Moms know that child stimulation starts in the womb. However, once baby has made his or her arrival, parents sometimes get so caught up in the basics of taking care of a newborn, that they neglect to pay attention to stimulation that plays a crucial role in the development of this tiny brain.
Especially if you’re a working parent, these easy ways to stimulate your baby throughout the day will fit into your routine perfectly.
Babies’ eyes, just like all other parts of their bodies, are just adjusting to the big new world outside the womb. Babies can only focus from short distances away, and this is why it is so important to take advantage of the ideal location of your baby when you are feeding. When breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your baby, look at your baby and use facial expressions that will catch their eye. Stick out your tongue, frown and smile, and you’ll soon see baby mimicking these expressions in what is their first act of recognition and problem solving. Don’t be afraid to talk and coo to them either – when they do the same, it’s a sign of brain development.
It might not be the most exciting part of having a new baby, but changing their nappy is a chance to establish patterns and routines that babies get used to. Talk to your baby while changing their nappy, and try to incorporate a song or rhyme into the activity. Baby will soon start to associate these actions and words with the routine that makes up their day.
Driving baby around
Many parents deliberately take their baby for a drive when he or she is struggling to fall asleep, but your commute to the crèche is also the time to teach them songs and rhymes, which forms the foundation for language development and even reading later in life. There isn’t much else to do in the car, anyway, and the repetitive patterns of songs and rhymes are interesting, engaging and entertaining for your baby. The playlist is up to you, of course.
As tempting as it might be to let baby entertain herself in the pram while you stock up on the essentials, grocery shopping is another learning opportunity that you shouldn’t pass up on. Describe the colours, shapes, smells and sounds of the grocery store, and let baby touch and smell fruit and vegetables as you put them into the shopping cart. You may think that an infant doesn’t recognise or understand all the different objects around them, but it won’t be long before they start asking for a “‘nana” when you pass the fruit aisle.
Babies love bath time, but this is also your chance to develop math skills from an early age. Once they can, let your baby pour water from one container to another. They’ll start understanding the concepts of cause and effect, gravity and volume. Playing peekaboo with the washcloth teaches baby about object permanence (the awareness that objects continue to exist even when they can’t be seen) and singing songs stimulates language development.
Establishing a bedtime-routine is something that needs to be done from the very start of babies’ lives. Reading stories from books with interesting illustrations stimulates language development and recognition skills. Once your baby has gotten used to the routine associated with going to bed, they will see bedtime as a time to bond with you and to absorb the last bit of knowledge before recharging for a new day.