December 16, 2008
Your baby’s brain development is shaped by her genes—and her environment, interactions and experiences. Give her brain power a boost by engaging her in the world around her—talk to her, touch her, look at her. By stimulating every sense, you will encourage your baby to make the kind of associations that make learning possible.
Facts: Your baby’s brain triples in size from birth to her first birthday. She goes from being completely helpless at birth to walking, talking and eating solid foods by around 12 months. Regular sensory stimulation promotes her learning.
Significance: Think of your baby’s brain as a blank slate. What you expose her to is what she will learn.
Types: You can stimulate your baby in a variety of ways. Give her a change of scenery by moving her crib or bouncy seat. Keep her in the kitchen while you make dinner; it can fire up her visual and olfactory senses. Hold her close and sing to her; you’ll be creating a great bonding experience, and you’ll also be exposing your baby to language. Place her on her belly for some play time; she gets a different vantage point of her surroundings while strengthening her neck and head muscles.
Time Frame: While brain development occurs all through life, most of it takes place in the first 3 years after birth. Make the most of your baby’s waking time by engaging her in the world around her.
Warnings: Pick up on your baby’s cues to learn. The perfect time for one-on-one stimulation is when she’s quiet and alert. If she’s fussy, hungry or tired, wait for another time to engage her.
http://www.pregnancyandbaby.com: She Knows: Pregnancy and Baby
http://www.kidshealth.org: Kids Health for more ideas on how to stimulate your baby
Donna Christiano is an award-winning free-lance journalist who has written extensively on women’s and children’s health for many consumer magazines, including Woman’s Day, Parents, Weight Watchers and others. Donna has also served on the staffs of Glamour and Bride’s magazines. She tries to live a healthy and strong life in New Jersey with her husband and two children.
December 12, 2008
Early infant stimulation can help newborns differentiate between different smells, develop their vision and become comfortable with touch, motion and sounds. Parents who want to reduce the risk of developmental difficulties in their child can engage their newborn in a variety of stimulating activities, thereby encouraging their baby to become comfortable with a wide range of sensory experiences.
Significance: With early infant stimulation, newborns become acquainted with their environment, making it easier to understand the world around them as they grow. Parents who initiate early infant stimulation activities can help their baby become less anxious or afraid when he experiences new sensations and sounds, and the infant can develop strong social, communication and intelligence skills.
Function: Infant stimulation is most appropriate during the initial month of life to reduce stress and encourage healthy development. Babies can tell the difference between patterns and colors, learn what it’s like to relax and differentiate noises and sounds within their first few weeks of life. Making sure the baby has enough healthy inputs in each of these areas can help him feel secure and interested in his environment. Babies who are not meeting their developmental goals may need to enroll in a formal infant stimulation program with a physician or other health care provider.
Types: Any activities that arouse babies’ sense of touch, taste, smell, sight and sound will help them build important developmental skills and nurture their natural curiosity. Early infant developmental activities include singing and talking to the baby, stroking and gently massaging the baby, playing peek-a-boo, giving the baby toys in contrasting colors, responding to the baby’s needs as quickly as possible and allowing the baby to smell and taste different things.
Benefits: Stimulating activities increase an infant’s curiosity and encourages him to try new activities without feeling fearful or anxious. Babies who are stimulated with a wide range of sensory activities during their early developmental stages may also reach development milestones easily, enjoy feelings of security and calm and have longer attention spans. When infants feel secure and loved in their environment, they will be more likely to explore new activities, initiate eye contact with family members and friends, and enjoy a wide range of new activities in their toddler years.
Warnings: Premature babies may be overly sensitive to certain types of stimulating activities such as listening to music, cuddling and looking at bright lights and colors. Parents of highly sensitive infants may need to reduce the level of stimulation with different activities until the baby develops a certain level of tolerance and is eager to continue with the activity. Signs of overstimulation include excessive crying and facial expressions that reflect fear or anger.
Sabah Karimi is an experienced freelance writer who enjoys writing about lifestyle, parenting, and childhood education topics. Sabah runs a web copywriting and marketing consultancy business in Orlando, Florida.