The first year of life is when the brain grows and develops the fastest so stimulating your baby in the right way can help his or her brain development. Playing and interacting with your baby will have the greatest impact on their development, as it will encourage their curiosity to learn. Stimulating your baby’s senses will also help improve their attention span, memory, and the development of their nervous system. This in turn helps them reach their developmental milestones faster; have improved muscle coordination and motor skills.
The best way to start encouraging your baby’s development is to ensure their immediate surroundings stimulate all their senses: smell, sight, touch and hearing. It is also important to set aside time to play and interact with your baby in ways that stimulate your baby.
Visual stimulation can include:
- Brightly coloured and reflective hanging toys in the pram, cot, car seat.
- Giving your baby a plastic mirror so that they can learn to recognise themselves.
- Using brightly coloured lights to attract their gaze e.g. optic fibre toys.
- Looking at your baby when feeding them, changing your facial expression whilst looking at them or playing peekaboo.
- You can stimulate your baby’s hearing by:
- Using toys that make a noise e.g. rattles, bells, squeakers, rainmakers.
- Musical toys.
- Singing songs with your baby.
- Talking to your baby – explain what you are doing and ask them questions.
- Reading stories to your baby.
Your baby’s sense of touch can be stimulated by:
- Water play
- Exposing your baby to different textures by stroking them with different fabrics e.g. soft brush, silk, cotton wool and rough sponges.
- Messy play to allow them to explore different texture with their hands e.g. playing with food, shaving foam, play dough, cooked pasta, peas, beans.
- Babies prefer a firm but gentle touch and being massaged.
Your baby’s sense of taste and smell can be stimulated by introducing your baby to contrasting tastes and smells (for instance sweet and savoury) as well as textured foods.
Are you looking for a specialist paediatric physio to assess your baby’s development? We are able to see you and your baby at home and can often arrange an appointment within 24 hours. Contact us today on 0207 884 0374 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.