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BRIGHT STARTS: Ball Play at Every Age

It’s a classic toy that all of us enjoyed as children – the ball! Learn how simple ball play can help your baby’s development at every age and stage.

3-6 Months

 

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During tummy time, babies are starting to push up, and putting a ball in front of your baby can help inspire her to practice this skill. At this stage of development, babies can’t use their fingers yet, so they are practicing grasping with their palm (called the palmar grasp). The balls from the Having a Ball™ Collection from Bright Starts™ were designed to fit perfectly into baby’s hands.

6-12 Months

Now that baby is sitting up, you can play with your baby by rolling a ball back and forth across the floor. This is a great way for baby to practice reaching, grabbing and aiming skills. Baby is also learning to transfer objects back and forth between both hands. Try rolling one ball to baby, and then add a second and watch as baby grabs it too. Adding a third ball to the game stimulates baby’s decision-making and processing skills. Baby is teething around this age, so be sure the balls you provide are big enough that they won’t fit inside baby’s mouth, just like the balls from the Having a Ball™ Collection from Bright Starts™ – designed to fit perfectly into baby’s hands but won’t fit inside your baby’s mouth.

12-15 Months

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This is the time that baby is learning words and how they relate to the world around them, so talk to your baby while you’re playing ball together. This is a great way for baby to learn to say the word “ball.” Say the word playfully and describe your actions to baby as you make them, for example, “Roll the ball” or “Please pass me the ball.” Babies learn faster when they can associate words with actions. Look for the Hide & Spin Monkey™ from Bright Starts™, baby can place balls in the monkey’s hat and watch him play peek-a-boo as balls roll and spin.

15-24 Months

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Now that baby is toddling around, playing with a ball is even more fun! Most babies will learn to throw a ball on their own, so a game of catch is a great idea at this age. Now is a good time to offer balls of different sizes so baby can work on a variety of skills. Larger balls are great for two-handed play and kicking. Rubber balls that bounce and smaller plastic balls are great for throwing. The Having a Ball™ 3-in-1 Step ‘n Ride Lion™ from Bright Starts™ is roaring with fun for babies at this age! Baby can sit and play, push and walk behind, or sit and ride. Even the youngest baby can sit and feed balls into the lion’s mouth and watch them spin around lion’s mane!

Humor and laughter are a universal part of human development. Babies all over the world share their first giggles at 3- to 4-months of age, regardless of their native language, gender, culture, or geographical location.

Play is learning. Which is why Gina Mireault, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Johnson State College in Vermont, has some specific advice for new parents: “Relax. Put down the baby math flashcards. If your baby is smiling and laughing, you are doing something right!”

Here’s the really fun part: Toys that offer a variety of ways to play (with balls, colorful lights and silly sounds) encourage interaction between baby and parents. And that is just what the doctor ordered for generating as much baby laughter as possible. So c’mon, let’s get those giggles going! Have you made your baby laugh today?

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