Walk Like a Wheelbarrow

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If you’re from a certain generation, chances are you remember wheelbarrow races in the backyard as a kid! It’s a classic that never grows old, even with little babies.

Back when she was learning to crawl, I propped Veronika up slightly with a towel for a sort of modified wheelbarrow. Now, she can fully support herself on her arms, and I turned it into a silly game to reach her stuffed animals.

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Those stuffed animals had her motivated! It took her a moment of hesitation, but once I had her palms on the ground and her ankles in my hands, she began walking her little hands forward. What a great strength-training exercise!

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And she had three soft friends waiting to play at the end of the race.

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Croquet for Crawlers

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Stuck inside with your baby on a rainy day? Look no further than this indoor game of “croquet”, perfect for crawlers, to keep the little one entertained.

Cut the square ends off a shoebox and discard; you’ll be left with a rectangle.

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Cut the remaining rectangle into pieces so you have 3 to 4 “wickets”.

If you’re using an adult-sized shoebox, tennis balls work great for this game. Because I used a child-sized shoebox, the tennis balls were too large but some balls we have from a shape sorter were just right.

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I lined the wickets up in a row and showed Veronika how to roll the ball through them. She immediately gave her ball a little half-roll half-push.

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She loved both watching me roll balls and taking her own turns. (Plus see the cat waiting to catch the ball? Everyone was entertained!).

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After we had played with the wickets in a row, I set them up more free-form and encouraged her to roll balls back and forth and all around, crawling between wickets all the while.

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Picking up wickets was half the fun, of course.

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In sum, she loved this little game!

 

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Crawl Space Race

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Big brother’s toys are so tempting to Veronika, but I usually keep her in a safe playroom filled only with baby toys. When she manages to break free into the hallway, she looks immensely satisfied with herself. Today, I indulged her desire for freedom and turned it into a little game. Here comes trouble…

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Definitely only play this game with toys that are safe for a baby even if they belong to a big sibling. We set up a few large superheroes as the grand prize. You can cover them with a blanket or basket for extra excitement.

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Travis knelt down next to Veronika until I gave the green light. And they’re off!

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She had no idea she was having a race, of course, she was just having a blast! Meanwhile, Travis had the thrill of a chase and the satisfaction of winning.

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Now it was Veronika versus mommy! I crawled along at her pace to her absolute delight, and we reached the toys together.

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You can also deliberately let your baby crawl ahead of you, which gives you the chance to tickle little toes.

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There are lots of variations on this game. Introduce silly concepts like “The last one there is a rotten egg!” or have the race be to a person instead of a toy.

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What games do you play with your little crawler? Please share in the comments!

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Go Get It

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There are so many games I’ve been waiting to play with Veronika with the caveat that she needed to be a crawler first. Well, now she’s a crawler and we’re playing!

Today, it was a simple game of pointing her towards her toys and saying, “Go get it!”

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First, I rolled two balls away from her. She barely needed me to say the words before she was off.

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I asked her next if she could get the purple one.

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Of course the fact that she went for it was probably pure coincidence at this age, but it’s never too early to build the vocabulary for colors.

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You can also turn it into a game for following instructions. Any toys on the “pillow fence” are irresistible to her, so she was off and crawling for them in a heartbeat.

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“Can you put them in the bucket?” I asked, aping the movement for her.

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She crawled happily over to the bucket and… ker-plunk!

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You can even make the game into a “race” with mommy or daddy, which will have your little one giggling. Who would get to the toys first?

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In sum, there are lots of variations you can play with this baby version of fetch, and your little one will love building those crawling muscles during all of them.

Safe to Explore

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Well, Veronika is a crawler! Her big brother skipped this milestone (which, in fact, doctors don’t refer to as a milestone, since so many kids skip it), so a nine-month-old on the move is new to me! Here are a few baby-proofing tricks I’ve uncovered in just a few days to make sure Veronika can safely explore!

  • Cover all electrical outlets with safety covers. Yes, these might be annoying when I have to remove one to vacuum a room or plug in an appliance, but the alternative is far worse.Safe to Explore (7)
  • Make sure all rugs are slip-proof.
  • Keep medicines or cleaning supplies out of reach or in cabinets with safety locks. I quickly moved our paint bin into a cabinet, too, after Veronika decided it was her favorite thing to head towards in the playroom.
  • Keep all toys small enough to choke on out of reach. Since we don’t have a baby gate large enough to divide the playroom from the living room, big brother helped me create “pillowville.” Safe to Explore (2)Veronika stays on one side with baby-safe toys and all the big boy stuff (Legos, Playmobil) lives on the other side of the divide. Make sure to box up small toys at the end of each day to be safe.Safe to Explore (3)
  • Use wall anchors to stabilize furniture that can tip, like bookshelves or stand lamps.Safe to Explore (8)
  • Check for breakable objects that baby can tug down from shelves or windowsills. If need be, remove to an area the baby can’t reach.Safe to Explore (1)
  • Get down low and look at the room from your baby’s vantage point. I hadn’t realized how obvious my computer cord was until at her eye-level. You can use cord-wrapping devices for all the pesky cords that come with modern life, or move those objects to a different room. Safe to Explore (4)Looks like the computer will have to move to another spot!Safe to Explore (5)

As always, it’s a good idea to have standard first-aid items in one place, if not in a kit, and to know infant CPR. Keep emergency numbers like poison control stored in your phone so you’re never looking them up in a panic (that’s 800-222-1222 FYI).

Stay safe, and enjoy the crawling stage!

 

 

Baby’s First Tunnel

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Do you find yourself trying to encourage a budding crawler these days? Then make the temptation irresistible with a tunnel!

Right now, eight-month-old Veronika loves leaning forward to get to her toys, and my hope was that creating a tunnel archway would encourage her into a true first crawl. First, I tried to entice her with an open box.

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Hmm, the box looked interesting, and got lots of smiles.

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But she didn’t actually try to crawl through it.

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Next up was a mommy tunnel! This definitely got her attention.

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She played with my feet at first, but then made moves to go through the archway. Still, she gave up after a few tries reaching for a toy on the other side.

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This is also a great game for getting siblings involved, who may want to make a leg tunnel, or perhaps do a backbend and see if baby goes through that way! We’re hoping to have a true crawler soon!

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Make a Sensations Rug

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This project is great tactile way for your eight-month-old to explore different textures with his or her hands or with the full body, if crawling. I made the project with quite a few hacks, since I’m no seamstress. If you’re skilled with a needle and thread, you’ll want to sew various fabrics onto a larger piece of fabric and present that more elegant version to your baby.

But this mama wields a hot glue gun! I used a pliable piece of craft foam as the backing and firmly hot-glued down: reflective paper, burlap, fluffy fabric, smooth cotton, two corks, an old sock, and a second piece of bumpy craft foam.

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Veronika couldn’t wait to get her hands all over this! She dug little fingers into the soft and fluffy fabric, and ran fingers over the scratchy burlap.

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She pulled insistently at the bumpy corks…

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…and otherwise just had a ball.

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The reflective material definitely caught her attention.

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I then put the “rug” down on the floor alongside another tactile blanket that we own, featuring tassels and a nubby fabric. My hope was that this expanded surface might encourage her to crawl across both (note: she’s thisclose to crawling), but she preferred to lie on her tummy and let her fingers get busy.

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There was flicking, rubbing, and pure enjoyment of all the different elements.

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In sum, this is a cute riff on board books that feature textured pages, and has a charming homemade quality that you and your baby will love.

Kiss Chase

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At eight months old, Veronika has made a big leap: the art of anticipation. This is why you may notice your baby holding out his or her arms now to be picked up, or anticipating a host of other moments in a daily routine.

One way to have fun with this? Be a kissy monster!

“I’m going to kiss you!” I say to Veronika. Wait for it…

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Wait for it…

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Then I either swoop in and kiss her everywhere, or give raspberries to her belly, or pick her up and kiss all over her cheeks.

She giggles every time, because she knows what’s coming!

This game has only gotten more fun as Veronika attempts to crawl. Now it really can be a “chase.” I tease her by saying, “I’m coming for you!”

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Oh no, can she get away?

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Caught by the kissy monster again!

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Rock ‘n’ Roll

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Veronika is so close to crawling, but her arms still aren’t quite strong enough yet to propel forward. You can build those arm muscles by placing a bolster under your baby’s belly; think of this as 8 month old tummy time!

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I rolled up a beach towel tightly and positioned her with arms over it and legs behind.

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Now lift your baby’s legs. The weight will transfer to their arms, and hopefully he or she will “walk” the hands forward.

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Veronika was delighted! Mom, she seemed to say, I’m doing it!

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You can roll baby forwards a little ways – just make sure you are on a smooth surface, and not a carpet.

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After I let go of her legs, I let Veronika hang out this way for a while. She kicked her feet, and shifted her torso side to side to check out the towel, so she was still getting in quite a little workout.

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Mini Gym

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Whatever your baby’s latest gross motor skill milestone is, this cute gym session will have him or her giggling! It can be a Mini Rolling Gym, a Mini Sitting Gym, or a Mini Crawling Gym. The key is to get down on your baby’s level and show them the actions, which will serve both as a model and as a game!

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Veronika is already a roller, but first for some review I lay down next to her. Well she thought this was just the greatest.

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I rolled away from her…

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…which soon had her rolling to me. This was a nice refresher because she’s so busy sitting up these days, she sort of forgets to roll when I put her on her back.

Our next gym session was planks (okay, tummy time). She loved having me down at elbow level with her.

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Next I started to crawl in circles around her. This is probably the next gross motor skill that Veronika will master, since she’s currently kicking with legs and pushing up on her arms, but not quite able to put it all together yet.

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She looked like she wanted to chase after me!

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I then sat her up, placed a few favorite toys just out of reach, and mimed reaching for them. Soon she was copying me.

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In short, we both got in a little workout, and lots of giggles!

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