Baby Lifts

Start with baby on his tummy facing you. Put your hands around baby’s chest and raise him to the upright position keeping his feet on the ground. Lean him very slowly to the left and then the right, waiting for him to
keep his head in line with his body. Lean him just a little way forwards and then backwards as well. Do a maximum of 5 repeats. A good time to do this is at every nappy change.

Role Models

Do your postnatal exercises with baby somewhere safe where he can watch you. You should do these activities daily until your post natal check up at six weeks. One of the best forms of exercise is walking. All you need is comfortable clothing and suitable footwear. Choose walks that suit prams and buggies. Start slowly and gradually build up your distance and pace. Start doing activities you enjoy. This could be as simple as yoga, strength and flexibility exercises or aerobics. Clear a space in the lounge and have baby in a comfortable position on the carpet. If you belong to a gym, sport clubs or compete in sports teams, take baby along to watch you.


Rolling Over (4-6 months)

With baby lying on her back, encourage her to turn her head in one direction. Place a brightly coloured lightweight toy within her arms reach. Bend baby’s legs up towards her tummy, at the knees, and use her
legs to roll her over in that direction. Help her untangle her underneath arm. This is a good exercise to do after each nappy change, doing a different side at each change.

Sit Ups

Start with baby lying on her back. Put your hands behind baby’s shoulders and bring her up into
sitting. Repeat the movement up to 5 times daily. At each nappy change is a good time. Say “1, 2, 3 and up”. Watch for baby to help with this movement. When she is lifting her head from the floor, she will be using her
core muscles.

Knee Rides

You must be seated on a strong, upright dining or kitchen chair. Sit baby on one of your knees facing you. Move your bottom to the edge of the chair. Use a good rhythmical nursery rhyme to move baby up and down on your knee, slowly. Suit the movements to the rhythm of the words of the song. Do an extra large bounce on important words.

Peek a boo

Move from one side of baby to the other to encourage baby to turn her head. Hide your eyes and face (but not your whole head) behind something and surprise baby when you reveal your face. She will gradually
learn the game.

Hand Activities

Offering her toys from directly in front will help her learn to use both arms together while looking at the toy.
Encourage reaching out and grasping by bringing arms forward in front of the body.

Suitable Toys

Baby uses the five senses - sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste - to learn. Choosing a variety of toys that use all these senses will help to build his abilities. Baby learns the most from the sense of touch. Make sure his toys are available to him by placing them close.

Pull Ups (7-9 months)

Allow baby the time to develop this skill on his own. Place baby in a standing position once he is able
to pull himself up. This is an indication he has developed the muscle capacity necessary to stand. Select a suitable piece of solid low furniture for baby to practice pulling himself up to standing.

Stair climbing (10-12 months)

Encourage baby to climb on to the couch and teach her how to get down backwards. Teach baby how to climb stairs and how to get down backwards, feet first. Allow baby to gain confidence with 2-3 steps before attempting more.


Stand & Walk

Teach your toddler to walk sideways and backwards with one or both hands held. Stand a distance away and encourage him to walk and then run up to you. Provide praise and encouragement at his attempts to walk.

Follow The Ball

Roll a light-weight ball across the grass and encourage your toddler to retrieve it and bring it to you. Roll the ball in different directions each time and encourage her to follow. Repeat until either of you gets tired.

Follow Me

Tie a piece of wool through a small box or container for your toddler to pull, or purchase or hire a pull-along-toy. Encourage her to pull it along the floor on the carpet, lino, concrete, grass, dirt and other surfaces. Drop it over the side of a chair, or into a box and give her the end of the wool to pull it back up with.

Falling Objects

Sit your toddler on a box or tree stump so she can see the ground. Drop some leaves in front of her so she can watch them fall to the ground. Now give her the leaves and let her drop them with either hand. Repeat several times.

Let's Build

Provide your toddler with a set a blocks to play with (these can be homemade using wood or cardboard boxes). Build a tower with the blocks, let him knock them down, then rebuild them for him again and again. Then encourage him to build up the blocks himself.

Let’s Climb

Provide your toddler with a large cardboard box or washing basket to climb in and out of. Teach her how to hold on to the sides, lift one leg over the side and then the other. Use the words up, down, in and out for this activity.


Blow up two or three brightly coloured balloons and tie a length of string around the end of each one. Suspend them in a doorway or where your toddler can reach them. Hit the balloons up in the air for her to watch and then encourage her to join in and copy you.

Wash The Car

Provide your toddler with a bowl or bucket of soapy water and a sponge and encourage her to help you wash the car. Allow her to experiment with washing other items such as her tricycle, toys, dolls, the fence and clothes. She may even choose to climb into the bucket and wash herself.


Tie a fine ribbon to the end of a stick or straw. Teach your toddler how to blow it to make it move. Blow the ribbon in his direction so that it flutters in his face. Give your toddler bubblesoap to blow (page 14).

Sand Castles

Take a bucket and a spade on your next visit to the beach. Show your toddler how to make sand castles. Collect shells and driftwood to decorate the sand castles.


Walk Tall

Help your preschooler to balance a sand bag or small folded towel on her head. Practice walking around the room together balancing your sand bags or towels on your heads. Try not to let them fall. Sit down on a chair while still balancing your sand bags or towels on your heads, and stand up again.

Marching Soldiers

Use some rhythmic music or make your own rhythm by clapping or beating a drum (see page 16). Have your preschooler move around the room stepping to the beat. Ask her to be a soldier marching with her back straight and her head held high. Once she has established a rhythmic pattern ask her to swing her arms at her sides as she marches.


Pretend to be a statue and ask your preschooler to copy the way you are standing. Change your position to be a different statue and let her copy you again. Take turns at being the statue, copying each others poses. Invite her friends to join in the game encouraging everyone to take turns at being the leader. Use the names for body parts during this activity.

Horse and Cart

Find a large cardboard box and help your preschooler decorate it with wheels and colours so that it resembles a cart. Attach a loop of skipping rope or string to the box as a harness. Have your preschooler pretend to be the horse and pull the cart by putting the harness around her waist. This can be a useful game when tidying up because she can put all her toys into the cart and take them to her room.


Attach a tissue or piece of crepe paper to your preschooler’s wrists and ankles. Encourage him to stretch out his arms and pretend to be a bird, flapping his arms so that the streamers follow his arm movements. Then encourage him to run around the garden flapping his wings.

Hide and Seek

Play hide and seek inside or within a defined play area outside. Show your preschooler some hiding places and then close your eyes and count to ten slowly. Go and look for him. Take turns at hiding.


Show your preschooler how to hit a medium sized (15 cm), lightweight ball around the garden with a paper towel tube or rolled up newspaper. Encourage her to hit the ball hard so that it travels a long way. (If her play area is restricted in size have her hit it towards a concrete wall or garage door). Lie some hoops on the ground two metres apart and encourage her to hit the ball into the middle of each hoop.

Sledge Rides

After a spell of wet weather take your preschooler and his friends for a walk in the bush. Talk about what you are seeing. Look for a large nikau palm leaf that has fallen to the ground and then find a long, gentle slope. (Take a sheet of polythene in case you can’t find a leaf).

Construction Site

Save your empty cardboard boxes for your preschooler to build with. Find a spare corner in the house where she and her friends can construct a house using empty cereal boxes, egg cartons, plastic containers, and large cardboard boxes. To make it more permanent, help them to sellotape the boxes together so that they don’t topple over. Encourage them to play imaginary games in their house.


Give your preschooler the opportunity to observe you working in the garden; weeding, planting, pruning, fertilising and harvesting. Explain to them the reasons why you are doing what you are doing. Point out things of interest like a seedling pushing through the soil, new leaves and buds, a plant flowering. Watch her progress each day. Look together for insects in the garden and talk about what each one does. Let her watch a caterpillar, or other insect, eating a plant.

All activities are from the Sport Waikato Kiwi Manuals - free to all babies born in the Waikato. Copies can also be purchased (hard copy or download) from the Sport Waikato website shop.

30 Things to do with your under fives

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