By about six months, your baby gains at least some control over most of the muscles in her body. She doesn't really need your help to discover how to use them. She'll develop, practice, and master the physical skills with or without your help. Nonetheless, you may help move along the process (and have a lot of fun doing it) by helping your baby exercise and build her muscles.
Here's what you can do:
- Give her the floor. Your baby will take advantage of almost any opportunity to explore her new skills and the world around her. So don't keep her cooped up all day in her crib, playpen, stroller, baby carrier, baby swing, or baby bouncer. Give her some free time as well.
- Keep her mouth open. Limit her use of a pacifier to those times when she needs it to calm or soothe herself. Otherwise, give her free rein to explore safe objects through her favorite sense: taste.
- Give her a hand. Help your baby to practice her new skills by pulling her to sitting or standing, giving her bottom a little push to help her roll over, and putting safe toys or other objects within her grasp for her to explore. But only provide as much help as she needs. Let her do as much of the work in sitting up, for example, as she can. Or start putting objects down next to her rather than in her hand.
- Give her some exercise. Put your baby through a calisthenics routine: not to give her an intense workout, but just for fun. Help her to put her hands over her head or touch her toes or clap her hands or kiss her knees. Help her do sit-ups. Or play bouncing games on your knees.
- Give her a round of applause. Praise her warmly and enthusiastically for each new skill she demonstrates.