The first five years of life are critical for a child’s development. The brain can actually be likened to a store in which the availability of streets leading to it can make or break the business.
What can you read in this article?
- What are great early learning activities for babies?
- How to play with baby: Suggested activities according to age
- Other ideas on how to play with newborn
- When to take a break
Babies brain development
The more the brain is stimulated, the more pathways or “streets” are developed. It will grow and grow as long as there are many paths that people can use to go to it. The “streets” of the brain will only multiply when stimulated with early learning activities for babies.
There’s so much to look forward to in a baby’s first year, from first words to first steps. Should parents encourage their new bundles to reach these milestones at their own time, or should they offer them a gentle nudge?
A new study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology highlights the importance of parents challenging their children.
“The brains of young children are very malleable—even the smallest babies can be challenged,” says Audrey van der Meer, lead researcher, and professor of developmental neuropsychology.
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She discovered that brain, sensory, and motor skills development all occur at the same time using advanced electroencephalography (EEG) equipment, implying that babies learn better when they may explore different materials and new situations.
You don’t have to go out and buy expensive toys to provide your infant with brain stimulation. The most important thing is that you get them moving and thinking.
To ensure that you and your baby get the most out of playing, make sure you identify the signals your child sends when it’s time to play.
These signals could include the following:
- Observing you or others with curiosity
- Reaching out to you.
More than any other caregiver, babies and toddlers learn and laugh more when they are with their parents, talking, moving, and playing. Here are four types of activities for babies that you can do to help your baby learn.
What are great early learning activities for babies?
Movement is the key to learning, and it is one of the early learning activities for babies that parents must do.
When babies move or are moved, their immature nervous and muscular systems are stimulated. It is interesting to note that the part of the brain that processes movement also processes learning.
Early movement and motor development, therefore, have a direct relationship with intelligence and later cognitive learning that are important for school readiness.
What to do: Free your baby from her seat and let her move. If she’s a crawler, let her crawl; if she’s a walker, let her walk! It goes without saying that if she’s a runner, let her run!
After her bath time ritual, march to the beat of a favorite tune, swing, and sway, and lift her up and down. She will be squealing in delight and learning too!
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Listening is different from just hearing. It is crucial in obtaining information, learning, and being part of a communication process. It is also through listening that we enjoy music.
Active listening activities help children develop focused attention, enabling them to get the most out of what they listen to. It’s never too early to start developing your baby’s listening skills. It is one of the activities for babies often overlooked.
What to do: Listening activities for babies can be as simple as directing your child’s attention to a distinct sound in your home. Do you hear that? That’s the telephone.
Riiiing! When you are out and about and you hear some birds chirping, look for the birds and point it out to your baby while saying, “Do you hear the birds, baby?” Watch his face brighten in wonder, and eventually, in recognition.
Fingerplays are valuable activities for babies that help them acquire skills essential to their development and learning. Fingerplay helps improve and advance memory and language skills because of the songs that you sing while holding up your fingers. It also aids in the development of hand-eye coordination.
What to do: Try the different rhymes that you know! This Little Piggy is fun for tickling baby’s toes and Once I Caught A Fish Alive is a great tool for introducing counting using fingers.
Five Little Monkeys will get your baby giggling as you make your fingers jump up and down on your palm and then fall from the “bed.”
4. Quiet Time
Relaxation is a learned behavior that helps in emotional development. Children need to learn to relax, to “refill” their energy after actively playing and exploring all day.
Helping them learn how to relax will give them lifelong skills in handling stress, regulating their emotions, and being focused and reflective.
Quiet time can also be had while listening to music before naptime or bedtime. There are so many ways to integrate early childhood development concepts in daily activities for babies. It just takes a little bit of planning and a great deal of fun
What to do: In the afternoon, around the time that your baby takes his nap, darken the room, play some quiet music, and cuddle with her. Your breathing together will do wonders in relaxing both of you!
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How to play with baby: Suggested activities according to age
They don’t require much more than a loving caregiver who is willing to respond to and connect with the baby’s needs. Babies become more comfortable with your face by holding them and watching their facial expressions.
Singing or reading aloud to your baby, ideally from picture books with brightly colored pages, will also help to activate his or her brain. It’s critical to start exposing babies to language as soon as possible.
It’s important to introduce your infant to a variety of textures as they become more mobile and reach for objects. Parents can do this by giving their children a variety of objects to investigate.
Face recognition can be improved by playing peekaboo or having the baby look in the mirror. To help them grow their strength, give them lots of tummy time every day.
Stacking cups or any other item that helps with fine motor and growth motor skills would be ideal. The most crucial thing, though, is to have a caregiver who will connect with them on a one-on-one basis.
Allow your baby to play with a ball when he begins to crawl and watch it roll away. This encourages the baby to chase it. Push and straddle toys will also assist your baby in getting moving and learning to walk.
It will enhance your baby’s language development if you have back-and-forth talks with them and ask them questions.
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Walking with them and exposing them to more of the world is a terrific way to stimulate them. How about smart phones or any electronic gadgets?
At this age, there is no evidence that babies require screen devices for learning. In fact, it is not recommended that they use electronic devices until they are two years old.
In-person interactions with a caregiver, which they wouldn’t get from a screen, are greatly useful.
Other ideas on how to play with newborn
It doesn’t have to be difficult to find enjoyable baby activities that will help your child’s skills and development. They shouldn’t be, in fact.
Many of the best games you can play with your child to help them learn about the world around them may even be something you already do.
Other ways to get your infant to learn and play include:
- Clap your baby’s hands together gently or stretch his arms (crossed, out wide, or overhead).
- Gently move your baby’s legs as if he or she were riding a bike.
- Give your baby a favorite toy to focus on and follow, or shake a rattle for him to find.
- Allow your baby to spend time on his or her tummy while awake to strengthen the neck and shoulders. Always keep an eye on your baby during “tummy time,” and be ready to assist if he or she becomes tired or frustrated. Never place a newborn on his or her stomach to sleep. To lessen the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome, infants should sleep on their backs (SIDS).
- Model a variety of facial expressions for your child to copy.
- Talk to your infant and wait for him or her to reply.
- Read aloud to your child.
Helping your baby learn…
Being intentional when it comes to early learning activities for babies is a good start in helping your baby learn. Listening activities can just calling your baby’s attention to any sound you hear, while fingerplay can be easily introduced during diaper changes. Dancing is for times when your baby is alert and feeling playful.
Reply to coos and gurgles with your own sounds. Encourage your child to continue to use his or her voice. Your child will learn about language and back-and-forth conversation this way.
Colorful toys of various textures, shapes, and sizes should be available for your infant to hold and explore. Introduce an infant gym with exciting dangling toys for your baby to swat at this age.
Alternatively, hold a toy just out of reach for your child to reach for, swat, and grasp. Toys should not be hung from cribs or other infant equipment since they could tangle your kid.
When to take a break
It’s also important to know when your baby has had enough of baby games and requires a break. Crying, wriggling, fussing, spitting up, and looking away are some of the indications.
The key is to be fully engaged in the play. Make lots of eye contact so you’re aware of your baby’s changing reactions.
Playing with your baby may be a joyful activity, a bonding experience, a learning experience, and a developmental opportunity for her. Whatever game you choose, your baby will enjoy spending time with you, and you could discover that playing together becomes a highlight of your day as well!
Keep in mind that newborns develop at different rates and that normal development spans a wide range. If you have any issues about how your baby sees or hears, or if you have any questions or concerns about your baby’s development, speak with your doctor.
Updates by Matt Doctor