Developing your baby's senses through play

Developing your baby's senses through play

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Playtime provides a great opportunity to encourage the development of your baby's sense of touch, smell, hearing, sight, and taste. You can even help your little one use those senses to boost his physical and mental development.

How often should I schedule playtime with my baby?

Don't worry about creating a set time to play with your baby every day. If he seems calm and is making eye contact, moving his arms and legs, and making sounds, he's probably ready to play!

This may happen more often when he's well-fed and rested. With time, you'll learn to read your baby's cues, but don't worry if you can't do it right away – you're still getting to know each other.

What sensory games and activities can boost my baby's development?

Although your newborn's eyesight is fuzzy beyond 12 inches or so, she can make out the details of your face. Let her study your face during playtime. Watching your facial expressions and behavior plays a crucial role in the development of social skills.

Between 2 and 4 months, your baby starts making eye contact with you. Your responses to her little signals contribute to her sense of self and help the two of you bond.

Another developing skill in these early months is coordinating head and eye movements. This helps her watch moving objects and understand how they relate to objects around them. You can help your baby develop this skill by slowly moving a toy across her field of vision and encouraging her to watch it.

From around 5 months, your baby may start to reach for objects. You can encourage physical development by placing a toy within sight but just out of reach.

Watch as he shuffles, stretches, or rolls toward it. Hanging a rattle or mobile where he can kick at it also teaches him about cause and effect.

When speaking to your baby, give her a chance to respond with a smile, gurgle, or laugh. When she responds, answer back. This shows your baby that you're interested in what she has to say, as well as encouraging the development of language and comprehension.

Babbling and laughing with your baby is also important for your well-being. That kind of interaction triggers the release of the so-called love hormone, oxytocin, in adults, helping to create an extra close bond between babies and their parents.

How much time should I spend focusing on my baby?

Your baby's attention span is far shorter than that of an older child or adult. Your baby may quickly become overwhelmed by too much stimulation. Signs that your baby may be feeling tired or bored include:

  • rubbing his eyes
  • looking away
  • crying or fussing
  • arching his back
  • closing his eyes or falling asleep

When you think he's had enough entertainment, give him a break by clearing away his toys and just holding him or singing quietly to him. If he looks sleepy, try putting him down for a nap.

Can activity classes help to stimulate my baby?

You are your baby's first playmate and can provide plenty of stimulation in the early days. The activities you do together – cuddling, making faces, talking, singing, reading stories, and exploring interesting objects and toys – are all rich sources of stimulation for your little one.

As your baby gets older, you can consider taking her to group activities such as music classes. Although babies don't really start to play with other children until toward the middle of their second year, attending group activities can have other benefits.

One study looked at 6-month-olds who attended a weekly music class that involved action songs and playing instruments. It found that they had a better sense of musical pitch and more advanced early communications skills, compared with babies who attended a class in which they listened to music while playing with toys. However, it's unclear whether the babies would have developed similar skills simply making music with their parents at home.

Group activities can also be a great way of meeting other parents and finding future playmates for your baby. They're a great excuse to leave the house and stimulate your own senses. If you're feeling happier and more invigorated, you're likely to be better company for your baby.

Watch the video: Med Talk Health Talk: Raising a child with ADHD (October 2022).

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