In the first three years of life your baby develops more than at any other stage in his life. When and how to develop your baby.
How can I enhance my baby’s development?
In the first three years of life your baby develops more than at any other stage in his life. His brain is like a sponge just absorbing stimulation. It is important to stimulate your baby through his senses. However, beware of over stimulating your baby. Baby Sense uses the TEAT framework to enhance development.
Timing – Firstly always time your interactions with your baby according to the time of day and his state. Sleep times and the time shortly before sleep is the time for calming input such as rocking, a quiet walk in the garden and a calm sleep environment.
Awake times are times for stimulation of specific skills according to your baby’s age and stage. But do not stimulate your baby indiscriminately when he is awake – the calm alert state is a good time to present fun and games but when he is active alert or fussing he won’t learn much from the well meant stimulation. The key to optimizing your interactions with your baby is timing them well.
Environment – Instead of planning stimulation activities according to the time of day, rather structure your baby’s environment so that he can benefit from his interactions developmentally. In this way, opportunities for development enhancing experiences are always present. An example of this would be to have a mobile over his changing mat to enhance focusing or having a basket of tactile (touch) toys in your lounge for him to play with.
Activities – These are games you play or interactions with your baby that affect all aspects of development. They can be either stimulatory or calming. You should implement the activities at the appropriate time and within the appropriate environment to enhance development. A good sleep time activity is reading a book, whereas for stimulation of reach you may want to put your baby under an interesting mobile with toys he can reach for attached.
Toys – A toy is any object your baby can play with or tool you can use to provide calming or stimulating input. It includes everyday household objects, books, store-bought or home-made toys, music and outdoor equipment. There are wonderful toys for stimulation and even young babies will benefit from appropriate stimulation with toys.
Once again it’s all a question of timing. Some toys are great for stimulation but should be used only when your baby is ready to benefit from the activity. A busy mobile or activity gym can enhance the development of a three-month-old in many ways as it can promote eye-movement control and eye-hand co-ordination. But trying to interest a tired baby in a mobile or gym is likely to over-stimulate him, pushing him into an overloaded state very quickly. Then he will neither benefit from the activity developmentally nor will he remain calm.
The important principles are:
- Not to over stimulate babies
- Schedule stimulation classes for times in the day when the baby is most receptive i.e. in the calm alert state.
- Not to over schedule babies
Have a balance between stimulatory and calming activities.
By Meg Faure