Let’s just get it out there—this child before you…what a miracle!! Yes, it can be exhausting with interrupted sleep and your non-stop concern over whether or not you’re doing things ‘right’. So let me reassure you right here and now—relax! If all you do is give your newborn child your time and attention (ie, bond with your child), meet their needs in terms of feeding, diaper-changing, sleep and necessary immunizations you’re doing great! Giving birth is a gigantic effort—Mom needs to recover a bit as well…add 6 weeks more if she had to have a C-section. Once everyone’s gotten settled into a new normal you can look below to see what you can do to support your little babe’s development.
The general early childhood developmental domains are: physical, cognitive, emotional and social. Babies learn through their 5 senses—touch, hearing, vision, smelling and taste—so you’ll want to choose activities that incorporate or use them in some way. I truly believe every parent wants to do what they can to insure their child reaches their fullest potential. The best way to do that is to create stable, secure attachments and relationships—with infant to parent or infant to caregiver—so the growing child has security in that relationship to risk. All growth and development requires some kind of risk! Children need to know they can follow their curiosity and desire to learn—which inherently will include mistakes and errors—and not be punished for it, but rather encouraged.
READ to your baby! YES, read! Select books with rhyming text—or songs to be sung—and pictures with contrasting patterns and bright colors. She’ll love hearing your voice—the intonations, animation, audibility—and internalize it as her brain is on hyper-speed learning—reading is a perfect activity for Cognitive Development plus aiding language skills. Babies grow and develop faster during the first year of life than at any other time. In fact, your baby’s brain doubles in size during their first year; and the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls coordination and balance, triples in size! This cozy reading time together also impacts your baby’s Emotional and Social Development helping him to develop a sense of trust and attachment. Click singing Songs and Rhymes to share with your baby.
TUMMY TIME! This is critical stuff folks! Since the campaign to have babies sleep on their backs, because it reduces the risk of SIDS, plus transporting babies with car seats that have special features allowing them to stay in the same ‘base’ and be moved to car seat to stroller with ease, little ones nowadays spent much of their time on their backs. However, babies NEED to be on their bellies too! All that back time might mean that his head, neck, and shoulder muscles aren’t getting enough exercise. Tummy time is the fix! When you put your baby on her tummy she’ll lift her head to look around at you and at things—lifting her head and moving it strengthens her muscles in her neck, shoulders, and torso. It helps him to develop the curves in his spine that’ll help him first sit up, then stand up. All of this, of course is Physical Development. Another group of muscles you might not have thought of are getting stronger too during tummy time…eye muscles! While he lifts his head and looks around his eyes muscles are helping to focus and see objects or faces.
There are various activity gyms available that would be a great addition for Tummy Time. They usually have a baby safe mirror to highlight baby’s facial features; plus many other multi-sensory, developmental activities to make tummy time engaging. Often they’re made of soft linen and includes a tummy time supportive pillow for those little ones who can’t hold their heads up for extended periods.
Begin tummy time periods straightaway, but make them short—maybe 1-2 minutes—and ALWAYS SUPERVISED!! 3x/day, working up to 5-7 minutes 3x/day for total tummy time activity of 15-20 minutes.
Look for these benefits-that build upon each other-starting from Tummy Time:
- When your baby is 2 months old: Gains control over neck movements
- When your baby is 3 months old: Props self up with forearms and holds head at 45 degrees from floor
- When your baby is 4 months old: Can sit with support of her hands and lifts her head vertically
- When your baby is between 5 & 6 months: Can sit with support of only 1 arm and can roll from front to back
- When your baby is between 7 & 8 months: He manages to get up on his hands and knees, might crawl
- When your baby is between 9 & 10 months: She pulls herself up to a stand and holds on to furniture to move along
- When your baby is between 11& 12 months: Expect his first independent step…and then be ready to run after him!
Yours in Play!