You’ve fed and changed your baby… now what? Here are some tips on what you can do from an early age to stimulate your child and have fun moments together.
1. Talk to them
Studies show that the baby can hear voices while in the womb, and mummy’s voice is the most soothing sound for them. Talk to them about everything all the time – while feeding them, changing them, pushing them in the pram. Talk about what you see, how you and the baby may feel, what they taste. Talking to them lets the baby know that things have names and that there are beautiful ways to express emotions.
2. Touch them
Baby massage is known to have a positive effect, but you don’t have to prepare mats and oils to start. Gently rub the baby when you have the occasion (possibly after a bath, or after changing them). Focus especially on the back from top to bottom, and their fingertips. Skin is the biggest organ in the human body, and by stimulating the skin it gives babies awareness of their own body.
3. Black and White Stimulation
Babies do not have clear vision when they are first born, and they respond better to colours like black, white and red until about three months. Show them pictures with thick black lines and red patterns, swaying it slowly in front of their face. Let their eyes follow the picture and fulfil their curiosity.
4. Mouthing Moments
Babies will put things in their mouths to work out what they are touching. Prepare clean and safe items that are interesting to ‘taste’ and ‘feel’. Always be close to the baby to prevent dangers like choking or gagging, but babies will enjoy textures of things like wooden spoons, silk handkerchiefs, woollen mitts etc. Let them touch things that are bumpy, fluffy, smooth, rough, cold and warm and be sure to introduce the vocabulary while you are doing it.
Peek-a-boo is the easiest way to fascinate a baby. Have a small towel to cover your face or a toy, and let the baby pull it. Sometimes, hang the towel in front of your face, and peek from unexpected places. Repetition and occasional surprise is the best way of interaction.
6. Collapsing before Constructing
Before children can build things with toys, they just love toppling things that you have made for them. Let them collapse! From toilet paper rolls to towels to tuna tins, build and topple with them, and let babies enjoy the sensation, as well as the sound of things falling over! Beware to work on a mat or towel if you are playing with hard objects, so you don’t harm the baby or your floor.
7. Sing and Dance
Playing a CD softly in the background is nice, but singing to the baby with your own voice is much better! Show them your face, how your lips move and facial expressions, and they will start to copy. Studies show that familiar voices will have stronger impression on babies and stay in their memories longer, combined with body movement (soft wiggles and shakes on fingers and toes) will add joy and stimulation to the bub.
8. Tearing Newspaper
Have any newspaper lying around the house? This can be a great toy for babies. They won’t be reading yet so don’t bother trying to teach letters (although you might want to describe about the pictures if there’s anything interesting), it is going to be used for tearing and scrunching. A simple and effective way to strengthen fine motor skills and you can see how well they have developed by looking at the size of things they have torn. Longer and smaller is the key, so encourage them to tear, tear, and tear!
Soft toys are popular for babies, but a puppet is even better as you can use your hands to have deeper interactions with them. Grab their toes, tickle their tummies, hug them and give kisses. The diverse movements that can be done by a puppet will enchant and entertain your little one for ages! It can be made with an old pair of gloves, DIY ideas coming soon!
10. Magic mirror
Babies love to look at faces, especially at mummy but sometimes their own too! By setting up a mirror in their room, they will be more aware of ‘something that moves’ and would be enchanted in facial expression of themselves. Once they can sit up, giving them small hand size mirror is also a good option.
What would you add to this list of baby play ideas?