Activities To Boost Your Baby’s Development

Want to be a great parent? Want to raise a happy, healthy, well-behaved kid? Want to live in a home where discipline becomes unnecessary? The secret is to create a closer connection with your child.

Bond With Your Child

A noted child therapist, Erik Erikson, talks about the basic task of the first years of life as being the development of either trust or mistrust. Babies who are attended to quickly, who are fed, changed, and cuddled when they indicate a need- form infant attachments and learn to trust those who care for them. There is no such thing as “spoiling” a baby- meeting her needs build trust. Conversely, a child whose needs aren’t met on a timely basis learns to question and potentially mistrust others. Trusting others could become an ongoing issue for the latter child.

Massage Your Baby

Studies have shown that massaging an infant can reduce crying and fussiness, help her sleep more peacefully, and alleviate common wail-inducers like constipation and colic. Some say that it even boosts a baby’s ability to fight off germs.

“When you give your baby a massage, you’re actually stimulating her central nervous system,” explains Tiffany Field, PhD, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine. That sets off a chain reaction. It makes her brain produce more serotonin, a feel-good chemical, and less cortisol, a hormone that’s secreted in response to stress. As a result, your baby’s heart-rate and breathing slow down, and she becomes more relaxed!

Make Eye Contact

Researchers at the University of Cambridge say that when you make eye contact with a baby, you sync their brainwaves to yours. This could, in turn, bolster their learning and communication skills.

The University of Cambridge study watched as 36 infants grazed at their moms. The team used electroencephalography (EEG), which measures electrical activity via electrodes in a skull cap. As it turned out, the babies’ brainwaves aligned with their mothers’, and the baby made more effort to try and communicate when the adult’s gaze met theirs. The babies also made more vocalizations when they were in sync.

Bounce & Sway

Help your baby have a sense of movement. Gently bounce, sway, and rock her. Dance with her! The motion of a rocking chair or hammock is calming and sleep-inducing for humans of all ages, so it’s no wonder babies love motion when they’re upset! 

But just like every person with different likes and dislikes, each baby is also unique in their favorite soothing motions. Some babies enjoy a vigorous motion like the bouncing on a yoga ball, while others might like a simple slow rocking in the glider.

The best way to successfully use motion to calm a fussy baby is to ensure your rhythmic motions match baby’s crying! If he’s really upset, you’ll need to be fast and jiggly and only slow as his cries stop and he begins to nod off. The best way to calm even the fussiest baby is to start small with small, jiggly motions.

Tummy Time

Leaving your baby on her belly for a few minutes while she’s awake helps her work all the muscles in her upper body, promoting trunk stability and head control. “Tummy time helps your infant build strength in his back, legs, arms, and neck,” says Joanne Cox, M.D., a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston. “This helps with further development, such as rolling over and sitting.”

Tummy time also encourages your little one to practice reaching and pivoting, skills that are often precursors to crawling. And research shows that a lack of tummy time can delay your baby from meeting physical development milestones like lifting her head, rolling over, sitting up, and more.

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