As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve been incorporating more mom stuff into my blog. I’m pretty sure when I first got pregnant, I said I wouldn’t post a lot of mommy stuff, but here I am, posting mommy stuff. Haha! And they’re seriously my favorite posts to write. 🙂 The fact that I might be able to help someone decide if it is worth getting a travel crib, or what the best sort of exercise is for them. I thought it would be fun to start a post series about how to play with your baby at each stage, why it’s important, and how it helps your baby grow and develop. My mom teaches child development, so my entire life I’ve been hearing about how children grow and develop, and the best ways to help them grow and develop. My mom also helped me with this post to make sure I was giving you all the best and correct information 🙂 So here we go…
Babies brains are like sponges absorbing everything and have more neurons than anyone else. Their brain is creating synapses and laying down neurological connections. Babies use all of their senses to learn so it’s important to give them things to stimulate all of their senses. It will create more synapses and neurological connections. At sensitive points in their development, your babies brain does synaptic pruning, where it prunes off the unnecessary connections in order to strengthen the important ones. So if you are not stimulating your babies brain and encouraging those connections, the brain will decide to “prune” off the connection that is not being used. Interacting with your baby in the ways listed below, we stimulate their senses creating more connections and lay down a strong foundation for future learning.
- Sing & Talk. This will help with language development, as well as memorization when they’re a little older. As their brain is creating pathways and connections, singing and talking to your baby will lay down the pathways for language. The more they hear language through speaking and singing, the stronger the connections are for their brain and language development. Singing simple nursery rhymes that are repetitive are the best for language development.
- Mimic Their Noises & Facial Expressions. Repeating noises and facial expression is good for their cognitive development (intellectual/learning development). If they see you making their same faces and noises, they’ll try to make that face/noise again. Soon they’ll be trying to mimic new facial expressions and noises they see/hear from you. In addition, it helps them to know they have a cause and effect on you. They’ll know that they’re being heard and that you can read their cues. Mimicking facial expressions also helps with their social skills.
- Move Their Arms & Legs. Play patty cake and move their legs like a bicycle. It’s great for their physical development which is directly related to cognitive development. So moving their arms and legs not only helps with their muscle tone, but it also helps them gain knowledge. When you show them how to move, you’re helping to make those brain connections for them. They’ll start to make those movements on their own sooner than they would have if you hadn’t shown them how.
- Tummy Time. All babies develop in the same pattern called the cephalocaudal and proximodistal principle. Which basically means they develop from the head down, and the spine outward. Tummy time helps to first strengthen their neck and shoulder muscles, and then their core. Tummy time is key for them to build strength so they can roll over. The American Pediatric Association tells people to sleep babies on their back to lower the risk of SIDS, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give them supervised tummy time. It is so important for their development! When Hazel first started doing tummy time at 12 days old, she would fuss the entire time and could only lift her head in short, jerky movements. We only gave her tummy time for 5 minutes at a time, but she gradually started spending more and more time on her tummy. Now she loves it and can lift her entire upper body up. Once your baby can lift up high, you can roll them from side to side to teach them to roll over.
- Baby Sit-ups. In case you’re wondering what a baby sit-up is, it’s when you pull them up into the sitting position (like in the picture above). They’ll be bobble head-ish at first so you’ll want to lower them back down when their head flops over, but it will help strengthen their neck muscles because they have to work against gravity to keep their head up.
- Give Them Something To Look At. Babies vision is not completely developed when they’re born so it’s important for you to give them a lot of things to look at while their vision develops. And a TV, iPad, etc. doesn’t count. There are many studies that show they can be harmful to your babies development. Right now, your face is their favorite toy, so give them lots of face to face time. Another great thing to show them is black and white pictures. The high contrast is easiest for them to see which will help develop their vision.
- Narrate Your Day. “We’re feeding the dog”, “Mommy is folding clothes”, etc. They are hearing and learning as you talk about your day. By narrating your day, your baby is connecting what you’re saying to real objects. When you’re narrating your day, don’t do ‘baby talk’. It’s fine when you’re interacting face to face with your baby, but when you’re talking about things around you, you want to call things by their proper name. i.e., say “bottle”, not “baba”. Another benefit of narrating your day is that by talking about the typical things around you, it helps your baby to make sense of their day.
- Give Them Different Textures To Touch. Giving them different textures is a good way to stimulate their sense of touch. It gives them more information to learn and process. They are in the sensory motor stage and take in a lot of information by feeling objects and putting them in their mouth. Giving them different textures to touch and manipulate, will help them learn.
- Read Books. Reading books is a good habit to start as a parent. It helps with their language development. It also teaches them to love books which will help with future education. But try to read real books with pages you can turn and not on an iPad. It’s important to limit your babies screen time. Best to save it for face timing with family 😉
I hope you liked this post! I’ll be sharing more tips on playing and interacting with your child as Hazel grows 🙂