Help your baby to listen and learn - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Baby Talk>Development

Help your baby to listen and learn

There is so much to look at, listen to and experience during the first year of your little one’s life that you cannot blame them for being easily distracted. At the beginning of the year they are only able to focus on people and objects for very short periods of time. However, during the course of the year, your baby develops joint focus (also referred to as joint attention). This is the ability to focus on the same object at the same time with another person. By about five months, your little one will be most interested in external objects and events and about four months later they will interact with one other person – probably you. When your munchkin follows your eyes or a pointed finger to something interesting, they learn the connections between the words they hear and the object, event or concept it represents. Your baby adores listening to the sound of your voice and looking at your face! During their first year they are especially interested in sights and sounds, so sing to them when they are in a calm, alert state. Whether you choose a lullaby or your favourite pop song, you will soon see your baby’s unique response. Encourage them to anticipate the song by pausing and then singing some of the words at a different volume or speed. You can also clap your hands, stomp your feet, bang a spoon on a hard surface or shake containers filled with beans or rice. When your baby is able to hold an object, let them join in the joyful noise and ‘sing’ along. By Catherine Barry, a Mysmartkid expert, is a speech and language therapist.
Your baby and handwriting - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>1-3 Months

Your baby and handwriting

Handwriting, pencil grip and fine motor skills are some of the most common reasons for referral to occupational therapy intervention in children preparing for formal school. You can prevent this problem by following simple and easy steps from your child’s baby years. There are two types of motor skills: fine and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills generally refer to actions performed by the fingers, wrists, hands, lips, tongue and toes. It includes pencil grip, cutting, manipulating small objects, buttoning, tasting, grasping. Children may have difficulty with these because of a specific problem such as sensory processing disorder or a naturally slower progression of development. Most of the skills mentioned, are expected of an older pre-school child, so why be concerned about it while your child is a baby? You can have a look at the Hierarchy provided below. The fine motor skills develop in a predictable pattern as from baby years. The young baby, of 2 – 3 months old, bats at objects, then progresses to grasp, to release, to transfer and to manipulate objects. Of course the mouth is included in most of these explorations which is important for the development of lip and tongue movements. You can ensure that the foundational skills are well-developed in your baby. The easiest way to encourage effective eye movements, head control (strong neck muscles), shoulder control and hip and trunk stability is to use tummy time as often as possible. Tummy time encourages the child to use the important neck muscles to lift the head. As the baby wants to see more of the environment the baby uses the arms to push the head to a higher position. This encourages weight bearing on the hands which encourages strong shoulder muscles to support the arms and the development of a mature pencil grip. When the baby reaches to objects and toys in this position, rotation of the trunk is encouraged which strengthens the trunk muscles and prepare the baby for rolling, sitting and eventually for an effective, upright posture. An upright posture is essential to support the shoulders, arms, hands and fingers when writing. Once babies can sit independently they are using the hands to reach for objects, to manipulate objects, to mouth objects, to grasp, to release, to throw, and to transfer objects form one hand to the other. By reaching for objects they also start to cross the midline of the body. All of these actions prepare the baby for the complex tasks of fine motor skills, and to use the two hands in a coordinated way. Activities such as cutting, using a knife and fork, buttoning, and many more rely on the ability to use the two hands in a coordinated way. You might watch your baby on the floor, trying to keep the head up, trying to move, trying to reach for objects and you might experience a strong feeling to help. However, reconsider and provide the opportunity for a little “work out” before you step in to “help”! Keep the important skills which are developing in mind and enjoy the journey of growing and developing more skills with your child as if the baby is an athlete in training. Of course, sitting in a stroller or car chair will not develop many of the above mentioned skills. The pre-crawl stage can be very challenging as the baby wants to move and is frustrated. At this stage they are often not interested in manipulating objects for long periods of time as their body is getting ready to move. This urge is strong and necessary for motivation to get going and to crawl. To put baby in a walker doesn’t encourage crawling. Crawling is important as the left and right side of the body have to move in coordination, laying the foundation of many other skills, including the development of a dominant side. You can put your baby on the tummy on a blanket on the floor in your house and pull him through the house on all the uncarpeted floors. The baby has to hold on, strengthening hand, arm and shoulder muscles. This will give the baby the enjoyment of movement for a short period of time and will strengthen the muscles needed for crawling. To encourage the development of a mature pencil grip, the baby has to develop other grips. These are: Before the baby holds a pencil or crayon, the palmar grip is the favourite. The baby grasps an object with the hand and all the fingers, as you would do when you hold a tennis ball in your hand, closing all your fingers around the ball. The cylinder or fisted grip is usually the first one used to hold a pen or crayon. The thumb is on one side of the pencil and the other four fingers around the pencil from the other side. At about 2 – 3 years these two grips develops into different grips which will not be discussed in this article – all are one or other variation of a clumsy mature grip. The important thing to remember when you want to encourage the development of your baby’s hand writing skills in later years is tummy time and the opportunity to manipulate many different objects. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Marga Grey is the author of Sensible Stimulation. She is an occupational therapist who practised in South Africa for almost 30 years, working mainly with children and their families. She presented many workshops to parents, teachers and therapists and through her work realised the importance of the first three years as a foundation for development. This was also her field of study for a Master’s Degree from Wits University. She currently lives in Queensland, Australia where she works in a multi-disciplinary private practice, providing therapy to many children from 0 – 18 years. She is also the developer of CoordiKids, online programs to encourage the optimal development of children. For more information from marga Grey go to her website or email her at info@sensibleparenting.com.au
Top 5 Tips for your baby’s development - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>3-6 Months

Top 5 Tips for your baby’s development

Which milestones are important and when a delayed milestone is something you should worry about, are questions many parents ask. If you are a parent you probably have heard the term ‘milestone’ or ‘developmental skill’. These are the means by which we measure our baby’s growth and development. When did your baby first smile? Around 6 weeks? If so she is like most babies who reach this milestone at approximately the same age. What will interest most people is that it is not the obvious milestones like sitting, walking and talking that I am going to mention. It’s those subtle little milestones that we barely notice emerging until our baby is doing them daily, that make a big impact on their long term development: smiling, being on their tummies, rolling, crawling and babbling. Smiling – Probably one of the most important early milestones, smiling happens at around 6 weeks of age. Many babies do smile earlier and if you are sure you saw a smile in response to your face or voice from about two weeks on, the chances are you are right. Dreamy ‘milk’ smiles that are not in response to anything happen a lot in the early days and are not social smiles. If your baby is not social smiling at all by 8 weeks of age you may want to mention it to your paediatrician and then monitor her interest in the world and babbling later in the first year. What can you do to encourage smiling? Catch your baby in the calm alert state, after a good nap and when her tummy is full and then make a funny noise or just smile at her. Tummy time – Spending time on her tummy is hardly something that you would think of as a skill, but it is a position that your baby really needs to tolerate and spend time in, in order to develop other key milestones. Rolling and crawling which are both vital milestones will only develop if your baby is on her tummy frequently in the first six months. From day one make sure your baby gets to play in the tummy position. This will force her to lift her neck and develop the extensor muscles of her back. If she won’t tolerate the tummy position, lie back in a slightly raised position propped against pillows and rest her, on her tummy, on your chest. She will be encouraged to raise her head to look at you and if you are not completely horizontal, she will not have to work so hard to do so. Rolling – This vital milestone emerges in the first six months but varies hugely between babies. Most babies prefer to roll back to tummy first but this will also vary between different children. When and which way your baby rolls is not important, it is just important that she does. Rolling takes a lot of strength from core tummy muscles and it’s these muscles that are vital for crawling next and also for general postural control in your toddler. Crawling – The controversial milestone. Some babies don’t crawl. It is the one milestone that is most commonly skipped. Babies who don’t crawl go from lying and rolling to sitting and then walking. The controversy is that some health care professionals advise parents not to worry as it’s an optional milestone. The truth is that it is a very important milestone for the development of shoulder muscles, coordination and exploring the world before walking. Babies who don’t crawl may not do so because they don’t like the feel of the floor texture due to tactile defensiveness in their hands. Others don’t crawl because they did not develop their back muscles as they did not spend time on their tummies. To encourage crawling, put your baby on her tummy on the floor from early on. If by 9 months your baby is not crawling try to help her by placing a towel rolled into a ‘strap’ under her tummy with each end sticking out on the left and right. Then lift both sides just enough to support her in the crawling position. Babbling - Another important milestone and one that is directly related to exposure is babbling. The more a baby is spoken to the more she will say and the sooner she will speak. Speak to your baby, copy her early sounds and label everything she sees for her. Encourage her to babble by taking turns. If she says: “babababa” repeat it to her or even show her a dolly and say “bababa” When considering your baby’s milestones remember these top tips: Developmental milestones are only guidelines. All babies are different and will develop at a different pace. If only one milestone is delayed and your baby is otherwise doing well, do not be too concerned. The subtle milestones are often more important than the ones we notice more readily. Do not be tempted to compare your baby – it will stress you out. And trust me – a mother of 3 – development often evens out at 18 months! Spend time on the floor with your baby, talking, smiling and giving her tummy time. If you are worried and more than one of the above milestones is slow to develop – seek the advice of your peadiatrician. By Meg Faure
Stimulation is important for development - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>3-6 Months

Stimulation is important for development

“How much stimulation is enough?” Parenting comes with heavy responsibilities. One responsibility which we parents take very seriously is that of ensuring that our babies develop to their maximum potential. However advice on how we achieve this goal of optimising potential has varied over the past century. ‘Stimulation is unnecessary’ In the early 1900s a well-known American developmental psychologist and paediatrician, Arnold Gesell, popularised the belief that a child’s development was predetermined by an inherited biological plan, which he called maturation. This meant that the environment would have little bearing on a child’s development. This led to the belief that no amount of stimulation (or abuse for that matter) would impact on the outcome of the child. Parents were advised to leave their baby to develop according to nature and that the stimulation of young children was unnecessary. ‘Stimulation is essential’ In the mid-20 th century, groundbreaking research with institutionalised orphans revealed that children who had no stimulation or personal contact displayed severe developmental delay. Suddenly we woke up to that fact that the environment did indeed impact on a child’s development. Since then there has been a great deal of research with animals and humans, which has reinforced the concept that an enriched environment results in enhanced development. ‘The more, the better’ Suddenly we started to realise the importance of environment in the outcome of child development – and the pendulum swung to encourage infant stimulation and enriched environments in the first year. In fact, by the end of the 20 th century the pendulum had swung from ‘leave well alone’ to ‘the more, the better’. And so began the frenzied seeking of every opportunity to stimulate our infants. Millennium parents found themselves under extreme pressure to stimulate, stimulate, stimulate their children. The sensible middle ground It is time for a more balanced view of stimulation, and for the pendulum to swing back to the sensible middle ground. This does not mean that we should sit back and do nothing for our children. We must learn how to modulate stimulation. A baby never has more brain cells in his life than on the day he is born. However it is the connections between these cells that are important for intelligence and coordination. The connections between the brain cells are formed and strengthened by sensory information and experience - and so a certain amount of sensory input and fertile experiences are necessary for the brain to develop optimally. However when stimulation in the environment becomes overwhelming, the brain enters a zone of stress in which little can be learned and which is not optimal for enhancing development. An example would be the pressure of taking a driving examination for the first time. When stressed like this, we make more mistakes than when we are relaxed. It is this over-stimulated state and stressed state that many infants find themselves in, owing to the frenzy for stimulation. So what is needed is an enriched, but not over-stimulating environment and routine. Every child has a natural desire to develop and master his world. Parents should harness this enthusiasm. They should provide an enriched environment and they should facilitate play, in order to enhance development. How to modulate stimulation What is important is that: We do stimulate our babies in order to enhance their development Babies are not over-stimulated As parents, we watch for signs of over-stimulation Development-enhancing activities are incorporated into the daily routine, as opposed to dictating the routine Babies are not over-scheduled and taken from one stimulating environment to the next Babies are not overwhelmed with too many toys and activities Babies are left to play alone and not pressurised to achieve developmental goals. Just as the wise biblical verse says “to all things is given a time” we need to exercise wisdom when stimulating our babies. The pendulum has swung and we must now modulate the amount of stimulation we give our babies. They are more likely to excel with a moderate amount of stimulation, than with a frenzy of input that stresses both parent and baby. By Meg Faure
Making toys at home for your baby - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>6-12 Months

Making toys at home for your baby

TOP TOYS TO MAKE FOR TINY BABES (2-6 months) SCRUNCH BAG – Eyes and Ears Place cellophane into a veggie netting bag Tie it closed This toy is great for encouraging eye tracking; alerting to sound; reaching and swiping or grasping. Place baby on her tummy and put the scrunch bag under her/his hands to encourage scratching. In back lying, encourage baby to kick the scrunch bag. PAPER PLATE FACES – Eyes and Social interaction Draw a simple face on a white paper plate You can also draw patterns such as stripes, dots, squares Try placing the paper plate on your car seat for baby to look at while strapped up in his/hers car seat. Place the plate on the wall next to the changing table. Babies love looking at faces and patterns at this age and it helps them practice their focus. RATTLES – Hand grip and shoulder girdle coordination Any well sealed container e.g. Cal–C-Vita; small plastic bottles, small tins. Contents: Rice, sugar, popcorn, lentils The variety of contents all create a different sound, so try using a few different ingredients. Cylindrical containers encourage the thumb to hold in opposition to the other fingers. Rattles encourage shaking which assists the development of the shoulder girdle. PRAM / COT TOY – Vision, reach, grasp String a variety of interesting objects onto a piece of elastic e.g. Large bell, soft curler, large bead, bright shape, small rattle. Attach across cot or pram. Encourages fine motor exploration – reaching (learning depth perception); grasp and shake. BEST TOYS TO MAKE FOR BABES (6-9 months) ROLY POLY BOTTLES – Encourages tummy lying, pivoting, creeping and crawling You will need an empty 2L Coke bottle – must be plastic. Inside place water, glitter, a rubber toy that expands in size Other contents = dish washer liquid to make bubbles Rolling from side to side encourages eye tracking across the midline Roll to the right or left and encourage baby to pivot to that side Crawling babies love to follow this toy. SENSORY SAUSAGE – Encourages sensory exploration and crawlingTake 3 veggie netting bags and fill each with safe, interesting items e.g. Corks, purity lids, cellophane, balls, squeaky toys Join the bags together to make a sensory sausage. In sitting, encourage baby to reach for dangling sausage In back lying, encourage baby to reach across her body and roll over. Encourage baby to follow the ‘snake’ in creeping or crawling. STRINGED TOYS – Cause and effect, Object Permanence, Pincer grip Choose baby’s favourite rattle or toy Attach a thick piece of string to the end of it Place the toy out of reach and the string next to baby – as she/he pulls the string the toy comes closer. This is cause and effect. Hide the toy and only show the string, to encourage Object Permanence. Pulling string encourages the pincer grip. FEELY BOOK – Tactile exploration and fine motor manipulation Make a texture book using different squares of material e.g. satin, rubber, velvet, Hessian. Punch holes into the squares with a paper punch Assemble the texture squares with ribbon to make a booklet. Encourage feeling, turning, rubbing on and naming body parts. ARTICLE FOR MOMS AND BABES SIMPLE TOYS TO MAKE FOR SUPER BABES (9-12 months) MUFFIN BALLS – Posting and fitting and sorting Using a muffin tray, encourage baby to place tennis balls into each hole. If you have two muffin trays, encourage baby to place fruit e.g. oranges into the holes. This encourages eye hand coordination; one-to-one association; posting and early sorting. RING ON STICK – Eye hand coordination; bilateral coordination Using a wooden spoon and a variety of rings e.g. toilet roll; serviette ring; curtain ring etc, encourage and help baby to place the roll or ring on the handle of the wooden spoon. This is a great exercise to encourage motor planning and the ability to coordinate the two hands together. FEELY BOX FOR FINGERS –Poking and Pointing; Touch Collect 2 boxes (toothpaste or panado/Calpol box) Line one box with sandpaper and the other with velvet. Cut a finger sized round hole on each side of the boxes. Encourage baby to poke into the holes with her/his index finger. Talk about the feel e.g. soft, rough etc. This is good practice for index finger isolation, poking and pointing, touch stimulating and touch discrimination. RAIN MAKER – Cause and Effect Punch holes into the base of a plastic container (e.g. 2L plastic milk bottle cut in half). When baby is playing in the bath, make rain by filling up the container and lifting it up. Drizzle water on parts of the body and sing a ‘raining’ song. Encourages filling and emptying; touch sensation; cause and effect. VELCRO HEAD – Faces and Fine motor Use a furry ball and make your own facial parts (eyes, nose, mouth), out of felt material. Glue or sew Velcro (hooked side) onto the back of each part. Mom sticks the parts onto the furry ball and baby pulls them off. Baby tries to replace them onto the ball. This encourages pincer grip; strength of fingers; placing; body concept. PULL OUT FEELY BOX – Pulling out; Putting in; Feeling Using a large box (shoe box or Xerox box), cut two hand sized holes into the top and side. Place different textured material into the box. Encourage baby to use the pincer grip to pull out the pieces of material. Mom uses the other hole to demonstrate. You can also vary this game by posting toys into the box – big and small – watch how baby problem solves. This encourages tactile stimulation and discrimination; pincer grip; and pulling strengthens the shoulders and arms.
Toys and your baby’s development - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>6-12 Months

Toys and your baby’s development

As three month old Jack lies under his play gym, he makes all sorts of connections in his brain, wiring it for intelligence, fine motor skills and communication. We know that it is important to stimulate our babies and that more brain development happens in the first three years of life than at any other stage. For this reason there is pressure on us, as parents, to buy the best toys for our babies and provide them with the opportunities to learn from their environment. Toys are one of the best tools we use but often they just end up in a pile in the corner of the playroom and no one benefits from them at all. Antoinette Scandling, special education teacher and mother has some good ideas on how to maximize the potential toys bring to stimulation. The first thing I like to do both in my classroom and with my son’s toys at home is to arrange them into categories. Have separate boxes for different types of toys: puzzles and games, wheel toys, soft toys, imaginative play, manipulation toys, noisy toys etc. This way you can always quickly find what you are looking for, or replace stray pieces that you may find after packing a particular toy away. This helps you feel organised and a little in control of things, especially in the early days. Secondly, it is a good idea to have a small basket of toys in each room of the house where you find you spend most of your time in during the day, and try to make those toys relevant to the room, for example, keep a box of soft toys for the bedroom, a small basket of bath toys in the bathroom to explore whilst waiting for mum to put her make up on, or toys that make different noises for the kitchen. This helps your baby to understand that each room in the house has a different function. Choose one area in your home to arrange as your baby’s main play area, usually your lounge or perhaps a conservatory or playroom. Plan out 5 different areas within that room where you place a toy or group of toys. Laying out similar toys in predictable places each day helps your baby to feel organised and in control. The acronym S.P.A.C.E will help you to arrange the layout of the toys in different areas in the house or room: S stands for Soft area and Social Play - Put books out on the couch or a pile of pillows. This is where your baby can go to wind down or when he is feeling sleepy. You can also include some soft toys, blankets or security objects here. You can use this area to massage your baby, just have a cuddle, play soothing sounds or soft music. P stands for Physical development. Here put out toys that enhance fine and/or gross motor skills, such as anything that your baby can manipulate and explore with their hands or for older babies things they can pull themselves up on, push and pull toys, balls and toys that encourage movement. A stands for Aesthetic. This is an area where baby can be creative. A tape recorder playing songs and rhymes. Explorative and tactile play with spaghetti, shaving foam, corn starch, finger paints (warning - extremely messy and must be very well supervised). Books and musical instruments also go well in this area, as well as fantasy play objects like dressing up clothes or play food. Even just putting out some of your clothes for your baby to explore is a good idea. Clothes can be put out in categories, such as all hats one day. It doesn’t matter that your baby can’t put them on yet and play around in them, just exploring them and interacting with you is enough to provide essential learning opportunities. C stands for Cognitive Development. This area is for puzzles, games, cause-and-effect toys i.e. push this button and something will happen, noisy toys, colours, shapes, numbers, bright pictures, and toys that might stimulate any of their 5 senses. For older babies simple construction toys, like large blocks or the big duplo. E is for Emotion Development. Here, put pictures of your child’s close family members or other babies that you see regularly. Mirrors are a great idea, but make sure that any mirrors are shatter proof and have safety glass. You can mix the soft play and emotional areas together as they can overlap somewhat. When your baby is young, 1 toy or activity for each area is enough. As he gets older, increase how many activities you offer your baby. By Antoinette Scandling
Baby Stimulation Programs - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>3-6 Months

Baby Stimulation Programs

Every well-meaning parent wants to do the best for their baby. We focus heavily on our baby’s milestones and create expectations for ourselves as parents to have the best, brightest baby on the block. One only has to watch the comical extent to which this is taken by the grandfather in the movie ‘Meet the Fockers’, to know that we may just take ourselves too seriously in the pursuit of a brilliant baby!! Stimulation is important The reason we have the enormous focus on stimulating our babies is that there is certainly overwhelming evidence that an enriched environment does enhance brain development and babies who are stimulated are more likely to develop to their potential. How to stimulate your baby According to Baby Sense, “ You can enhance your baby’s development in all areas by structuring her environment and providing opportunities for constructive, age appropriate play, taking care not to over stimulate her…”. There are a variety of options for stimulating your baby including buying or making specific toys for stimulation, playing activities and ensuring all the senses are stimulated. Almost every baby magazine has ideas for games to play with your baby to stimulate development. Baby Stimulation Programs Another choice open to parents are stimulation groups or programs These groups are a wonderful idea for stimulating babies and definitely hold merit for a number of reasons: Interactions with other moms We cannot underestimate how isolating having a new baby can be. In the early months particularly, we can feel very alone and adrift. Baby groups provide a structured forum to meet other moms. Many a great friendship is struck up over tea at these groups. Furthermore, just when you feel you are the only mom on earth who hasn’t slept in a week or wants to calmly put your baby up for adoption, you will find that many other moms are experiencing the same. Ideas for stimulation You may think that an hour or two a week of stimulation classes surely has little carry over for enhancing development. Nothing is further from the truth. Not only will your baby benefit from the stimulation but more than that you will come away with some wonderful ideas for stimulation at home. One on one time with your baby In our busy lives often the only face time we have with our babies is on the changing mat or pushing a trolley around the shops. Baby stimulation classes force us to slow down and spend time with our babies. These precious moments help us bond and also enhance our baby’s emotional development. Enhancing development Of course the most obvious reason for going to baby stimulation classes is to enhance development. Most franchises have programs specially developed by OT’s, phyios or education specialists. These people know and understand development and how to enhance all areas. Stimulation classes benefit the sensory development of your baby as well as the movement milestones, language, perception and emotional development. How to choose which class to attend There are a wide variety of companies and franchises offering stimulation programs. Use these guidelines to help you choose the right group. Choose a class close to your home – here is no point in spending an hour in the car for an hour class. Try schedule classes according to your baby’s sleep schedule, choosing a class that falls in your baby’s awake time. A tired baby will not benefit from all the activities and will become irritable during the class. Make sure your baby is in a class with his age range and don’t be tempted to compare developmental milestones as it puts pressure on you and your baby. Match the activities and leader to your baby and your enjoyment and don’t be shy to shop around until you’re happy. Don’t be tempted to over schedule your baby. Attending too many classes is stressful on your time and budget and is not great for your baby either. For babies under a year, just choose one form of stimulation class. After a year of age, up to two programs, such as one swimming and one stimulation is enough. Stimulation classes are a wonderful way to interact with your baby and enhance development. But always remember that the most important principle is for you and your baby to have fun and to enjoy the interaction with other moms. By Meg Faure
Ideas for stimulating your baby - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>3-6 Months

Ideas for stimulating your baby

Stimulating your baby’s fine motor development in the bath and on the floor. Successful play ideas are: SIMPLE . . . FUN . . . AFFORDABLE . . . NOVEL . . . REPEATED Successful play ideas: STIMULATE THE SENSES . . . CHALLENGE THE MOTOR ABILITIES REMEMBER TO: TUNE INTO YOU : Are you in the right mood? Are you relaxed? Do you have the energy? Are you ready to play with love? If YES, then you are ready for some fun. TUNE INTO YOUR BABY : Is she well fed? Has he slept enough? Is she in a good mood? Is he in a quiet alert state? If YES, then baby is ready for some fun. HAPPY HANDS - ENHANCING FINE MOTOR DEVELOPMENT IN THE BATH - - - WITH YOUR TINY BABY (0-3 months) Hands are mostly clenched at this stage, and they are often up close to the face and mouth to help baby “hold it together”, as she helps herself regulate. With your loving touch, kiss and caress her hands, enjoying the miracle of such tiny fingers and nails. Gently massage her little hands, palms and fingers. Toward the 3 month stage, bring hands to the midline and use a soft sponge to rub her hands, encouraging her eyes to engage on her hands and the object. IN THE BATH - - - WITH YOUR ENGAGING BABY (3-6 months) Head and hands become steady in the midline. She is now fascinated with her hands, gaining some control of them so that she can swat, reach and grab. Place a slightly textured sponge or a netting body scrub on her chest, and watch as she brings both her hands together, trapping it in the midline. Place a face cloth on her chest and watch in wonder as she tries to scratch at it, learning to use her hands and fingers. Drip water from the sponge or cloth, onto her hands, and watch as they come up to reach. IN THE BATH - - - WITH YOUR INTERACTIVE BABY (6-9months) Babies at this stage, love to interact with and copy you, so make the most of this ‘give and take’ play. Encourage your baby to bang two toys together, by demonstrating or assisting her. Hide toys in bubble bath foam. Your baby can practice reaching for and finding the toy. Find toys with holes in, and demonstrate or assist your baby to poke with her index finger. IN THE BATH - - - WITH YOUR BUSY BABY (9-12 months) This is a time for exploration and self-discovery. Babies learn what they are capable of in order to make an impact on the world. Collect a variety of sponges, scrubbing brushes and pot scourers to make water play a fun sensory experience. Make holes into the base of a plastic container and make rain. Try spraying some shaving foam onto the side of the bath and encourage baby to use her index finger to ‘draw’ in the foam. Give baby a bowl and a variety of items that sink or float e.g. toy car, cork, rubber ball, metal spoon. Baby will have fun retrieving the toys and placing them into the container. PLACE A BASKET OR TOY BOX IN EACH ROOM, AND SLOWLY FILL IT WITH AGE APPROPRIATE OBJECTS AND TOYS ON THE FLOOR - - - WITH YOUR TINY BABY (0-3 months) At this age, you are your baby’s favourite play thing. He only has eyes for you, so indulge each other. While gazing into your baby’s adoring eyes, gently take both his little hands up to your face. Rub his hands on your cheeks, mouth and hair. While singing gently, take both his hands and rub them against your clothing, giving him interesting touch experiences. ON THE FLOOR - - - WITH YOUR ENGAGING BABY (3-6 months) Alternate time on tummy and time on back as baby learns to use all her muscles. She will also learn to reach from both these positions. Playgyms are useful toys at this age. If you do not have one, string a thick cord between two chairs and attach some large, noisy, textured objects onto elastic, for your baby to reach for and grab. Try some of the following: a rattle, a small sieve or tea strainer, a sock filled with a plastic bag, a set of measuring spoons. ON THE FLOOR - - - WITH YOUR INTERACTIVE BABY (6-9months) Remember to follow your baby’s interests and reinforce the importance of what he is doing. Your baby will love banging, so sit him on the floor with a pot and a wooden spoon. Show him how to drum. Attach a favourite toy onto thick string and place the toy out of reach. Show baby how to pull the string in order to pull the toy closer. Babies love string and cord as they develop a pinching grip. Make a tower of blocks or empty margarine tubs, just out of reach and to the side of your sitting baby. Encourage him to reach for and knock down the tower. ON THE FLOOR - - - WITH YOUR BUSY BABY (9-12 months) There is a growing desire for independence and babies need to be given this space. Activities need to be novel and fun. Place cooked rice or peas into a muffin tray and watch how baby practices picking them out with his index and thumb in a pinching grip. He will also love posting balls into the muffin tray. Place a sucker stick or plastic spoon into a lump of playdough. Encourage baby to strengthen his fingers by pulling the objects out of the playdough. Babies love opening and closing - Try using a hinged shoe box. Place a variety of shaped and textured toys inside for baby to take out and put in. WARNING: ALWAYS BE WITH YOUR BABY WHEN HE/SHE IS ENGAGING IN ANY OF THESE ACTIVITIES. By Kate Bailey
Getting the stimulation balance right - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>1-3 Months

Getting the stimulation balance right

Your baby can only benefit optimally from stimulation when it is balanced, varied and meaningful and occurs at a time when he can best utilize the sensory input. “…your baby can only benefit optimally from stimulation when it is balanced, varied and meaningful and occurs at a time when he can best utilize the sensory input..” Stimulation is important for brain development – of that we are sure. The connections (synapses) that are made between brain cells are vital for development. For example a connection in the language part of the brain will result in understanding of speech or in speech itself. Connections are mainly made between brain cells in the presence of stimulation. As important as stimulation is for development; we do not want to over stimulate our babies either. It’s a fine balance that we need to aim for. Here are a few guidelines on ‘sense-able’ stimulation: Appropriate stimulation at opportune times of the day is beneficial for your baby’s development. Choose a time of day when your baby has been fed and is well rested. This may possibly be after the early morning nap. In a content state, your baby will best benefit from stimulation activities. Overstimulation leads to fussiness, especially in young babies and is not beneficial. Watch your baby for signs of fussing and withdrawal and stimulate him only when he is calm and alert. While you are stimulating your baby he may start to show early signs of overstimulation, such as looking away, grizzling, high pitched shrieks and hand sucking. When you notice these subtle signals, stop the stimulation or remove your baby from the stimulus. Don’t over schedule your baby, rushing him from one activity to the next. Choose baby classes with care and thought and schedule them so they don’t interfere with your baby’s sleep times. An overtired baby will not enjoy or benefit from stimulation. As a rule of thumb: babies under three months need no additional stimulation groups, as they are very susceptible to overstimulation. Babies under six months don’t need extra stimulation in the form of a group but moms benefit immensely from meeting other moms in a group and getting ideas for stimulation or massage at home. Between six and twelve months one group a week suffices. Balance calming and stimulatory activities and link them to the time of day. Calm activities are important before sleep times. Keep stimulation for playtime during the day. When your baby shows signs of overstimulation, take him for a walk or put on soft calming music in this way the calming activity will also be beneficial to his development. By Meg Faure

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