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With each passing day, your baby is becoming more aware of the world around her, and with awareness comes curiosity. One way she attunes herself to her surroundings is through her nose – that sharp sense of smell babies are born with. An afternoon among the flowers is a delightfully fragrant way to nurture her nosy nature.
Appropriate for: 4 weeks to 1 year
Skills developed: Olfactory
What you'll need: Some blooming flowers
For your baby's first experience with aromatherapy, take her to a location – outdoors, a plant nursery, a botanical garden, a florist – where you can find fragrant flowers such as lavender, daffodils, freesias, or roses. Hold her up, supporting her head carefully, with her face close to a fresh, newly opened bloom and watch her pleased expression as she catches the sweet smell.
Be careful, though: Not only do roses have sharp thorns, but some plants, such as lily of the valley, foxgloves, and rhododendrons, contain toxins that could make your baby sick if she ate them, so be sure to hold her hands gently to prevent any touch- or taste-tests.
We're not sure why, but most babies love having their little legs moved in a cycling motion. If you combine the movement with the sound of your voice, it becomes an even more stimulating activity.
Appropriate for: Newborn to 3 months
Skills developed: Gross motor, auditory
What you'll need: No equipment needed
With your baby lying on his back on the floor, couch, or changing table, grasp him gently by each ankle and move his legs slowly in a circle, as if he were riding a bicycle. Exaggerate the movement slightly, bringing his knees up close to his chest and stretching each leg out straight on the "down" side.
Hold your face close to his, and speak to him softly about what you're doing: "Here's your left leg turning. Now your right." "Here it goes up, up, up ... and back down again." Vary the rhythm of the cycles, alternately speeding up and slowing down. The motion strengthens his legs and abdomen, and your voice perks up his hearing.
Remember: Each baby develops at a different pace, so if yours isn't quite ready for this week's activities, don't worry – just try them again in a few weeks.
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