Moving and grooving with your child

Dancing is a great activity to try with your baby or toddler - it’s fun and will help develop some key skills.

Woman with babies playing

Introduction

Babies develop through being active and exploring their environment. Dancing together is a great introduction for your baby for being active, experiencing physical exercise and learning to control and use their body well. Dancing with your baby is simply moving to a beat or a song and doesn’t have to involve complex routines!

‘Moving and Grooving’ activities will help your baby develop key skills in all areas of their development such as coordination, balance, flexibility and strength.

Being physical in a creative way will help to boost your baby’s self-esteem and self-confidence, and encourage your baby to explore and make sense of the world that they are living in.

Dancing together is a joyful and relaxing experience that will enhance the bond and attachment you and your baby share together, so why not give it a go!

How CBeebies can help

CBeebies has lots of music to dance along to and specific action songs and rhymes that your baby will enjoy. You can join in with the songs on your child’s favourite shows or you could click on ‘Song Time’ on the CBeebies website (there are loads to choose from).

Songs and rhymes from In The Night Garden are particularly good for babies to move and dance to as they are simple and short with repetitive phrases.

Try dancing with older babies and toddlers to songs from Balamory, Tweenies and Boogie Beebies – these songs encourage actions and simple dance routines for them to copy. Introducing routines will help your child understand order and sequence and anticipate events.

How to make a magic moment

Young babies

Young babies do not need a huge amount of stimulus as they can get anxious and distressed, so keep it simple!

Pick a song (e.g. Iggle Piggle’s song from In The Night Garden). Hold your baby very close and gently waltz to the rhythm of the song while softly humming or singing the song. What do you notice? Is your baby relaxed? Are they attentive to your words or simply snuggled up?

Moving and singing in this way teaches your baby about movements that are not random but repetitive and purposeful and is an excellent way to soothe and calm a distressed or tired baby.

Older babies and toddlers

Make the session more energetic and exciting by incorporating singing into your dance session. Don’t hold back! Use silly voices and exaggerated facial gestures alongside your dance moves to keep your child engaged.

Observe your child. What are they doing? Try imitating them! If they do a dance move, copy them! Mirroring in this way will boost your baby’s self-confidence in their ability to move.

Is your child unsure? Try demonstrating moves and encourage them to copy you. Above all, clap and cheer at your toddler’s effort. There is nothing more adorable than a young child dancing and this activity is guaranteed to relax you and have you both in fits of giggles!

by Karen Emery

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Top tips

  • Start dancing together from the moment your child is born! The benefits cannot be underestimated - even for very young babies.  Introduce simple sensory props into your dance sessions - eg a silk scarf, feathers, or even a percussion instrument. Get expressive! Your baby will copy and imitate you. The more you move and groove the more they will! Choose music, songs and rhymes that are simple, short and repetitive to keep your baby or toddler’s attention. You may get bored of a particular song but they won’t. Make dancing part of your daily routine. Babies begin to develop rhythm skills very early on when they are consistently exposed to music and movement. Rhythm skills are important for pre-literacy and pre-language development.

Expert opinion

Stimulating sensory experience and motor skills through play and physical activity is one of the main pillars of child development.

 

Sally Goddard Blythe, Consultant in neuro-developmental education

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