In this section we will study about various activities in which we can engage our newborn, it may sound strange or little overwhelming but from the day babies are born, they start interacting with the environment and we need to help them at every stage. Playful, Fun Activities enhance their ability to adjust with environment and get grasp of world around them.
Child’s brain starts learning since birth. As, we have already discussed in Intellectual Development section, how brain develops at a fast pace. Let’s summarize the key points here for details refer to this link.Details on Brain Development
Scientist have confirmed that babies are born with billion of brain cells, much more than they have at age of 3 and twice as many as when they will be adult. Growing his basic skills at right time is quite crucial to maximize child’s learning process.
Hence, it’s important to understand a few facts and then we’ll study list of activities that should be performed, to stimulate baby’s senses and help him learn and understand his environment.
In one study, researchers compared babies who had regular sessions of vestibular stimulation, being swung in different positions, with babies who did not receive this extra treatment and found that the babies with extra stimulation were more advanced in motor skills like sitting, crawling, standing and walking.
Also researchers have observed that repeating activities are more advantageous. More babies repeat an act, the more secure and responsive, he will be. Repetitive activities will improve infant’s thinking and reasoning.
Palmar Grasp Reflex
In order to start manipulating objects with his hands, your baby is going to have to lose the Palmar Grasp Reflex, which appears at birth and is fairly persistent until about the age of five to six months. Whenever the object is placed in his hand and touches his palm, he will grasp it. The grip is incredibly strong, but unpredictable, so he may either suddenly release whatever he’s holding or he might not be able to let go of it at all.
That’s why you should never try to lift baby up with him holding on! In order to really interact with objects he is going to have to be able to let go at will; which is when the fun game of dropping toys over and over again can start.
I still remember my son used to drop his toy to get my attention and then keep dropping it every minute, I gave it back to him, I can see that mischievous smile on his face and eventually I used to hold him and we used to start playing together. I still cherish those innocent playful tricks of his.
Age 0 – Week 1
Move body parts
Observe the baby’s hand movements. Test his grasp. Put the babies left and right hand together. It will help to develop a feeling of awareness of both sides of his body.
Observe the baby’s leg and foot movement. Touch and hold the baby’s left and right foot and note the baby’s reaction.
During this week carefully observe your baby’s movements carefully. Wrap the baby securely in a blanket during his first week.
Talk to your baby, sing to him. You may play a CD which stimulates the baby’s sense of hearing. I still remember I used to play Indian prayer to my kid on cell phone, and he used to be so excited and when he grew that’s still his favorite prayer.
Age 0 – Week 3
Moving an object
Notice baby fixes his eyes on you. Hold a rattle and note if your baby notices that or not. Move the rattle from left to right and vice versa and note if baby’s eyes follow that direction or not. If not repeat it after a few days on and off. This is beginning of eye movement training required for reading. This activity develops visual stimulation of moving objects.
Age 0 – Week 5
Hold the baby close enough to look at himself in a large mirror. Does the baby smile or coo? Talk to the baby and call him by his name.
- This will develop the baby’s awareness of his own image.
- It will develop his listening skills.
Age 0 – Week 7
Response to Noise
Make a sound with a bell. Note, does the baby turn his head, eyes or body in the direction of sound. Hold the bell in front of the baby and observe does he reach for the bell? This activity develops the baby’s listening awareness.
Try sticking out tongue at your baby every 20 seconds when he’s looking into your eyes, and you may soon see a tiny tongue sticking back at you. Be patient – it may take her a minute or two to respond.
Age 0 – Week 11
Lay the baby on the back. Put on multicoloured soft ball on the baby’s stomach. Roll the ball up to his chest and neck. Watch the baby’s eyes and hand. Does he reach for the ball and respond? This activity helps in:
- Tactile sensation that stimulates the baby to hold the object.
- Develops focusing on object.
Light and shade
Your baby’s attention will be caught by objects with bold patterns of light and shade: your face, a teddy bear or white and black picture. This is because strong contrasts are easily picked out with poor vision.
- Draw black-and-white patterns and faces and stick them onto the wall by your baby’s cot.
- Place his cot near a window where there is a play of light and shade.
- Splash water in the bath with his feet while you hold him carefully supported in your arms. This will stimulate his sense of touch without making him feel insecure.
- Prop your baby up in car seat or a bouncy chair so he gets a good view of what’s going on around him. Talk to her in the room and watch how he tries to locate the sound. Games like this, helps him to co-ordinate sight and sound. I still remember my son spending quite a time of his time in balcony looking at birds, buildings and cars and people going by.
- Play “Round Round the Garden” or a similar song to encourage his fingers and toes to relax. Open out his toes and fingers as you say the rhymes. This also reinforces your baby’s idea about enjoyment and interaction.
- Repeat the same song or rhyme which he enjoys most and see how long it takes before he learns to anticipate the tickle at end. My son used to start giggling as he realize we’re reaching the end of rhyme in anticipation.
- Your baby may also like it if you stroke the palm of his hand and his fingertips, with anything soft or furry in texture, soft toys are ideal to try, take care he doesn’t put in mouth.
Age 0 – Week 18
Read and sing rhymes for the baby. Repeat each one several times. Word of rhymes will be liked by the baby. This activity develops:
- Listening skills
- Language enrichment.
Age 0 – Week 20
Awareness of Hands
Move your hands apart and then bring them together again. Repeat this on many occasions in front of the eyes of the baby. Baby will enjoy this and learn:
- Awareness of Hands
- Improved Eye-Hand co-ordination.
Age 0 – Week 35
During bath, make splashing sound with the water. Exaggerating the sound will attract the baby’s attention. This activity develops:
- Listening for different sounds.
- Awareness of wetness.
Age 0 – Week 38
Buy a jar of blowing solution. Blow colourful bubbles to entertain the baby. Then try to catch the bubbles.
Child will try to catch the bubbles too. He will be delighted by watching them. This will help in developing:
- Skill of watching a moving object.
- Awareness of round shape of bubble.
Age 0 – Week 42
Take 12 squares of cardboard of equal size having a different design or colour. Two squares should be similar so there will be six sets of two each.
Place all the cards in front of baby and observe which of the squares attracts the baby’s attention. Encourage the baby to hold, feel and touch the card.
When the baby becomes more familiar he may show an interest in matching them. This activity develops:
- Awareness of different colours
- Awareness of the square shape.
- The art of matching squares.
Age 0 – Week 45
Dropping an article in a container
Take a container having a circular hole in the lid. Give the baby a spoon and encourage him to put in the hole. He may need a little help first but eventually he will succeed. This activity can be used later for baby to do independently and helps in developing:
- Eye-Hand Co-ordination
- Skill of putting articles into holes.
- Develops confidence.
Age 0 – Week 50
Recognizing parts of the face
At some point start introducing various parts of face like eyes, nose and so on. If baby is confused, spend several days on the eyes, then progress and spend many days on, the nose, mouth, ears and hairs. When the baby becomes confident, encourage him to point to or touch a part of the face on request. This activity develops:
- Listening skills
- Awareness of parts of face.
- Skill in associating different part of the face with their names.