Little brains grow rapidly, especially from birth through to three years old. If you are pregnant or have recently had a baby it is great to get prepared in looking for ways to keep them stimulated. This will help ensure healthy development in those precious early years. If you feel overwhelmed with knowing where to start, you are not alone, many new parents feel this way, though the good news is the process of discovery is so much fun. From playing peek-a-boo with a soft baby muslin to learning to crawl, here are some easy, simple ways to stimulate the brain of your baby in early childhood.
All that goo-goo- ga-ga and other baby sounds we all start to use around little ones may seem silly, though guess what? Starting baby talk from as early as possible can help stimulate brain development in your little one. Speaking in different tones of voice and experimenting with different vowels will help your little one absorbs all the different textures of language. Reading stories out loud is more than a way to help them relax at bedtime, they are storing all the sounds beginning the exciting journey of learning to listen and speak.
Playing games with your little one is a great way to keep them entertained, though playtime can also help promote healthy brain development. Playing peek-a-boo with a baby muslin will encourage them to learn new patterns. Look for baby muslins with fun designs, shapes or even animals. Choosing games that help your baby be present and focus is great. This will develop their confidence at interacting and playing before they get to the playpen!
Setting up a safe place for your baby to crawl around on the floor is a great way to let them explore. You can lay down a blanket or soft, hypoallergenic muslin to let them crawl around on to develop confidence in moving on their own. Make sure you use a fabric that is comfortable to avoid irritating their skin. As they move their brains are developing new skills, make sure you stay attentive and praise their progress to ensure they feel comfortable and reassured.
Gently massaging your little one can make them feel loved, secure, and less likely to experience distress. Touch can also contribute to healthy brain development as they learn and grow through the warm feeling of emotional security. You can gently massage your baby on the hands or feet, doing it before bedtime can also help settle them and set them up for calm, relaxing sleep. Experiment with massaging them in different areas and see what makes them smile.
Clearly respond to behaviour
Your baby is constantly looking at you for reassurance and learning from the things you do and the way you react. When they engage in a certain behaviour it is important to respond clearly for their brain development and confidence. If they do something well like try a new food, make a new sound or crawl for the first time, keep your responses predictable and consistent. Their little brains will be storing your reactions to what they have done, this will encourage them to keep taking precious little steps in the right direction.
Your mood can affect the emotional wellbeing and healthy brain development of your little one. Expressing joy with plenty of smiles, praise and adoration can help them to feel secure, loved, and confident. Lots of cuddles, tummy time and attention is not only great fun, it can be those critical early years where your bond with them is developing. Let your joy shine through however you wish, from tickles and playing to staring at them with love in your eyes. They are always watching and those brains are absorbing everything.
Looking after the healthy growth and development of your little one is a journey of a lifetime. Remember every baby is different and will respond better to certain stimulation techniques, making progress in their own time. As you get to know each other, you will gain more confidence in what works. Talking to other parents and having a support network can help keep you on track and navigate any challenges. Above all, enjoy the process and create some wonderful memories.
With these simple tips and a whole lot of love and affection your baby will be well on the way to being the smartest kid in the playpen!