Playing and Stimulation

Parenting in the Early Years

Playing and Stimulation

Family playing togetherTake time every day to enjoy and stimulate your baby. This should be an enjoyable time for both of you. Play with your baby when he is quiet and awake. Stimulation can enhance your baby's mental, physical and emotional development.

Stimulated babies often have longer attention spans, gain weight faster, roll over, crawl, walk and smile sooner. Entertain your baby frequently throughout the day. When you have your baby's attention, he will turn toward you or the stimulating object, stretch fingers and toes, and decrease sucking. Your baby will smile or make happy sounds to let you know this time is enjoyable. When your baby cries, or seems unhappy or tired, it is time to stop.

Vision

At birth, an infant's vision is best between 8 and 14 inches from his eyes. Your baby can hear well and especially likes voices. The senses of smell and taste are also present. Your baby likes to be touched and enjoys movement.

Your baby likes to look at faces. Hold him so your face is close enough (10 to 12 inches) for eye-to-eye contact. You can also hold him to a mirror to see his reflection. Babies like dark and light or black and white objects best because they offer a strong contrast. Bulls-eyes, checker boards, small stuffed toys, and black and white mobiles are all good sight stimulators and can be made very inexpensively.

Hearing

Your voice is a favorite sound to your baby. You can talk, sing or make sounds over and over to excite him. You can also use a rattle or small bell next to your baby's ears. Music is a great stimulator, so play music softly or use a music box to stimulate your baby's hearing.

Touch

Hugs, kisses, cuddling and holding are the best touches to a baby. Do not be afraid to do all of these things-you will not spoil your baby.

Massage and stroke your infant. Your baby enjoys the skin to skin contact. You can do this during bathing or at any time. Touch and stroke your baby's skin with different textures or materials. Your baby will also like to suck on a pacifier, finger, thumb or fist.

Smell

Babies enjoy the smell of household cooking odors. They also enjoy the smells of your perfume and spices. They soon know the smells of mom and dad.

Motion

Rocking, carrying and swinging feel good to babies. Take your baby for a ride in a carriage or stroller. The ride and the fresh air are good for both of you. These activities also encourage the development of balance.