8 Simple Ways to Develop Your Baby Through Play (Part One)

Eyinade Eweje

Just as you go the extra mile to see to the comfort and care needs of your baby, it’s also important to make out time to consistently stimulate them through play as babies learn primarily through interaction with caregivers and exploration. Doing this is instrumental to laying the appropriate foundation for all-round development and facilitating speedy acquisition of motor, cognitive, social and language skills, amongst others.

Find 8 tips to keep you on track:

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1. Enjoy The Bonding Process

Quality caregiver contact is extremely important for your baby’s development. Don’t leave it all to your nanny because of your tight schedules. As your baby’s eyes develop, she’ll love focusing on faces. So, when she’s awake, hold your face close and engage her through facial expressions. Diaper change time is a great opportunity for this. When he frowns, opens his mouth widely, coos or grimaces, mimic his expressions and exaggerate them. It’s also important to spend plenty of skin-to-skin time together by holding him close to your chest, cuddling, stroking or gently massaging him.

2. Baby Talk ‘Motherese’

Talking to your baby regularly as if he can speak already from birth onwards develops his communication skills. Studies say apart from being a baby’s first speech lesson, it also shapes listening skills acquisition. Tell him what you’re doing, “I’m changing your diaper,” “Look at daddy, he’s preparing your lunch,” “I’m making a cup of tea,” and so on. Ask questions like, “Do you like this teddy?”, “Would you like some milk?”, using facial gestures and upbeat tones (motherese) even if all you get in response is a blank face, smile, leg kicking, gurgles, grunts, cooing or babbling. Imitate and exaggerate his responses while you talk. It might appear a monologue, but with every word he hears, your baby is developing fresh brain connections. Capture your baby’s eyes before beginning your conversation to engage him for longer periods and get responses that’ll motivate you to talk on.

READ ALSO: 7 Things That Can Damage Your Baby’s Hearing Ability

 3. Tummy Time

If your baby usually sleeps on his back to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), tummy time gets him off his back, provides rest for the back of his head (the occipital area) and works his large motor muscles. Place him on his belly for at least 15 minutes daily to play while you supervise. Shake a rattle, which is ideal to hone his visual and auditory coordination, in front of him and get him to look up and attempt reaching out for it. This strengthens his neck and upper back muscles, facilitates head control, crawling, standing, rolling over, sitting, walking, as well as other fine and gross motor skills.

Note that when you put your baby on his tummy, it’s important to place him on a smooth, flat surface with no loose items like toys, blankets, pillows, close to him, as these can pose suffocation hazards.

4. Exploring and Cruising

Baby-proof your home and allow your baby explore safe areas and objects both indoor and outdoor under your supervision. For instance, allow them to touch objects of varying textures, provide mouthing toys such as a teether, purchase a baby mirror so they can view their reflection and begin to develop self awareness, invest in musical toys such as wrist, hand or foot rattles to exercise their auditory skills and help them learn about cause and effect, practice baby visual tracking skills by slowly moving a toy or your smiling face, back and forth before their eyes. These help them improve on their motor and cognitive skills.

 

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