Try This at Home Tuesday: Play ball with baby!
Benefits of rolling a ball with baby:
Rolling, rolling, rolling, get those balls a rolling! Rolling balls with baby helps to develop many skills. Once babies are able to sit up independently, they can start learning to roll a ball back and forth. In doing so, they are working on hand-eye coordination, visual tracking, gross and fine motor skills and social-communication. Here’s a look at ball rolling in action with my ten month old. I’ve gotten his daddy on board! We’ve been working on this since he began sitting up at six months old, he’s getting pretty good at it.
Ball rolling helps to develop the social-communication skills of turn-taking, reciprocal interactions, joint attention and eye contact. I often work on these skills when treating children that have difficulties with social language use. Rolling a ball back and forth with a caregiver is a basic form of turn taking, which develops the foundation for the turn taking that we do verbally in conversation (your turn to speak, now my turn and so on). Ball rolling encourages eye contact and joint engagement, both of which are very important in facilitating effective communication. Ball rolling can also be used to facilitate expressive (using language) and receptive (understanding language) language development. I often use it to stimulate a verbal request for “ball,” verbal production of “go” by using the verbal prompt “ready, set…..” and for following simple directions. It takes practice, repetition and exposure for baby to develop ball rolling interest and skills. So if baby shows minimal interest at first, don’t give up! You will likely have to go get the ball and re-engage baby several times. Baby is learning! Try to incorporate short bouts of play in your daily activities with baby. Rolling cars/trucks/bus back and forth works too! My baby and I really like OBall products. Their light-weight, webbed design makes them easy to grab, grasp, hold, and release. My son loves his OBall Rainstick Rattle Ball. The rattle helps to keep his attention and it’s nice and big, great for tiny hands. He also loves his OBall cars.
The simple task of ball rolling helps to practice all kinds of developmental skills. I challenge you to engage a baby in a game of ball today. Have fun!