A healthy full-term pregnancy, a successful birth, a safe and healthy home environment, and excellent nutrition, including breastfeeding if feasible, are all essential for newborns in their first year of life to get off to a good start. In order to ensure that all infants have a good foundation, the CDC works hard.
The development of an infant begins long before the baby is even born. “A child’s neurological system starts to form in the first week of gestation and is basically in place by the time the mother reaches four weeks of pregnancy,” says Adiaha Spinks-Franklin, MD, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. Dr. Spinks-Franklin works at Texas Children’s Hospital, where she specializes in treating children with behavioral and developmental disorders. Furthermore, a fetus can hear by the time it is 17 weeks old. Therefore, it is never too soon to begin reading to your baby, singing to your baby, or engaging in any other activities geared toward babies to assist and encourage development.
The following are ten strategies to foster your bond with your infant while also promoting healthy baby development, which will assist you in assisting your child in developing language and motor skills, as well as reaching essential milestones:
1. make Eye Contact With Your Infant.
“From the moment a baby is born, the most important thing you can do to help your baby develop motor skills and language is to engage in human contact,” says Kenneth Wible, MD, medical director of the Pediatric Care Center at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Missouri. These facilities are affiliated with the Children’s Mercy Health System in Kansas City, Missouri. “This includes holding the infant near to you, chatting or singing to the baby, and doing other activities that enhance hearing,” the author writes. “This includes keeping the baby close to you.” In addition to this, it is essential to stimulate the baby’s sight. “Make sure that your face is visible to the baby when she is awake. According to research, infants are more interested in things and designs shaped like human faces. “According to Dr. Wible. When the infant is between two and three months old, you should smile a lot so that she can reciprocate. In addition, he says that because infants are born with a vision that is only 20/200, it is essential to keep them close to you to see you correctly.
2. Awaken All Five Senses
In their second and third months of life, babies become more curious about their surroundings and become more aware of their surroundings. Wible recommends that parents let their babies experiment with various textures at this stage. “She should be allowed to touch a variety of surfaces and should be exposed to a wide range of sights and smells. Talk to her about what she’s experiencing while you rub her hand on things that are rough, soft, smooth, cold, or warm.” The infant will not only learn about her surroundings from this kind of extensive exposure, but it will also help her develop her motor skills and language.
3. Allow for plenty of “tummy time.”
“Spending time on her tummy is essential to a baby developing a strong body for movement, including head and trunk control,” says Amelia Miller, MS, chief infant development specialist at La Rabida Children’s Hospital in Chicago. Miller holds a Master of Science degree in infant development and works at La Rabida Children’s Hospital. Beginning tummy time with your baby toward the end of their second month is an excellent way to encourage the development of their motor abilities. First, you should either hold or place your baby on your chest or lap, or you should begin by holding your infant in your arms. After that, you are free to place your child on a blanket spread out on the ground. Because tummy time isn’t an activity that most babies enjoy, you should stop doing it as soon as your child starts to fuss. Tummy time isn’t good for babies.
4. Talk To Your Baby
You can begin assisting your child with her language development from the moment she is born. “In the first to two months, replicate your baby’s initial sounds,” suggests Miller. “Talk to your infant using “motherese,” which is soothing, cheery speech with exaggerated facial expressions.” You may help your baby improve her language and communication abilities between the ages of 4 and 5 months by listening for and copying her initial babbling, such as “ba-ba,” “ga-ga,” and “da-da.” This can be done between the ages of 4 and 5 months. You can let your child know that you are speaking to her personally by using her name or other cue words, such as “Hi, Sweetie,” for example.
When it comes to helping babies improve their language skills, Dr. Spinks-Franklin emphasizes that talks do not need to be overly complicated. For example, when you are at the grocery store, she recommends that you explain to your child what you are doing, such as saying, “I am putting the yellow bananas in the bag.” “Can you describe what you see, what you hear, and what you smell?”
5 .Give the Feeling That You Are Protected
Infants require reassurance that their needs will be addressed from the earliest stages of their development; therefore, you should respond to them when your baby cries.
It is of the utmost importance that parents consistently attend to their children’s needs to foster healthy growth in their children. Miller adds that offering predictable routines and consistent caregiving helps build attachment and trust in the caregiver. In addition, a sense of control can be attained by establishing a routine for the baby’s activities, such as feeding and sleeping. She says that “babies develop into secure and independent youngsters within this setting,” and that’s precisely what happens here.
6. Toys can help make baby activities more fun.
When a baby is around six months old and has the motor skills required to sit up and grab or retrieve objects, it is an excellent time to introduce interactive toys that help with baby development. “Toys that roll will urge a baby to go after them and encourage her to move,” explains Wible. “Toys that light up will also stimulate a baby to go after them.” Additionally, “This is a terrific time for toys that are vibrant, toys that pop up, and items that surprise.”
7. Participate in the Interactive Games.
According to Spinks-Franklin, “about the age of nine months, babies gain object permanence,” which means that they become aware that it may still exist even when something is absent. “At this age, playing Peekaboo is a tremendously entertaining infant game because youngsters get a thrill out of being able to say things like, “You disappeared… and then you came back!” And at this point of development, when babies hide their eyes, they believe that their entire body is concealing itself from view.”
8. Put the TV on standby.
According to Spinks-Franklin, infants do not require televisions or computers for the first year of their lives. This is because exposure to devices like these can be detrimental to a baby’s growth. She explains that the most excellent way for infants to gain language and other skills is through direct human connection since infants want instant feedback. “The feedback that kids get from TV is completely fabricated.” A youngster, for instance, will not receive the appropriate praise or criticism from the characters in a television program even if they call an object by the correct or incorrect name while they are watching the program. However, when a baby is engaged in a baby activity with a parent, such as reading a book together, the parent will say things to the baby such as “Yes, that’s correct!” or “No, that’s a cow,” according to Spinks-Franklin.
9. Keep Business Words Separate From Baby Activities
According to research, the quantity and quality of the words that infants hear significantly impact how well they develop their language skills. “Business” words are words that parents use to give a child a command, such as “Put on your shoes” or “Brush your teeth,” and “nonbusiness” words are words that are used in general conversation, such as “Wow — you put your shoes on the right feet, you have two shoes, and they are blue!” “Business” words are words that parents use to give a child a command, such as “Put on your shoes.”
Spinks-Franklin explains that research has shown that nonbusiness words are the most effective for assisting children in developing their language skills. Therefore, the amount of vocabulary outside of the realm of business that a youngster is exposed to has a significant bearing on how well that child does in kindergarten.
10. Give Your Baby What She Needs
According to Wible, “research constantly points to the human relationship between parent and infant as being most vital to newborn development.” “Never stop talking to your baby, holding her, and giving her that personal time and face-to-face contact as she grows from a newborn to an infant to a toddler. Do this the entire time she is in your care. These are the most crucial things that can be done with a baby.”