Babies are learning and developing before they are even born. In the womb, they are able to hear and recognize sounds and voices. Throughout infancy, babies are almost constantly learning new things and developing their motor skills. Parents who are anxious to help their infants along can perform sensory activities with their children to assist in the development of the sensory and the motor skills they will need later in life.
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Since before they were born, babies were hearing sounds outside the womb. After being born, they are exposed to a wide expanse of strange noises in varying tones and pitches.
You can help your infant learn tone, pitch and volume by doing a number of activities. Studies have shown that infants can, in fact, detect the beat in music. Doing something as simple as singing a song to your baby can help her distinguish tone and sound quality. Talking to your baby and varying your tone and pitch is also a simple, yet effective activity.
Because they are new to the world, all of your babies' senses are extremely heightened after birth and for the first several months. You can help your baby develop the sense of touch by using things like touch-and-feel books that have a wide variety of textures to help your baby learn. Run your baby's hands and fingers across your skin, then across your clothes to teach the difference in texture. Soon your infant will be reaching out and touching things on her own. Encourage safe curiosity by helping your baby experience as many textures as possible.
One of the biggest shocks to a newborn's system is the bright lights and colors and sights of the new world they are thrust into all at once. Babies have limited sight just after birth, and it can take a while for their vision to adjust. You can help this along by using colors, lights (not too bright) and even just your face to help baby develop his sense of sight.
Sit with your baby and just let him stare into your face as you change your expressions, blink your eyes, open your mouth and do other things to stimulate baby's vision. Babies won't understand and process color for a while yet, but using different colors in your activities can help stimulate his vision just the same.
Babies are born without much ability to control their arms, legs and head, not to mention their entire body. These motor skills will come naturally over time, but you can help them along by having exercise time with your baby.
Bounce your baby softly on your lap to teach her general body movement. Swing her arms around softly, and move her feet back and forth. When your infant is a few months along, use objects to try to entice baby to reach out and grab. This is a motor skill that will come along after several months, so don't be frustrated if she doesn't get it at first.
You can combine all these activities into play time for baby and make sensory stimulation not just a learning time for your infant, but a bonding time for the both of you.