Your new baby has a lot to learn. His brain needs stimulation. He starts with a host of reflexes that help him suck, root, grasp your finger and startle at loud noises. He can hear, see, smell, taste and touch. In his first year, he develops motor skills, fine hand control, language abilities and social and emotional skills. He needs you to help him develop by providing a safe, caring environment with plenty of the right kind of stimulation.
Gentle music encourages your baby to listen. You can hold her in your arms and sway gently. The sound of your voice may soothe her when she is awake but fussing. Make eye contact, when your baby can see your face. Even before she is three weeks old, she copies your facial movements, such as poking out her tongue, according to Andrew N. Meltzoff and M. Keith Moore, writing in Science magazine. Encourage tummy time by letting your baby lie on her tummy sometimes while she is awake, so she can learn to turn and raise her head. Help her with eye focus by letting her see brightly colored rattles and safe crib mirrors.
One to Three Months
When your infant starts to smile and enjoy social play with you he'll start to laugh aloud. Talk to him, sing nursery songs and make faces for him to copy, to develop his language and social skills. Focus on motor activity by gently moving his arms and legs around for him as they begin to grow stronger. Clap his hands together and pump his legs carefully, preparing him to creep and crawl. Work on eye focus by moving objects slowly within his field of vision to encourage him to follow objects with his eyes.
Six to Seven Months
Halfway through her first year, your baby is ready to get moving. Play with her as she rolls on the floor and sits up. She soon learns to balance herself, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Offer toys with different shapes and textures to encourage fine motor control as she learns to transfers toys from one hand to the other. Play peek-a-boo games and hide toys under cushions, letting your baby find them. This helps her learn to understand where they went. even when she can't see them: an important milestone in her intellectual development, suggests Kidshealth.org.
During the second half of his first year, your baby starts to get around on his tummy. Roll large balls toward, then away from him to encourage him to twist around and crawl, strengthening core muscles and promoting mobility. As he gains fine control over his hands, watch as he picks toys up in a pincer grasp and bangs two objects together. Offer him blocks and stacking toys, and encourage him to help with dressing. He likely babbles noisily now, copying the sound of an adult voice using nonsense words. He understands single words, so talk to him often in short phrases, naming objects and actions around the house. Work on standing by encouraging him to pull himself up and balance using sturdy furniture, and offer him push-along toys to encourage his first steps.
- "Science"; Imitation of Facial and Manual Gestures by Human Neonates; A. Meltzoff; 1977
- KidsHealth: Learning, Play and Your 4 to 7 month Old