When do Babies Play With Their Feet?
Babies are born with the instinct to move and explore their environment, and one of their favorite activities is playing with their own feet. This behavior is seen in infants as young as a few weeks old.
Developmental psychologists and pediatricians agree that self-stimulating behaviors such as playing with the feet are signs of healthy development in babies. Here is an overview of when babies start playing with their feet, and how it is beneficial for them.
When Does Self-Footplay Begin?
Playing with their feet is generally one of the earliest self-stimulating behaviors that babies engage in. Most babies start to show interest in their feet from when they are just a few weeks old.
At first, the movements are slow and erratic but over time, they become more fluid and controlled as the baby grows and develops better motor control. It is important to note that all babies develop at different rates so the exact age when a baby plays with his or her feet may vary slightly.
Why Is Footplay Important?
Playing with their feet helps babies develop sensory and motor skills. Foot-kicking and grabbing motions facilitate muscle and coordination development, while the resulting movement and reactions of the feet help build a sense of self-awareness.
Exploring the feet also helps babies understand the concept of cause and effect by evaluating the consequences of their actions. Self-stimulation during this age is also important for regulating emotions, as playing can be calming for an infant’s heightened emotions.
How To Promote Footplay?
Here are some tips to encourage healthy footplay:
- Allow naked time: Letting babies spend some time without clothes on encourages them to explore and stretch different body parts.
- Place toys near their feet: Placing interesting, sensory-filled toys near the baby’s feet can distract and engage them.
- Interact with their feet: Use antics or laughter when interacting with the baby’s feet to inspire movement and engagement.
- Provide a safe environment: Make sure the baby has plenty of space and support to play and explore safely.
Playing with the feet is a normal and beneficial activity for babies, so don’t be discouraged if you notice your infant engaging in this behaviour. Allow them to explore and have a secure, safe environment to do so. Remember to keep supervision at all times.