by Kristen Fescoe • November 01, 2016
Those first few precious months of life can be hectic. In a blur of sleeplessness and adjustment to a new baby, simply making it through the day can take all of our energy. Who has time to think of ways to make sure you are helping baby in her development? These are five simple activities that you can do with your baby to promote excellent growth and development.
An excellent way to engage baby from the very beginning is to reposition her often. By changing positions you can do a lot more than simply switch their view. By switching positions regularly you can avoid flattening of the head and help work all of babies muscle areas. Spending time in different positions works different muscle groups and helps baby prepare for important milestones coming up like holding up her head, rolling over and pulling her little legs into the air.
A simple way to keep baby engaged and at play is by using an activity mat or play gym, even at this young age. You can find many different themes and types of these centers, but what they have in common is various ways to activate the sensory system. Most are brightly colored with sounds, things to look at and even things to grab and move. At this age range baby will likely watch, but watching is very important for development.
When baby first comes home, many new mothers struggle to get out of the house. A simple trip to the grocery store can seem daunting. It’s important to keep in mind that traveling out of the house is a sensory experience for baby. Whether this is a simple walk around the block or a trip to visit a relative, the senses become enlivened when you take your little one somewhere new. The entire sensory system lights up with new sights, smells and sounds. Outdoor time is a sensory wonderland for babies with so much to take in.
From the time your baby comes home you can begin introducing the idea of tummy time. While holding up her head might not be possible, offering time spent on the belly gives baby a chance to start working towards this breakthrough. Until baby can begin to lift her head, you can put your hand on babies bottom to help the mechanics by shifting her weight from front to back. You can also roll up a blanket and place it underneath of her chest to boost her upwards. An easy way to begin tummy time is to place baby on your chest and allow her to begin holding her weight up. It is not only good for her body, but offers an excellent bonding opportunity for Dads and other grown-ups in baby’s life. Make sure that while engaging in tummy time you are always closely supervising.
This skin-to-skin contact was popularized by its use in NICU’s around the country, but now kangaroo care is being encouraged in the home. No longer just for sick or small babies, direct skin contact helps baby soothe, bond and feel comfortable in their surroundings. The more skin contact they experience the more they will feel comfortable and at ease.
These are just a few of the easy ways you can help baby start life as engaged and stimulated as possible.