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Home : Specialty Care : Birthing Center : Fostering Development

Fostering Development

The Birthing Center

Location: 4, 5 & 6 North
202 S. Park Street
Madison, WI 53715
Birthing Center Triage Line: (608) 417-6228
Breastfeeding Helpline: (608) 417-6547, 1-800-261-4449
Patient Room Information: (608) 417-6000
Perinatal Clinic: (608) 417-6667
Newborn Intensive Care Unit: (608) 417-6215

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What activities can I do to foster normal development of my baby?


Age 0-2 Months

  • To help develop head control, when held at your shoulder:
    • Hold your baby high enough that s/he can look around
    • Let your baby raise his/her head, but keep a hand near to support if necessary
    • Turn your back to a mirror so the baby can see him/herself
    • Have someone stand behind you and talk to your baby
    • Walk around so there are new things to see
  • Tummy time, when awake only. This helps strengthen neck and shoulder muscles. This should be done on a flat surface like a matress or a covered floor.
    • Place baby on tummy with the arms forward and elbows in line with the shoulders.
    • Place a toy 6-8 inches in front of your baby or place your baby in front of a mirror.
    • Gradually increase tummy time. At first your baby will tire easily.
    • Hold your baby on his or her tummy while on your lap.

1-4 Months

  • Bring hands together near the face and chest. This helps prepare your baby for reaching and exploring his/her hands.
    • Position your baby with the arms forward when cradled or when in an infant seat.
    • Place a finger in each of his/her hands when playing.
    • Play pat-a-cake.
    • Encourage your baby to bring hands together to explore a toy, bottle or your face.
    • Put a toy with texture on your baby's chest.
    • Provide some side-lying time with your baby's hands together.
  • Encourage your baby to grasp toys and other objects. At first your baby will have an automatic grasp. As this reflex goes away, your baby will develop a more purposeful grasp.
    • Provide opportunities for you baby to grasp things: fingers, rattles, teething type toys.
    • Provide a toy during diaper change.
    • Help your baby practice holding on to things one hand at a time. At first your baby will drop toys frequently even if s/he is still interested in them.
    • If your baby has trouble letting go, gently stroke the back of the hand from wrist to fingers or bend the wrist forward a little to encourage letting go
    • Learning to roll from tummy to back: With you baby lying on its stomach, get your baby's attention by holding a toy in front of him/her. Then slowly move the toy toward the side and back. As your baby stretches to see the toy, s/he will start to roll.

4-6 Months

  • Help your baby explore his/her feet.
    • Play with your baby's feet, kiss them, move them and play games with them.
    • Encourage your baby to find his/her feet with his hands.
    • Help your baby explore his/her toes with his lips and mouth