Shaking games

Infants from the age of 5-6 months take great pleasure in shaking toys that make a noise.

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New toys are shaken to see if they will produce a pleasing sound. If they make no noise the infant will stop the shaking action. 

But if the toys does make a noise, the infant continues to explore how different movements make different sounds.  They vary their actions, speed up and slow down  and stop and start. 

Shaking toys gives the infant lots of practice doing rhythmical repeated actions. This seems to connected in some way to the emergence of repeated sound babbling such as ba ba ba or ma ma ma. 

Shaking different toys allows the infant to connect the outcome of movements (the sounds that are produced) with the sensory feedback (proprioception) from the joints and muscles, and helps to build a rich library of motor plans for producing different outcomes. 

Video clip

In this clip you see Toesies (11 months) playing with a shaker. 

Notice how he varies his movements and shares his pleasure in the sounds he makes with me by vocalizing, smiling and looking at me at the same time. 

He also passes the rattle from one hand to the other, changes his grip on the shaker and visually inspects it.  

At one stage he drops the shaker and it lands out of reach. To get it back he requests my help by vocalizing, looking at me and then looking back at the shaking and reaching towards it. 

How to encourage your infant to explore shaking

Provide your infant with a variety of different toys that will make a noise when shaken. 

Traditional rattles are good because they usually have a handle that is easy to grasp. 

Musical shakers with bells are also good options. 

Small easy to hold plastic bottles make good shakers. You can put different things inside the bottles to produce different sound - a handful of rice or beans, one or more pebbles or short dowel sticks. Just make sure the lid is firmly secured - gluing them on is the safest way to do this. 

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Sit down facing you infant and play shaking games

Your presence and participation will motivate your infant to spend more time playing shaking games. 

Pick up a rattle, shake it a few times and pass it to your infant. 

Hold another rattle in your hand so that you can take turns in shaking.  

Vary your actions.  Go faster, slow down, stop and start. Keeps these bouts quite short - just a few seconds at a time and then stop and give your infant a change to shake his/her rattle. 

After a while, or if the infant starts to loose interest, present him/her with another toy to shake. 

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