Max is 5 months now (where has the time gone?!) and is in a really fun stage since he is learning how to sit up, hold on to things, and interact with us more. I LOVE fall in the Midwest – everything from the food to the weather to football – and a lot of the fall bucket lists have awesome ideas, but I found that many of them aren’t necessarily baby friendly. Max isn’t eating solid foods yet, can’t sit up completely by himself, and goes to bed at 7pm, so I felt a little limited. BUT after doing a little research, I found that we just need to be creative! I hope you enjoy my list of a few fun, baby-friendly activities for us to enjoy with him this fall while also encouraging his development.
Fun, baby-friendly fall activities
1. Walk through a corn maze
Locate the Sound – As babies mature they can begin to locate or localize where a sound or voice is coming from. When you are not in your baby’s line of vision, make a soft sound or speak to them and then wait a few seconds to allow them the time to find you. Skills: Language, auditory processing, sound localization.
Follow with Your Eyes – Walk around the corn maze in eye sight of your child, challenge him to visually track your whereabouts without losing sight of you. If you go around a corner or behind something, make it very brief and reappear immediately with a “peek a boo” or “here I am” so he feels secure. Skills: Visual tracking, object permanence, language, socialization.
2. Walks & hikes through the fall foliage
Neighborhood Stroll – Take your baby out for a stroll, either carrying him or in a stroller. Be sure that your attention is focused on your child (no texting or phone calls!) and talk to your baby about anything and everything you see on your walk – especially the fall colors and shadows! He will most likely be wide-eyed as he gazes at his new big world. He will get exposure to new people, animals and objects he has never seen before. Skills: Receptive/expressive language, socialization, attention.
3. Go apple picking
Visual Tracking – Use your face, and different colored and sized apples, and slowly move them from left to right, right to left, upward and downward and in an arc. Encourage your baby to first fixate visually on the face or apple and then visually follow it without losing sight of it. Skills: Visual fixation & following, cognitive, attention.
Watch it Fall – Hold a brightly colored apple in your hand and attract your baby’s attention with it. Drop it to the ground in front of them, but do not move your hand. See if your baby looks down to find the apple or continues to look at your hand. Following the apple indicates an early understanding of object permanence, while looking at your hand shows your baby has not quite grasped this concept yet. Skills: Cognitive, attention, object permanence.
4. Visit a petting zoo
Reach & Grasp – Young babies are just starting to reach toward, bat at toys and eventually grasp them. Give your baby as many opportunities as possible to reach for and secure toys on her own in a variety of positions (back, tummy, side, supported sitting). Take him to a petting zoo around animals for him to reach toward. Skills: Fine Motor, reach, grasp, hand strength, dexterity.
Textures – A petting zoo with animals (textured fur) and sounds are great motivators for young babies to touch and feel. With extreme caution and supervision, help your baby open his hands to pat, rub, touch, grab and feel the animals. (Max loves reaching for and petting our dog Axel!) Skills: Fine Motor, reach, grasp, sensory, tactile exploration.
5. Play in a leaf pile
Frolic Play – Once a baby has good head/trunk control they often enjoy simple frolic games such as bouncing on your knee or being lifted over your head into the air like an “airplane”. Do this in a big leaf pile! When baby smiles and laughs it means “more” if baby cries, take a break until baby feels secure again. Skills: Gross motor, sensory/vestibular/movement, socialization.
Supported Stand – Allow your baby to straddle your leg and gently place the baby in a standing position as he attempts to bear some weight on his feet. Again – more fun in a leaf pile! Skills: Gross Motor, supported weight bearing.
Prop to Sit – Your baby will begin to strengthen his neck and trunk muscles in order to learn to sit with support from you and then soon he will be able to sit for small periods propping on his hands. You can place your baby in a big leaf pile and place pillows around him or use a Boppy pillow for support. Help him open his hands and place them on the floor in front or beside him so he can prop himself up and maintain a sitting position on his own. Gradually fade your support. Skills: Gross Motor, trunk, neck, arm strength, sitting balance.
What fun fall activities do you have planned with your little one?