Friday, April 29, 2011

Infant Stimulation Activity: how low can you go (or high)

Did you know that when your newborn hears a high pitched voice (the common way we tend to speak to babies) his heartrate increases which means he is happy, secure, and cheerful.

Change the pitch of your voice from high to low as you talk or sing. Offer your baby a variety of sounds, but be sure her reactions are positive. And keep smiling so she knows this is a fun game.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Infant Stimulation Activity: take a walk

Okay this sounds basic, particularly as the weather warms up around the country, but I will have to repost this in January! Yes, take your baby for a walk throughout all the seasons. My son was born in January – if I waited for Spring that would have been 4-5 months inside! With a newborn! All day! Every day!

Instead, we bundled up and walked and walked and walked . . . every day. Even if baby is bundled up and the cover is over the stroller, the air is still different, the sounds are different, and the motion is different from indoor activities. This is a great time for you to point out some things, “Do you hear a bird?” “Do you hear a car?” “That is a stop sign.” “That is a fire hydrant.” “Do you see the dog?”

Naturally, in the nicer weather your baby will see more, probably hear more, and that fresh air always makes for some great naps!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Infant Stimulation Activity: Just Wiggle a Finger

Never forget that you want your baby in a good mood when starting any infant stimulation activity. AND never forget that you need to be in a good mood too! The activities should be fun and interactive – always reinforcing your loving relationship with your baby.

So when you and your baby are ready, lay your baby on her back. Bring your right hand in front of her eyes (about 10 inches). Then wiggle your index finger up and down, followed by the middle finger, then the fourth finger, and then the little finger. Once she sees your fingers wiggling, continue to wiggle each finger while moving your hand slowly from side to side. As with all infant stimulation activities, continue for about 2-3 minutes, before she gets bored or tired.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Infant Stimulation Activity: newborn in motion

Movement stimulation with your newborn is a key principle to an infant stimulation program. Your baby is learning to move himself, learning to move other objects, learning that other people and objects move! So simple, but he doesn't know yet. So it is time to have some fun! (And all this goes for your infant at any age, but the point is that it is never too early to start.)

Have your newborn sitting up in his carrier or whatever infant seat you use in the house.

1) Show him how you move: move your fingers, move your hand, wiggle your toes, stick out your tongue. Smile, frown, open your mouth.

2) Show him how objects move. Show him a rattle. Turn so it is horizontal, then vertical. Caress his skin with it.

Remember, a newborns attention span is fleeting so these are activities to do throughout the day, over the course of a week for different body parts, and of course the variety of objects is endless over the course of months. But definitely watch for the amount of time he is focusing on movement stimulation. It will expand and watching that development is awesome.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Infant Stimulation Acitivty: smell

Have you thought about stimulating baby with smells? A newborn's sense of smell is well developed. She is capable of distinguishing smells he likes and those he doesn't. But smell is not merely a pleasant sensation, it has also been found to be important for motor growth promoting involuntary and skeletal movements. In other words - your baby sniffs and automatically has a reaction!

Offer your baby some pleasant smells: mom's perfume and dad's cologne. Put on cotton ball and wave under baby's nose 3 times. Watch for baby's reaction (if you do not wear perfume or cologne try to identify something similar that identifies each of you via smell - perhaps mom's breastmilk or dad's deodorant - as long as it is something pleasant)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Infant Stimulation Activity: Face to Face Part 2

Two months and on is a great time to actively show and explain a range of facial expressions. Draw faces on small white paper plates that show smiling, frowning, laughing, crying, and surprise. Show your baby the plate with the laughing face then say "laughing." Then you do a laughing face for your baby and again say, "laughing." Repeat for each plate or until your baby has indicated that she has had enough (she starts to look away, gets fussy, or is crying).

You can also use the plates at other times as a quiet stimulator: put a plate on the side of her crib to enhance visual stimulation.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Infant Stimulation Activity: Face to Face Part 1

Are you surprised to learn that eye-to-eye contact, especially with a newborn baby, is a stimulator? Your baby will examine the expression in your eyes as well as on your face. Expressions are an important stimulation to babies.

To get your newborn to focus on your eyes try this stimulator in a room with dimmed lighting. Maintain face-to-face contact and allow baby to examine your face and find your eyes. Make sure you have eye-to-eye contact to ensure your baby is looking at your eyes.

Allow baby to examine your eyes and, again, see the expression in them. This should only last a few seconds as newborns have a small attention span and you can repeat a few more times. For older infants . . . well, that is our next blog!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Infant Stimulation Activity: roll a ball down

This is a fun variation for rolling a ball with your baby. Set her up in front of a board (or other incline) and let her watch as the ball rolls down the ramp. Once she has seen this a few times help her hold the ball at the top of the ramp and allow her to let it go.

If it seems time for a change, alter her position so she is sitting at the bottom of the incline. This way she can view the different perspectives - the ball rolling away from her then the ball coming toward her.

Be sure to smile and clap and show how much fun you are having.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Infant Stimulation Activity: balance ball

Balance balls can be a great tool for playing with your baby. Have your baby lay on top of the ball on his back so he can see you. Roll the ball gently and be sure you are smiling and showing him what a great time this is.

Eventually place your baby face down on the top of the balance ball and roll the ball gently back and forth. Once your baby is able to sit you can place him in a sitting position on top of the balance ball while you bounce it or roll it back and forth.

It is fun to put this activity together with a song such as Rock-a-Bye Baby or Row Row Row Your Boat – and roll the ball to the beat of the song.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Infant Stimulation Activity: swinging (outside)

Spring is springing, so 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.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Two 2-inch triangles point to point, yes, this looks like a bowtie and is a featured design on a Babysmartees t-shirt. This is a preferred shape to offer your infant at 5 to 6 months 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. Think about an infant looking at the widest parts of the shape, then continuing to focus and concentrate on the way the shape begins to narrow. THAT is infant visual stimulation - offering your baby a visual that promotes focus and concentration.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Infant Stimulation Activity: sounds of speech

Do not be surprised when around 4 months your baby begins mumbling. He is starting to interact with you! He wants to be sociable; he wants to be a part of your world! This is the time to start reinforcing the sounds of speech. You can say and repeat different sounds - especially if you find yourself saying a silly word. Or sing! How about the ABC's! Or the Banana Boat song (you know, "Daaay-O"). How about Baa Baa Black Sheep or Old MacDonald (with all those animal sounds!)
Smile, sing, teach your baby the sounds of his language!