Believe it or not you’re baby is ready to start following basic commands on their own now! A few weeks ago we talked about imitation of motor actions. With that constant repetition, modeling, and physical prompting, your child will begin following directions spontaneously. Our advice is to keep it consistent and simple – you can even choose one or two commands to work on every few days so that they have repeated exposure. Below are some of the earliest commands we recommend targeting with your child:
“Give me” – you can use an open hand cue at first to show them that they have to place something in your hand “Come here” you can bring your arms out at first and gesture toward you; before crawling or cruising they may just reach their arms out which is appropriate “Clap hands” – soon they will even begin clapping when everyone else claps during shows – so socially appropriate! “Kiss” – once it is part of a routine they may initiate this when people are leaving since they will associate it with this action; you can also target this by giving kisses to dolls and stuffed animals.
“Wave Bye-Bye” – always try to practice this when people are leaving your home – we always go out into the hallway and wave until our family and friends get in the elevator.
“Sit Down” – this is great to work on once they are able to stand “Eat”/”Drink” – this of course is usually instinctual, but it’s a great opportunity to attach an action word to the action.
“Throw the ball”/”Roll the ball” – once again you may want to reach out your hands as you say the commands to show them what they need to do; this will lead to turn taking with a ball… the foundation of having a basic conversations!
“Open”/“Close” – we usually target this with cause and effect toys such as pop-up toys or even simple boxes; you can also use the doors in the house or of the refrigerator “Clean up” – they may not do this independently yet, but it is great to introduce early on while singing the clean up song to show them what is expected.
“Put it in”/”Take out” – play time and clean up time is the perfect time to target these commands; blocks and basically anything you can put in and take out – they love doing this too once they realize how objects relate to each other.
“Jump”/”Bounce” – they obviously cannot jump yet, but you can start targeting this on your lap or on the side of your hip.
“Push” – it is best to target this when playing with toys like transportation items or anything on wheels.
“Go” – transportation toys are excellent for this too as well as ball drops or garages; once they begin cruising or running it is a great command to target along with “walk” and “run” to get them moving and racing “High 5” – you can reach your hand out at first to show them how it is done… ultimate praise for little one! “Pick it up” – this is a great opportunity to work on fine motor skills by picking up small items and even gross motor skills such as bending their knees to reach the ground; we often target this when items are thrown to the ground and we go and retrieve it “No”/”Stop” – as parents we find ourselves saying these two words often; we advise you to say it in a stern voice so that they understand what they are doing is an undesired behavior; you can also wave your index finger from left to right to make it even more meaningful… soon they will start saying it to you! 😉