a play gym or yoga mat

Stage 2: advanced tummy time with a boppy pillow or a small pillow

Stage 3: tummy time on a workout ball

Moving Arms & Legs (+ music)

Useful starting: 0+ month
Duration: usually the length of a song (3-5 min)

I put on a baby song playlist on my phone, sing along (I still need to learn the lyrics to many of them, unfortunately) while I move her arms and legs around. She likes egg beaters (or I guess bicycle legs).

Pull to Sit & Stand

Useful starting: 3+ month
Duration: can repeat 2-3 times and then move on to something else with her sitting

I pull her to sitting. In the beginning of 3 months, she still had head lag. Now at 4 months she has no head lag and would assist in the pull with bent arms. She would often kick down while I pull her up, so instead of sitting, she ends up standing. If she stands, I would hold her under the armpit and let her stomp away on the floor or my chest (with me lying down).

Read (more like eat) a book

Useful starting: 3+ month
Duration: when we finish the book, usually 5 min

I let her sit with her back against me and we read the Lamaze cloth book. She grabs the insert leafs or logs and puts it in her mouth while I attempt to explain what she's chewing ("a bear!" "it's a racoon...yummy?")

Starry Night

Useful starting: 2+ month
Duration: anytime I need to leave her awake in the bedroom while I go to the bathroom; I also use it as night light for bedtime feeding

I turn on the Constellation Night Turtle which projects stars and the moon in the bedroom. This way the bedroom is not entirely dark (even though we have another LED night light, it's still really dim) while I temporarily leave her there.

Shadow Puppets

Useful starting: as soon as they can see the ceiling

I lie with her in bed. Using the iPhone flashlight and my other free hand, I make various shadow figures and let her follow the changing shapes and movements.

Finger Puppets

Useful starting: 2+ months

I put her in the swing facing me. Put on some finger puppets and start pretending to talk like the animals (I have a lobster, a bird, and a porcupine). Around 3 months, she would grab the puppets from my fingers and try to put them to her mouth.

Making Faces

Useful starting: 2+ months

I do this all the time. On the changing table or when I put her on me with me lying down. I make funny faces (her favorite is a surprise face), do lip trills, make bubbly sounds, etc...just try a bunch of ridiculous stuff and see which ones she responds to.

Quick list of toys

The following are toys I found to be useful from 0 - 4 months. In fact, some of them are still useful currently at 6 months.

  • Baby Gym --- Everyone I know has this baby gym. At first I thought it's just Amazon's fault, but this gym is actually really good. It's good for tummy time. It's got blinking lights that babies are extremely attracted to. It's got lots of hanging space for toys that they can swat, grab, chew. It's easy to clean. And the music ain't bad.

  • Hanging Stroller/Gym Toys --- I know why nobody ever sells these second-handed on Craigslist...cuz they are sooo good that by the time you can sell them, they're thoroughly destroyed by the babies! I like the shaking toy, and this tag chime.

  • Toy Links --- These links look stupid until you realize they are the best thing ever. First, they can attach to themselves. Second, they can attach to pretty much all hanging toys which can attach to baby gyms and strollers. Lastly, babies love grabbing, chewing, banging them. WIN.

  • Rattle --- Great for getting baby's attention, and also great for letting them practice grabbing and banging.

I like to bring the hanging toys with me when travelling and just set them up with a chair or somewhere I can hang them. Put on some music and voila --- an improvised baby gym :)

And here are some toys that I think were useful but have shorter life span:

  • Piano Gym --- I like this gym for two reasons. The mirror which lets the baby see herself on her back, and the piano itself. This gym unfortunately very quickly becomes obsolete once the baby can roll and has good head control.

  • This Owl --- I think this owl is simply too big to be interesting to a 0 - 4 mo old...impossible for them to get a hold of. And once she got older and could roll over, it was still not fun. Fail.

  • Sophie the Giraffe --- Sophie is probably recommended for 5 - 6 mo or older, when they can grab very well and chew. But Josephine is almost 7 months now and I have other friends who have this giraffe (basically I think everyone has this giraffe), I have yet to see any of our babies benefit as greatly from this giraffe as the Amazon reviews make it seem. Yes, Josephine does chew Sophie every now and then, but she also chews my keys, Saga's tail, her own fingers, and pretty much everything else she can grab a hold of. More importantly, it's not the kind of toy that I can get her excited about. The few times I tried to make Sophie squeak, Josephine simply ignored me. I would say it's a pretty expensive $23 giraffe. The money could be better spent on buying other toys.

That's all for 0 - 4 months. Once they can roll and crawl, it's a completely different ball game....time for the next blog post!

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