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Active play for your baby

Because babies spend so much time sleeping and feeding, it’s important that you encourage movement and active play by interacting with them while they’re awake.

The kind of activity a baby needs is dependent on their level of development. At birth, a baby's movements are instinctive and reflexive. However, as they grow, they soon learn to control their arm and leg movements. With this control, babies can begin to reach with their arms and hands, kick their legs, and lift and move their bodies to balance in different positions.

Movement and active play is vital for your baby, and is necessary for their physical and social development.

tummy time

No two babies are the same – and so while most go through the stages of development in the same order, growth rates and the timing of development vary from baby to baby. 

It’s important for your baby’s physical development and movement skills that they spend some of their ‘awake’ time on their tummy each day*. This daily "tummy time" will help your baby to strengthen their neck and back muscles while teaching them to hold their body weight with their arms. From here, a baby will learn to push up onto their hands and knees and before you know it, they’ll be onto the next stage – crawling.

Crawling is a skill that typically starts at about 7 months of age, along with other skills such as sitting, pulling to stand, standing and cruising.

At around 12 months, your baby will move out of "babyhood" and into young childhood and at this point will learn to walk independently. During this period, it’s important to help your young child practise their walking skills by encouraging them to move from sitting to standing to walking. Also help them practise walking in different directions, on different surfaces and while carrying things.

If you are concerned about a child’s development, parents can contact the ACT Government's Child Development Service Intake Line on 6205 1246. Anyone can contact the Intake Line to discuss services, such as free drop-in clinics for physiotherapy and speech pathology. More information can be found on the Child Development Service website . 

* Tummy time does not apply to sleep time. From birth, it’s very important to follow safe sleeping guidelines and put your baby on his/her back to sleep. This decreases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and sleeping accidents.

 Factsheet - Baby’s first steps to play