Importance of Stimulation
The early years of a child’s life are the most crucial in terms of proper growth and development. Infants have a biological need and desire to learn. And as parents, we should assist them in their learning phase by providing the right environment and stimulation activities. In my previous post on Feed IQ, I have written about the importance of cognitive milestones in infant cognition. In today’s post, I will share some of the age-specific stimulation activities for infants to help in their cognitive development. I am sharing the activities as per my experience which I used to do with Nemit.
Stimulation activities for babies (0 to 12 months old)
A baby’s first year is the most sensitive time for both baby and the mother. The first 3 months are quite tiring for a mom, with continuous breastfeeding, cleaning, changing and no proper sleep and rest in between. And that’s why it becomes a challenge to stay motivated and happy at all the times. If you are not happy, it will show up in your behavior. And believe me, these little babies can sense our stress or the stressful environment around them. The stress is not good even for your little ones, I hope you know that! Hence, it’s always better to take help from your partner or other family members during this time.
The best you can do for yourself during the first 3 months is to take care of yourself.
Take proper nutrition and include foods rich in DHA and natural Vitamin E in your diet as these are considered as brain-boosting nutrients for the baby. We are well aware of the significance of proper nutrition during pregnancy and breastfeeding in a baby’s growth. But parents often do not understand the importance of stimulation in a baby’s brain development.
Let’s see some of the stimulation activities you can do for your baby’s overall development.
0 to 3 months
One thing which I often hear from my friends who have babies in this age group is ‘My baby is too young to do any activity so what should I do? Such small babies just lie in one place, keep staring at the ceiling, and keep howling every 2 hours’.
Yes, that’s true! But then what we moms do at that time? We feed them, caress them, talk to them in the cutest possible voice, clean them, rush to them on hearing their first squeak. That’s what we do to make them feel loved. And that’s what constitutes stimulation for them.
Watch this video of Nemit responding to our talks when he was 2-months-old!
The first 3-4 months, babies communicate their needs by making different sounds (i.e cry). This is the most important time to bond with your baby and understand his needs better. The best stimulation you can provide is through touch. When you breastfeed your baby, he gets the warmth and comfort. When you attend to his cries and give him attention, he feels safe and secure. Talk to your baby in a soft loving tone, he will love listening to you although he may be looking somewhere else his attention will be on your voice only.
10 stimulation activities you can do with your (0 to 3) months old
3 to 6 months
Soon after 3 months, the baby starts using movement and other sounds for learning & communicating. This is the best time to prepare a visual stimulatory environment and introduce sound-producing toys. Use colorful decorations in the baby’s room as they love to see around and observe things during this stage. You can give rattle toys, they will love to hold a rattle and shake it. And be ready to witness their cute toothless smiles while hearing the rattle create different sounds.
You can also make simple toys & puzzles at home for your baby using the locally available materials!
One of the favorite toys of all babies is play gym. My son rolled over for the first time while trying to grab a toy hanging on the play gym. Tummy time is another activity which helps them work on their neck muscles and strengthening their core. Talking and singing are one of the best ways to bond with your baby. Make faces and use different sounds to see how curious they get.
10 stimulation activities you can do with your (3 to 6) months old
6 to 12 months
Once your baby is halfway through his first year of life, it will be time for more exploration and more movement. Your baby will experience many physical, mental and emotional changes. And he may seem self-motivated to learn new things and explore new avenues. The first thing you should do is to make the surroundings baby friendly.
At around 4 months, when our son first rolled over, we shifted our bed onto the floor. And soon after 6 months, we turned our home baby friendly. You can get many baby proofing techniques and ideas on Google.
10 stimulation activities you can do with your (6 to 12) months old
I hope you find these stimulation activities helpful and will assist in your baby’s cognitive development. Do spread the love by sharing this post with your friends and family. And tell me in the comments section what all activities you do/did with your babies as new parents.