A guest blog from the extremely talented Sandra Nunes Vaz from www.handinhandlearning.co.uk Her website is a wealth of information - please check it out!
Playing With Your Baby Makes a Happy Baby!
No need to ever be stuck for an idea of what to do with your baby: just go to the extensive list of play suggestions on the Entertaining Babies website. Grouped in age specific sections you can easily see the kind of things you can do together to keep your baby entertained and happy. Not only that though; as you play with your baby, you are actively helping their brain grow the new connections (up to 3 million per second!) that make them into the person they will become.
Did you know…
- At birth, your baby behaves instinctively. He or she, knows how to feed, to cry, to sleep and less obviously, to focus on close up things like your face as you feed them.
- But they also have an incredible instinct to copy your facial expressions. If not too dopey, within minutes of being born, many babies actually are able to copy their parents sticking out their tongue. They are not even aware they are imitating, it is just an inbuilt reflex – try it if you get the chance with your newborn.
- Continue to play this face to face game during your baby’s the first few weeks. It will help you to get to know each other, they will love it, and gradually they will learn to copy your smile.
- The main area of the brain that is responsible for our sight is called the occipital lobe. It is very underdeveloped at birth. By gazing at your baby as you feed them, you are helping them to develop the millions of connections that they need to be able to focus and make sense of the world. Try to give your baby this attention as they feed, it is so valuable for them. It may not always feel like it, but it is time really well spent.
- After a month or so, your baby will better be able to control his or her eyes. Movement captures them, they will be transfixed by passing objects. Playing with finger puppets either homemade or shop bought is an ideal way to help them track slow moving objects.
- Highly contrasting colours are needed at this stage, black and white objects are especially appealing. If you have pets or a toddler at home, your baby will be entertained between naps as they rush by. The occipital lobe is being developed and the new connections help your baby make sense of the world around them.
- By two to four months you will notice your baby reaching out to touch objects. Again it is the occipital lobe in charge. Depth perception is starting to develop, ie how far away things are. A baby gym is an ideal way to help them practice grabbing at objects. At the same time, different parts of the brain are being wired up to control movement. You can see this development taking place, as your baby gradually gets better and better at aiming for what they want to hold.
- By eight months, your baby can detect more subtle differences in colour and texture and facial expressions and their longer range vision will enable them to recognise people across a large room.
By giving your baby interesting things to look at as they develop, as they reach their first birthday, your baby will see pretty much as well as a normal adult.
Also what’s vital to remember is the more you smile at your baby, the more they will smile at you. Don’t be put off if you don’t get an instant response. Keep working at it. Some babies are natural grinners, others need a lot more encouragement! The more you and your baby smile, the more happy chemicals (endorphins) are produced in both of your brains.
So you really can help your baby be a Happy Baby!
Just a little knowledge in the right areas will have a huge influence on you and your baby’s lives. It helps you to cope and make confident choices about how you parent, that are right for you; for a happy baby and strong family life.
Hand in Hand Learning’s ‘How Babies Learn’ course will help you find out so much more about your baby and yourself. It will guide you through the first two years to give your baby the very best start in life. You can try a free ten minute taster session on Hand in Hand Learning’s website.
Sandra Nunes Vaz is a partner in Hand in Hand Learning. She has written and delivered courses to parents about how babies and children learn for over 10 years. How Babies Learn is now available on-line as a 6 session downloadable course from their website, handinhandlearning.co.uk
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