Help Your Baby Develop
When your baby was growing in your womb, you could feel her moving, pushing, shoving, turning and kicking. These actions will continue after she is born. If you lay her down on a flat surface, she will be moving her limbs, trying to turn her head, and attempting to wriggle around to find the source of a sound. Here are some ideas to help your baby in her motor, visual and auditory development in the first few months.
Help your baby learn how to control the movements of her head, body, arms and legs by positioning and playing simple games from birth, particularly through floor-based play in a safe environment. This is important as the movements will help your baby learn to sit, crawl, stand and eventually walk.
Let your baby spend some time on her tummy. This will strengthen her back and help her learn to crawl. Place some toys in front of her so that she will be motivated to stay in this position. Only put her in this position when you are around. Do not allow her to sleep on her tummy as it increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Back practicePlace your baby on a blanket and roll the sides in so that she is in the middle. Place a clean, rolled diaper under her knees to support her hips. Slowly and gently pull up the blanket so that she is raised to a sitting position. As your baby grows older, you may reduce the support on her head and neck.
Time on the side
Put your baby on her side, with a rolled blanket supporting her back and another supporting her front. Tuck in her legs. You can lie down next to her and sing, talk or play finger games.
A newborn is unable to focus on anything further than 25cm from her face. It is thus important to structure her visual world to fit her range of vision. A stimulating and interesting environment will help your baby develop her vision, which is important for her to explore the environment and acquire new skills.
Decorate the side of your baby’s cot with photographs of yourself or one of your children. This helps your baby learn to focus as she surveys the pictures and objects around her.
Hang a colourful mobile over your baby’s cot, or hang interesting toys on her pram or stroller hood. Ensure that the mobile and toys are properly attached. This gives your baby extra interesting things to look at and focus on.
Put interesting toys just out of your baby’s reach while she is having tummy time. This encourages her to move and explore.
One of the best ways to soothe a baby is by using your voice. What’s more, you can use different sounds to help develop her hearing and help your baby make the connection between sight, action and sound.
Hold your baby close to you and sing or coo at her. This will help her learn to focus through listening and moving towards your voice.
Eye tracking exercise
Use a noise-making toy to attract your baby’s attention while you move the toy slowly from one side of her face to another. See if your baby’s eyes follow the movement – this is called eye tracking.
Adapted from the brochure "Your Guide to Helping Your Baby Grow" courtesy of Singapore General Hospital.
The text of this article was originally published on the website of the Health Promotion Board. Reproduced with some modifications with permission from HPB.