Monday, March 29, 2010

Infant Stimulation Activity 23: motion (swinging)

If your local park has baby swings get over there as soon as the weather permits and, of course, when your baby is able to hold her head up. The fist time swinging outside is a wonderful milestone. Bring your camera; bring the camcorder.

Get your baby comfortable in the swing and allow her to get accustomed to it, and then begin slowly swinging her back and forth. Tell her “You’re swinging. Back and forth. Back and forth.” Wait for her reaction and be sure she is enjoying it. The excited sound of your voice will help.

Your baby is not only enjoying the motion, but is also feeling the sensation of a breeze on her face as well as the fresh scents of spring. Mention the breeze, “Do you feel the breeze?” and touch her cheek. Ask if she smells the fresh air, and then show her how to sniff. This might also be her first time to see a number of other children interacting. There is a lot going on, so be sure to watch for signs of over stimulation (cranky, crying, generally not enjoying what you are doing).

When you are finished swinging, give her a big hug and tell her how proud you are of her.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Infant Stimulation Activity 22: Cause and Effect

I have read that you should begin showing your baby “cause and effect” at around 7 months. On the contrary! It is never too early to begin and I have the video to prove it! But do you really have to take my word (or video) as proof? One of the first consequences a baby learns is that when she cries then someone will come. If she is hungry then someone feeds her. When she puts her fist in her mouth and sucks, it soothes her. Your baby realizes that she can make things happen.

And by the way, continue doing all the things that make your baby feel good and secure and comfortable and loved. You will not spoil a baby by comforting her (i.e. picking her up) when she cries and needs to be soothed. Babies need comfort and love and the feeling of security.

So given that we know your baby causes a reaction from you, how about a fun way to cause a reaction from her?!

In this video you will see me “creep” my hands up my sons legs then tickle him under the chin. By the third time watch how he begins to laugh before I barely begin to move my hands! THAT is infant stimulation. THAT is learning. THAT is brain development. And he is not 7 months old; he is 4 months!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Infant Stimulation Activity 21: hand-eye coordination (stacking)

Although infants still might be young, introducing how to stack can never start too early! Stacking boosts both fine and gross motor skills as well as eye-hand coordination. These activities help a baby learn about spatial relationships and shapes as well as cause and effect when he knocks down the blocks. In the accompanying video, my son is 5 months old. Watch how he focuses on the blocks, grabs them, knocks them over, and watches them get stacked again. Then watch that smile! Oh, and please do not make (too much) fun of my music – I am a product of the 80’s (as was the introduction of Susan Ludington-Hoe’s Infant Stimulation Programs) – Oops, this song was released in 1975 – well, I tried!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Infant Stimulation Activity 20: vision - it's a matter of perspective

Sleeping, looking around, rolling, being changed, crying –whatever it is that your baby is doing in his crib he is still seeing all the same things. One thing you can do to stimulate your infant is to move his crib and give him a different vantage point. How simple!

Be sure to explain to your baby that you have moved his crib and tell him what he now can see or point out where the things he could see before are now located relative to his new location: "There is the window." "There is the closet." "There is the door."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Infant Stimulation Activity 19: the magic of black on white

Two 2-inch triangles point to point, yes, thislooks like a bowtie and is a featured design on a Babysmartees t-shirt. This is a preferred shape to offer your infant for visual stimulation - to learn to focus and concentrate. It may seem like a simple shape to you, but it is complex for your infant.

Interchange this shape with a paper plate face (see Infant Stimulation Activity 6) and then exchange again with the checkerboard shape (see Infant Stimulation Activity 7) - antoher featured design on a Babysmartees t-shirt.

Watch your baby’s eyes and watch him focus. When he turns away it is time to change the shape he is looking at and eventually time to stop the activity. He does not need more than 15 minutes.

Now it is time to cuddle, or rock, or just get on with the rest of your day! Easy! Fun! Good for baby!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Infant Stimulation Activity 18: Motion (slow motion)

The day is hectic for everyone and the more hectic for you the more so for your infant who is along for the ride wondering what is going on, stimulated (and often overstimulated) by so many sights, sounds, and movements. It may be time to teach your baby relaxation and how to wind down.

Put a small baby cotton sheet or blanket over your shoulder, let your baby's head rest on it as you move about; do not be surprised when the baby falls asleep! Or for a change of direction, rock your baby gently as you sing softly, and look into her eyes.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Infant Stimulation Activity 17: Hearing

Talk, talk, talk to your baby and you will stimulate the development of the hearing center in the brain. The longer and more you talk with your baby the more brain cell connections occur. These connections set the foundation for the utterance of the first word, and the second word, then dozens and thousands, and a whole language!

So, what do you talk to an infant about? It is as simple as telling him what you are doing. When you are changing his diaper, describe what you are doing. Hold up the diaper and say “diaper” then “next I lift baby, and fold over the diaper “ and so on. Be happy and smile and reinforce a good job once the activity is over: say “Good boy!” with a big smile followed, of course by a cuddle.

Do the same during bath time, changing clothes, or even sorting laundry!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Infant Stimulation Activity 16: Springtime Scents

Spring is coming (to those of us in colder areas) and nature will soon be in bloom. What a great time to get your baby outside for some stimulation! There will be so much to see, hear, touch, and smell. Perhaps you have an herb garden, or a flower garden, or even a vegetable garden. Introduce your baby to the various plants and their wonderful and unique scents. Remember to smile and be just as excited as if you were experiencing the scents for the first time. Life and learning is wonderful!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Infant Stimulation Activity 15: Sing a Song

Sing a song! It doesn’t much matter what song; the best one’s for newborns are those that mom or dad are singing. Sing about diaper changing, putting on booties, having a bath, looking out of the window - you name it, you can sing about it. Babies love music and they love their parents; they will love their parents singing!

Be sure to smile and it helps if you can laugh at yourself - well, it helped me between my less than appealing sound and the funny lyrics. But we had fun!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Infant stimulation activity 14: Touch and Language

Is you infant able to sit up in a high chair yet? And do you find yourselves in the kitchen a lot? (Even if you say no, this all can be done while baby is on your lap and any room at all, you may substitute the objects or bring in stuff from the kitchen!) Whatever you are doing int your kitchen, show your baby the object you are working with and name it. For example, if you are holding a cup, show it to her and say, "cup" at least 5 five times. Then let her touch it, if it is plastic then let her hold it! Do the same with a spoon and try other objects even fruits and vegetables.

Finish today’s fun with a big smile and of course a cuddle.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Infant stimulation activity 13: What's That Sound

The amazing thing about sound is that every one is new to your infant. Even the most mundane sound is of interest, especially as your baby matches the sound with a movement and/or object. If you are in the kitchen, tap a spoon on the table while baby sits in your lap or in her high chair. If you are reading a book, or finished reading a book, flip the pages. If you were writing, then tap the pencil.

Don’t forget to smile, showing your baby how much fun this is. Even though you have tapped a pencil a million times, it is new to her and therefore a fun first for you both!