Every home is different, but here are some options for you to be able to swiftly encourage milestone development during your normal, everyday life. While they do have their benefits, child growth and development doesn’t require fancy play centers, playgroups, and activity centers. Here you will find easy ways to integrate child milestone development right into the daily family life at home. Here is information on child development to get you started.
If you just read the word “milestones” and still aren’t so sure what that means, you are not alone! You can also pop on over to The Child Mind Institute to learn more about what milestones are.
You don’t need a bunch of fancy equipment to help your child reach their milestones, even if they show signs of delay. I hope that this list of ideas will spark ideas of your own so that your family’s needs can be met in ways that work for you.
That is really what the natural environment is all about. Contrary to its name, it isn’t about green trees and blue skies or organic fruits and vegetables. The natural environment is wherever your child spends their time. Often, it is considered their home, but it could be the library, or the park, or grandma’s cabin. The point is that the natural environment is somewhere that is a recognizable, comfortable, and safe place for your child.
It just so happens that this magical place is where most of their development takes place, and that is why it is so important to use these spaces effectively for the naturally-occurring learning opportunities they provide!
How to Support Milestone development at home
For starters, I would like to kick off this list with a few overarching ideas to support development right in the day-to-day tasks of everyday life at home. There is so much development to be had by involving your child in things that are done in and around the home.
ONE: PUT THEM TO WORK
Playing and chores alike help your child reach their developmental milestones. In order to reach fine motor milestones and gross motor milestones, those little muscles need to be challenged!
TWO: INTEGRATE INTO YOUR LIFE
If you are doing laundry, your kiddo can help push laundry baskets to develop their gross motor muscles. If you are making pancakes, they can pop little chocolate chips in one by one to work on fine motor skills. Setting aside extra time for your baby’s milestones is not always necessary.
THREE: SHARE WITH YOUR BABY
In some ways, treating your infant or toddler to a friendly conversation is all that it takes to give them a little extra boost in communicative and cognitive development. Talk to your baby, share your interests, show them your work. This will strengthen their understanding of your spoken
language, and encourage them to use their mouths and faces for communication, too!
5 WAYS TO SUPPORT YOUR CHILD’S MILESTONES IN THE
1. Support your child’s Development with family workouts
Family workouts are a great way to support milestone development and health and wellness of the whole family! Use at-home workouts to ensure that your baby gets in their tummy time (and more!) is to encourage your baby to work out with you. If you lift weights, your mischievous 18-month-old can lift his stuffed animals, books, wooden blocks, or whatever else may be around.
Or, maybe you are more of a yoga mom, and you and your toddler can work on balancing poses or squats like chair pose or goddess pose. You’ll feel great not only because you got in some exercise time – but also because you are helping your child become stronger!
2: Support developmental milestones in the kitchen
Use meal preparation times to your advantage! Cooking with kids in the kitchen offers powerful experiences for child growth and development. If you like to bake, offer your little one some dough to smash and squeeze between their fingers. Their blossoming fine motor skills, like handwriting, will thank you.
Baking is often rich in sensory experiences as well; the smells, the
textures, the tastes! Sensory-rich experiences like these are integral to the healthy development of the sensory system.
There’s more; cooking offers opportunities to develop direction-following and other cognitive development as well.
The next time your game-day guacamole needs smashing, you’ll know who to call.
3: Support motor skill development with chores
We know how much of your days are filled with laundry. It feels like it’s a never-ending cycle (no pun intended). Why not recruit some help? Your little one can help you out at their level. If they are able to distinguish between colors and reach, grab, and place objects, then they can
separate your whites from your colors. Maybe that is a bit too advanced: instead, they can take your sorted piles and throw them in the washing machine. When you’re done, have them push, pull, drag, carry – whatever they can manage – that laundry basket to its destination.
This strengthens so many skills. We’re talking fine motor, gross motor, cognitive, and sequencing skills. Plus, you can make something as dull as laundry day a bit more interesting.
4: Promote child development with day-to-day tasks
Supporting cognitive milestones can be done right in the home. Anytime you need to get some grown-up desk work done, your child can do their work, too! Offer them a pencil and paper – I am sure they would love it if they got to use something from your work bag – and let them get to it! Now they are kept busy so that you can have a few
moments to complete your schedule, email your colleagues, or document your tasks that week.
Allowing them the opportunity to use various writing utensils, instead of just one kind of chunky crayon, gives their little hands and fingers a challenge.
Strengthening their grasp will improve handwriting outcomes as well as things like dressing ability (hello, buttons and zippers!) and independent skills in achieving feeding developmental milestones. Not to mention the visual motor development that coloring can offer.
5. Support child development with downtime
Some days, all you can do is keep everyone alive. Maybe it’s putting on some Bee Gees and dancing to their classic hits because if you didn’t, mental breakdowns would ensue.
Dancing is great for growing bodies! Or maybe you just need time away inside of a good book, and your baby can cuddle your chest while you read. They can also peruse a book of their own while you take your escape. No matter their age or abilities, don’t overwhelm yourself, do what you need to do to keep your family safe and happy.
Looking for more? Click here to learn more about occupational therapy for babies!
For more ideas on milestone development and child development, head over here to get ideas for play based on your child’s age.
- Woods, J. (2008). Providing early intervention services in natural environments. The ASHA
Leader, 13(4). https://doi.org/10.1044/leader.FTR2.13042008.14
- Butcher, K. & Pletcher, J. (2016, December). Cognitive development and sensory play. Michigan State University Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/cognitive_development_and_sensory_play
- The Center for Vision Development. (2020). Visual motor integration.
Sydney Thorson, OTR/L, is a new occupational therapist working in school-based therapy. Her
background is in Human Development and Family Studies, and she is passionate about
providing individualized and meaningful treatment for each child and their family. Sydney is also
a children’s author and illustrator and is always working on new and exciting projects.