When babies first arrive home they do not seem to do much but eat, sleep, cry, and expel bodily fluids. That is not the case. The baby is touching, hearing, seeing, smelling, and tasting things for the first time, and learning from it all. The brain is stimulated on a constant basis, muscles are growing, and connections and bonds are developing. During this time, there are several simple things parents can do to help development on all levels. Snuggling with the baby is essential. Skin to skin contact makes the baby feel safe, keeps baby warm, and strengthens the bond between parent and child. Once a routine is established, it is easy to forget to make time just for holding the baby. The child is held for feeding, changing, and bathing, but snuggling is just as important.
Stimulate muscle development and coordination by doing simple range of motion exercises, testing reflexes, and encouraging grasping. Smiling and talking to infants soothes them and stimulates the brain at the same time. Within a few months, babies will turn their heads at the sound of a parent’s voice in recognition. It may seem silly at first, but talk to your baby as much as possible. Providing a panoramic view of the world will also help the baby develop. Placing an infant in a front facing wrap or sling while shopping, doing errands, or cleaning the house allows the brain to begin to process different sights, sounds, and images. Music, dancing, rocking, and playing are also fun activities that help the baby develop.
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