The community I have built on social media the last 8 years has watched my 6 month old grow up through stories- from this comes a lot of questions, tips, tricks, and helpful apps / blogs / toys / etc! This will be an ever evolving blog as Oakley hits new milestones and I am so excited to bring the knowledge my followers bring me, to you!
Let’s first off by saying the obvious- this is not medical advice. All babies hit milestones at different ages. If you feel your baby is behind developmentally, that should be a conversation you have with your doctor- NOT the social media doctors.
The first aspect I want to discuss are Leaps! I have literally no idea what a leap was until my delivery nurse told me about an app called Wonder Weeks, they also have a book! It is an app that costs you a one time fee of $4.99. I would pay $500 for this app monthly- that is how much it has helped us. Leaps are defined as developmental stages where you baby “leaps” into a new skill, concept, connection, etc. It is based off of their due date and so far, it has been spot on for O! It’s actually a little freaky how accurate it is! If you don’t do anything else but download that app, I can guarantee you you will feel so confident in your baby’s milestones. It even has game ideas for each leap to further develop their new skill!
- Leap 1- Sensations
- Games: contrast cards,
- Leap 2- Patterns
- Games: chat with baby, facial expressions, tummy time, outdoor time, bells on hands and feet
- Leap 3- Smooth Transitions
- Games: tummy time on a hard surface, grip strength 5 seconds at a time, supine on back on floor, rocking, rattle, airplane
- Leap 4- Events
- Leap 5- Relationships
- Games: hide and seek, music, short sentences, describe everything you are doing, toys falling over, toys rolling, sitting up
- Leap 6- Categories
- Games: sensory box, saying words associated with textures (soft, rough), mimicking baby- this equaled lots of laughs for us, ripping paper and ripping leaves outside- lots of crunchiness!
- Leap 7- Sequences
- Games: turning pages, pop up books, pointing and naming, brushing teeth
- Leap 8- Programs
- Games: building with toys, drawing, more books!
- Leap 9- Principles
- Games: puzzles, hiding objects, baby eating and drinking on their own
- Leap 10- Systems
- Games: Hide and seek, time-based situations (first, wait), balance and climbing (she loves her indoor wooden play gym)
The more leaps we go through, the more games and toys we use with Oakley. The first few leaps were just petrified parents just making sure we could keep this tiny human alive. Now we are focused very hard on using the leap time to further engrain the skills she is learning by doing as much play time and skill learning that she will allow for at a time. Do NOT feel like you have to be doing a million things, we aimed for 5 minutes every wake window for skill development her first two leaps and it made such a difference for her! The skills also build on top of one another! Just because facial expressions isn’t listed after leap 2, doesn’t mean you should stop doing them!
Tummy time is one of the first big milestones for parents! I personally am a stomach sleeper and Josh sleeps like a vampire so we were unsure if Oakley would like tummy time. She definitely takes after me and absolutely loved tummy time as soon as we started doing it! Here are some amazing tips I learned through my followers and my own research:
I never do tummy time with Oakley directly after a feeding. I always made sure she ate 20-30 minutes before we would start tummy time. I broke it up into 5 minute sessions 6 times per day until she started enjoying it for longer periods. Ir your body cries, try to comfort them by playing music, rubbing their back, talking to them, getting to eye level, etc!
I have also been told that you should try tummy time on different surfaces. We started on our large ottoman (with no chance of her rolling off), and then transitioned into a harder surface. Try carpet, hardwood (with hands under their head to protect until their necks are stronger), airplane, etc!
Lastly, I found using a boppy or even a towel under her chest at first made a huge difference in here enjoyment of tummy time. I also found this toy that is the best of both worlds- a boppy with toys to keep the entertained!
Don’t give up and don’t get discouraged! You do a lot of tummy time when your newborn is laying stomach to chest on you while they nap! You just have to convert that level of comfort to tummy time without them laying on you! Even though that is a great start- lay flat on the floor and allow baby to do tummy time on you to start! It may make the world of difference.
Once baby has good neck control and some developed trunk muscles, sitting up is a huge milestone! Oakley is sitting on her own (even though I am always nearby as she does topple from time to time) at exactly six months old! We started off by using a boppy to keep here propped up while we sat behind her to correct any shifts in her weight. She loves reading books so that is a great way to practice sitting and also read to your baby!
A few weeks later, we removed the boppy and she would sit in between my legs. I noticed she was looking at the ground a lot during here sitting time so we purchased a toy that would force her to look up- a tall toy! She is still obsessed with it to this day and plays with it for about an hour a day!
Something that has really helped her to sit on her own is to adjust her feet. At first we had them tucked but now the wider her legs stance- the more stable she is when sitting on her own. Don’t be afraid to get your baby’s legs and feet in different positions to help them with this skill.
The last thing we added for sitting was getting a sensory box. Oakley absolutely loves this thing and it’s a great transitional piece too for when she starts standing. She also will crawl towards it- so it’s great for crawling, sitting, and standing! Not to mention all of the sensory benefits it brings!
Oakley starting crawling (more than just an army crawl) a few days before her 8 month “birthday”! We encouraged it, but didn’t force it, by placing items just out of reach for her when she was doing tummy time. She arm crawled for quite some time but then finally grasped the concept that her legs could help crawl!
As mentioned above, this blog will be updated with new milestones and skills but I wanted to share what we have learned so far with our bundle!
Oakley took her first steps right around 11 months and was fully walking before she turned 12 months old. She now (at 18 months) is unstoppable! Crawling up on couches, running, playing hide and seek, etc! It truly is amazing how much can change in a few months!