Your baby spends his first year of life building the muscle mass and control he needs to crawl, walk and eventually run. Even though he spends a lot of time eating and sleeping, your baby needs a stimulating environment and physical activity from birth, according to Bright Futures. Soon he'll pull himself up and begin toddling around the room, but you can help him reach those milestones with age-appropriate physical activities.
Baby swings and entertainment toys that keep your infant contained limit his options for moving his body. Make time each day for your infant to explore and move on the floor. Kids Health suggests creating a designated area that is free of any dangers so your infant can explore and play with his toys safely. Young babies need plenty of tummy time to build neck and trunk muscles. If he wants to lie on his back, take the opportunity to move his legs in a circular motion as if he is pedaling a bike. Older babies can sit, scoot or crawl around the area while playing and exploring. Supervise your baby at all times when he plays on the floor.
A baby typically moves from resting on his stomach to sitting up and finally to pulling himself into an upright position. Helping your baby move on to the next step with your support gives him a chance to build those muscles safely. For example, once he masters tummy time, help him sit by supporting his body with your hands and a pillow. Kids Health suggests supporting your baby as he learns to pull himself up once he masters sitting. When he is ready, hold his hands to support him as he begins to take steps. This activity gives your baby practice at these skills while giving you interaction time with your little one.
Toys designed specifically for infants -- rattles, soft blocks, stacking toys -- offer an interactive way for your baby to build his physical skills. The act of grabbing toys develops the motor skills he'll need as he gets older. Many toys, such as the stacking sets, promote hand-eye coordination. You can also encourage physical development by interacting with your baby and his toys. One example is to play with a favorite toy just out of his reach. This encourages him to scoot or crawl toward the toy to grab it.
Playing games with your infant gives him lots of bonding time with you and helps him develop physically. Many classic games offer developmental benefits, or you can make up your own games. "Patty Cake" is an example of a game to play with your baby. When he gets old enough, he can do the movements to the song himself, improving his coordination and motor control. Other game ideas include rolling a ball back and forth, crawling through a pillow obstacle course, or finding a hidden object by moving to it.