In today’s article I’m going to tell you about the benefits of activities with bouncy balls for babies and what you should pay attention to when choosing an appropriate ball for your little one.
So, why do babies play balls?
We can only wonder, when seeing what a variety of experiences and activities a baby can get from an ordinary ball! The simplest, in our adult view, actions in reality are extremely useful. They develop watchfulness, concentration of attention, emotions and feelings, movements, and even thinking. And often, the child notices and finds multiple secrets and surprises. And it is the very independence and willed activities so welcome by parents.
A ball is a prototype of the Universe. A baby is fascinated while endlessly examining and turning a ball or other spherical object with both hands. Then, once he has just learned to sit and crawl, the baby is always happy, surprised or even angry that the ball always runs from him, and, what is more, in the most unexpected way. The baby cannot walk yet, but the ball encourages him to move.
A ball is an object for a great variety of activities. The baby will learn to clasp and hold round objects by 4-5 months of age, but within the further years of life he will learn to let them go, to roll and throw them with his hands, feet, head, and different devices.
The minimum set of balls for baby
1 small rubber ball,
1-2 soft balls for games at home,
1 bouncy ball for the outdoors.
A ball is an object of observation and experimentation. The baby investigates the qualities and characteristics of different objects, and this is of huge significance for him. So, the child gets acquainted with the world he lives in and masters it. The child learns about the properties of an objective world. For example, it’s possible to hold a tennis ball with one hand and a large inflatable ball – only with both hands. A big ball can be easy, but a small one – heavy.
A big soccer ball fits the father’s hand, and a ping-pong ball fits the child’s palm. And how it’s cool to throw the ball with splashes into the water, to listen to the ball slamming on the floor or ground, asphalt or sand, or to listen to the sound of bells inside the ball.
… But perhaps the most exciting activity for young children is rolling the ball, first with hands and then with feet. And here amusing discoveries happen. A small ball when being thrown slips between the hands of 1 year old child; it’s impossible to quit playing with a soft rag ball and it’s not simple to hit the ball with a leg and direct it towards the goal.
A young child has fun rolling a ball down a slide and trying to roll it up the slide, running with the ball while carrying it with both hands in front of him, and trying to keep his balance on one leg while trying to push the ball with the other leg. This is a very important opportunity for the development of motor coordination and general motor skills of the child’s body.
All these observations are made unconsciously in the early childhood, but as the child is getting older, they become more conscious. His own practical experience and experimentation are the basis of his important independent observations.
Gradually, a ball becomes a means of communication. If a not yet talking baby invites the father to play ball with him, so later he has a desire not just to throw and roll it, but to do these activities in a certain way or for a certain purpose. For example, to roll it down a slide, to roll it into the goal, to throw it into a cart or a ring, to throw and roll the ball to each other, to play football, etc. The ball becomes the basis for important social ability to receive and give.
What are the benefits of ball activities?
The main objective of ball games at an early age is to help your baby learn to cope with different-sized balls (with a small ball that he can hold in one hand, and with a large inflatable ball that he can hold only with both hands), to roll, to catch, to purposefully throw; to use a stick, a club or other suitable tool for pushing and rolling the ball. Despite the seeming simplicity, these games require as good coordination, so an ability to control the body, and even emotional self-control. Similar games require these qualities from the child and develop them at the same time!
Such important components of the overall development as motor skills, spatial awareness, coordination, the concept of “right and left” are extremely important for the development of the baby’s thought and language.
Toys of different materials develop tactile perception and give the baby knowledge of the properties and diversity of the world at the sensory unconscious level.
The vast majority of ball games have a great potential for social development, communication and interaction. Of course, your child can invent different ways of manipulating the balls, but your participation and example are absolutely necessary!
You should pay attention to your internal state and mood while playing with the child – how you are rolling or throwing the ball. You child internally empathizes with your gesture – negligent or careful, rapid or slow, and he internally tends to reflect it. Your positive and cheerful mood in joint plays inspires him to his own activity and desire to be independent.
How to choose a ball
A ball must be comfortable to use and a sense of his own awkwardness must not make him cry!
Bouncing ability. Not only rubber balls can be bouncy, but also woolen ones when stuffed well. A non-bouncing ball can be a rolling one. For example, little glass balls are perfect namely because of their non-bouncing property! Stuffed woolen balls are the best to play at home. The ability to bounce well is especially important outdoors – a non-bouncing ball seems to be “lifeless”.
Heaviness and lightness. For a child who has just started walking, a heavy soccer ball simply cannot be a toy because of its weight and large size. But the senior preschool children really enjoy showing their agility with a variety of balls. It’s very important for a young child to learn how to regulate the force of his hit and the weight of the ball. This gives him a good experience of managing himself and of foresight the results in the very early age. Watch your baby coping differently with a large rubber ball and a light inflatable one.
Color. Though children are attracted with the bright colors, you should not buy too many balls of caustic, catchy and aniline colors. Color perception with the eyes is better developed by the radiant colors of the rainbow, their pastel options and shades.
The surface quality. It is very important for tactile perception. The more natural materials, the richer the experience of manipulation them the child will have.
Coloring. Please note: the ball must not leave its paint on the skin, and its paint must not be ripped off! This can be dangerous for the baby.