All parents want the best for their children and it seems that lately there is even more concern about doing the right things to stimulate growth and development from infancy. Only part of baby’s more than one hundred billion brain cells are pre-wired at birth to deal with automatic responses such as heartbeat, breathing and other physiological functions, the rest is laid down during the first five years of learning. What is learned during the first five years of life will have a significant impact on how well a baby learns and grows throughout the rest of life. Below are 8 ways to stimulate you infant’s growth and development:
1. Infant Brain Stimulation
While experts still find brain development in babies a mystery, what we do know is the important role that natural parenting instincts can play in healthy brain development in infants. In the new high-tech world parents assume that learning through technology is essential for babies to grow and prosper, but it turns out that it is far from the truth and tools like videos can in fact slow down brain development. It is not the videos that are the problem, but that they replace essential contact and one-on-one communication with parents. These tools are good for growth and development, as long as they are in addition to and not a replacement for personal tactile contact.
2. Talk To Your Baby
The best way to stimulate an infant brain is to talk to your baby. Infants need to feel secure and safe and there is nothing more soothing than the sound of a parent’s voice. Talk to your baby all the time while you are going about your chores. This will develop language skills and they will soon try to copy the sounds they hear. Reading to your infant right from the beginning is an excellent way of using voice intonation to stimulate your baby’s growth with your soothing voice.
3. The Human Touch
Human contact is another important way to stimulate the growth and development of an infant. Documented proof exists that babies who are deprived of human contact do not develop normally, become unresponsive, and in severe cases even die. Holding, touching and cuddling an infant helps to meet a deep need for connection. Babies who receive adequate human contact grow and develop much faster than babies deprived of touch.
4. Let You Baby See Your Face
A mother’s face is the one thing an infant focuses on more than anything else. Hold your infant so that your face is always in view and seek eye-contact. Once a baby’s eyes have developed to where they can focus, they will fix on your eyes and this is a golden opportunity to smile and convey love to your infant. Human interaction with emotional content is what is pleasing and meaningful to an infant and is the glue that helps stick what they pick up and learn into their memories.
Apart from the human voice, music is one of the best ways to help stimulate infant growth and development. Play a variety of music for your baby to listen to, including classical music which is known to have a positive impact on brain development. Sing to your baby who will love the combination of music and your voice and doesn’t care if you sing out of tune.
6. Tummy Time
You can stimulate the physical growth of your infant from an early age by encouraging movement. Placing an infant on their tummy will assist in developing neck and back muscles. An easy way is to place the baby on your chest for the first few weeks. After that, they can happily lie on a blanket on the floor. As soon as they become fussy, bring the tummy session to an end and don’t let your baby sleep on his/her stomach.
7. Seeing New Things
Babies can be stimulated by showing them colorful objects and new things to look at. Young infants enjoy looking at patterns, including black and white, and if the objects move it will strengthen eye movement and coordination. Place some objects closer to the baby’s face and others further away to encourage the eyes to adjust to different lengths in space.
8. External Stimulants
Infants are mostly interested in sound and movement and shaking a rattle or squeezing a squeaking toy will catch their interest. Slowly moving brightly colored objects in front of their eyes will encourage them to follow along with their eyes at first and later by turning their heads. Toys that narrate nursery rhymes and songs are great tools to stimulate the growth and development of an infant.
What mattered most to babies, thousands of years ago is still true today: the love and close interaction of a parent is the best learning tool. Experts agree that talking to a baby, playing games, paying attention to them and using things that interest them to further foster curiosity are the building blocks to stimulate healthy growth and development from infancy to adulthood.