Your little one is out of the newborn stage and is now starting to ALREADY become more independent! They are able to sleep for longer stretches (hopefully) and are able to differentiated their cries in order to get their needs met.
In this post I will give you information about what self help skills look like and how to encourage self help skills in babies from 3 to 6 months.
All children develop differently so know that if your baby is not doing the exact same things as your best friend’s, that is ok. However, if you are concerned about your little one’s development always seek out the Early Intervention program in your area for a free screening or evaluation.
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3-6 MONTHS self help SKILLS INCLUDE:
Sleeps Longer Stretches
You may notice that your baby is starting to sleep longer stretches at night. They should be getting about 10-12 hours total but still waking up at times is normal. According to Baby Sleep Central your baby’s awake time should be about 1.25 to 2 hours at a time from 4-6 months with naps during the day that total up to about 3.5 to 5 hours. Click here if you would like to learn more about awake/nap times for your baby.
Bringing Hands to Mouth
Your baby is starting to use their hands to play and explore. They are now able to bring their hands to their mouth while holding an object or toy. This skill lets baby explore new objects with their mouths which is how they take in a lot of information. Providing them with simple textured toys (like this one) that they can explore is a great way to encourage this skill.
Placing Hands on Bottle
Your baby is showing interest in helping feed themselves. You may notice that they are bringing their hands up to the bottle while they are feeding. Eventually they will gain the strength to hold the bottle on their own. You can start working on this skill by gently bringing their hands up to the bottle during feeding times. If they resist, follow their cues. They may not be ready to concentrate on holding the bottle and may need to focus on coordinating their feeding. Keep trying periodically to introduce this skill.
How Can I Encourage Self Help Skills?
Playing with your baby is a wonderful way to encourage the muscles and coordination they need to gain for skills like reaching for the bottle. Encourage two-handed play with simple toys (like these) during diaper changes or floor time.
Let your baby explore different textures with their hands which will also encourage reaching and grabbing. Let them feel the roughness of a washcloth or a soft silk scarf to bring awareness to those little hands.
Hold Your Baby
Hold your baby during feeding times and do not prop the bottle so that they eat alone. Avoid leaving the bottle in a crib or pack and play as well. Feeding time is a great time to connect and be social with your baby. You can work on showing them how to hold their own bottle by gently placing their hands on it. As they become stronger you give them less help and let them hold it on their own.
If you are breastfeeding, it is also a great time to connect with your little one. I know how tempting it can be to watch TV or look at your cell phone during feeding times. Try to take the time to watch your baby while they feed as they grow up so fast! Watch for their cues to let you know when to switch sides or change positions to make them more comfortable.
In order to promote good sleep habits, establish a bedtime routine. Reading (simple books like these work great) and singing and perfect activities to include into your routine. Make sure to give your baby time to calm down and fall asleep. Always follow safe sleep practices (if you need more information on safe sleep guidelines click here.)
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