It turns out that the activities I did with my eldest son, as a baby, to promote developmental growth, are the same ones I learned about when I became an early childhood educator. It is pretty neat to know that as a 22-year old, first-time mom, I was unintentionally promoting my baby’s brain development. I was fortunate to witness my first son reach every milestone right on time, and as a young mom I figured it was nature doing it’s job. Although, more often than not, nature does it’s job; nurture also plays a significant role in those developmental achievements. The activities below came to me innately, as it does to many mothers. It has been awesome to bond with my 3 month-old baby while knowing the benefits associated with each activity.
I love looking into my baby’s eyes because I’m instantaneously overwhelmed with love. We connect while his eyes search for mine and we consequently play a game of pupil “ping-pong.” It helps with his focus and responsiveness while he learns queues of facial expressions.
As soon my babies were born they were carried and placed on my chest for that crucial skin-to-skin contact. I say crucial because touch is imperative for emotional engagement for infants (and I’ll say everyone-right?!). Touch helps calm babies and alleviates stress for mothers/fathers while enjoying delicious cuddles. It’s a win-win. Touch is the infant’s realization of self and another person.
I love playtime with my baby because playing is the best way to learn. (That’s the teacher in me talking). Play is also a great way to measure a baby’s developmental growth. Through play I’ve observed my baby grow from following objects with his eyes to following me by turning his head/body. Playtime can teach babies about cause and effect. For example, I place a plush ball in front of my baby and drop it and he laughs because he knows that I’m going to drop the ball. We practice object recognition as my baby recognizes the toys we use to play. We also play peek-a-boo to work on the cognitive skill of object permanence. My baby is surprised when he sees me emerge from behind my hands because for babies the objects that are not in sight do not exist. When object permanence has been mastered it will help avoid/manage separation anxiety.
It is never too early to start reading. I love reading to my baby because it’s multi-sensorial. By holding my baby and rocking him he is using his sight, hearing, smell and touch. (Tip: read a short book right after a feeding to put baby to sleep).
Bath time is also multi-sensorial. Babies love the touch of still and running water. Once they are “movers”, infants will have so much fun kicking and moving their arms in the water.
Introducing smells to my baby has been a fun way to stimulate brain development. After bath time I introduce the scents of baby lotion and lavender oil before a short massage. I love watching his facial expressions as he experiences the scents.
Crying is the baby’s way of communicating something is wrong and tending to my son and picking him up is my first instinct. It is teaching him not only to self-soothe but also that he is being listened to.
I talk while doing everything with my 3-month old son. Although he is an infant, talking to him is helping his vocabulary develop. This also models communication as he started to babble and coo.
Bonding and relaxing with my baby is as important as stimulating brain development as the activities mentioned above because it’s not only amazing to cuddle with a precious little human but it helps me connect with him as the individual person he is becoming.
(There are more activities that will encourage further brain development as babies grow- will add in future post).