Newborns are those gifts of God that do not come with an instruction manual. The first few months after birth are filled with change, and you and your baby experience many rapid and exciting transformations together. According to research, newborns perceive the world as a blur of out of focus images and dull colours (initially can see in black, white and grey). So how do you connect with them and provide stimulation for their brains to grow and adapt? Let's look at some fun and easy ways to stimulate and connect with your baby. Not only do these activities encourage growth and development in your little one, but they also provide opportunities for bonding and learning about the world together.
Face To Face: One of the easiest and possibly the most important ways to connect with your baby is to oﬀer them some face time. This means to get close to them and allow them to study your face. Research shows that babies begin to recognise and distinguish between faces long before they can distinguish between diﬀerent shapes and patterns in their environment. By allowing your baby time to study your face, not only do they familiarise themselves with you but you begin to stimulate the part of the brain that is associated with visual appearance and their perceptual abilities. When the babies are born, their vision isn't that good; there is a limit to the distance (about 12 inches from their face) till which they can see quite clearly. They are quite amused gazing at faces, so bring your face close to them, talk to them making large facial expressions like poking your tongue out. You will notice around 3 months when you giggle at the baby, the baby giggles back, which is enthralling.
Reading: Another activity that you may try and do every single day is to read a book together. It is so important for the development of hearing and language. It has been observed that with this routine, kids would start to love reading books by the time they grow up.
Mirror: A mirror is a great prop to entertain your baby. You can stand in front of a mirror on the wall, hold them and talk to them in the mirror. Babies are so fascinated with the faces you make, and they are elated looking at their faces.
Sound and Music: Sounds, singing, and music are great ways to stimulate your baby, help with their development, and keeping them entertained. Gradually the baby also starts picking up diﬀerent types of music. So you could put some music in the background, pick them and dance around in your room. Sing to them during bath time and you could use toys related to the song you are singing. You could also give them diﬀerent things to hold which makes distinct sounds.
Talk To Them: Talking just like you are having a conversation with an adult, you pause and give the baby a chance to respond, and the baby would generally respond with short sounds.
Tummy Time: Tummy time is so important for strengthening the muscles of their back and neck as well as gaining head control. It's so awesome once they gain their head control and you don't have to support them when you are holding them. You may do tummy time in multiple positions - on your chest, on the ground, over your arm, or on your shoulder. Short bursts throughout the day are better than doing a long session.
Grip and Grab: Another skill that emerges around 7 or 8 weeks is the ability to grasp and hold onto objects. You can encourage this behaviour by oﬀering your baby small toys or teething rings that oﬀer unique textures and they are easy and lightweight for the baby to hold on to. It is exhilarating to see their reaction as they learn about various touch-n-feels.
Stand and Curl: You could make the baby stand on your legs and just hold them. They’ll bend, straighten their legs and push up. It is a good activity and helps strengthen his legs which is so important for crawling and then eventually walking.
Lights and Reflections: Another thing that you would notice is that they are attracted to light and reflections. You could use a torch and create some reflections on the wall with your hands. You will notice that they look up and get so enraptured watching these reflections and movements, wondering what's going on.
Massage: Massaging your baby using oil, cream, or moisturiser not only calms them down but also has the following benefits:
- On the feet: helps develop motor skills
- On the calves: boosts body’s development
- On the chest: improves the mood
- On the tummy: helps with digestion
- On the back: helps relieve colic
While the days are a mix of naps, feeds and diaper changes, do spend some time playing with the baby. When you are doing so, make sure you are looking for signs that they are not tired. For example, if they are looking away from you, or yawning or closing their eyes, it means that they are assimilated or overtired and they are not in the mood to play.