It’s hard to imagine anything sweeter than a baby. They are so beautiful and so pure with their soft little coos and wonderful baby smells. As you sit there, snuggling them, like you love to do, it’s hard not to wonder what they will be like just a few short months from now. When will their first steps happen? What about those first words that are sure to melt your heart and make you fall in love all over again? The development of your little one is brimming with so much anticipation and excitement that it can be hard to contain sometimes!
While it is true that babies develop at their own rate, there are a few things that you can do yourself to encourage them along their way.
Nutrition just can’t get any higher on the list. Vital to their physical growth and development, proper nourishment is necessary for each and every milestone on your baby’s list of firsts. Whether they are breast or bottle fed, or are now learning to feed themselves, be sure to follow your pediatrician’s recommendations for both diet and supplementation. While the internet is chock-full of potential wisdom, your baby’s doctor will know what works best for your little one.
Right behind nutrition on the list of most important things for your child is sleep. Big brain and body work is happening during these downtime hours, so it is essential that your little one receives the recommended amount of sleep according to their age.
The benefits of bonding with your baby cannot be denied. For some, the attachment to their child is immediate and natural, but for others, it can take some time. Both ways are beautiful. Holding your baby close while breast or bottle feeding, having skin-to-skin contact during those early newborn days, gazing at and talking to your little one – all of these promote the bond that will help further their development throughout the coming year.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s children’s books, magazines, or newspapers. Just read! Children are like a sponge. When you read to them, you teach them about the world around them and all of its colors and people and places and things! There’s no need to wait until they’re older for this. In addition to the added benefits of hearing you speak, introducing your baby to these wonders now will feed their mind for a lifetime.
Speak to your baby
Babies learn so much simply by observing the world around them, and listening to you speak is surely no exception. Speaking to your baby regularly provides tremendous brain-enhancing development that boosts their language and vocabulary processing skills later in life. Whether the topic is about the weather, the outfit that you’re wearing, or the day that lies ahead for you both, just let the words flow. Letting your thoughts become your dialogue with your little one will strengthen and encourage their development in mind-boggling ways!
Provide your little one with a nice soft surface such as a baby play mat, and watch them explore the world on their own for a while. This is such a wonderful way to foster those early buds of confidence and independence while you take a much-needed moment to refresh your own energy supply!
Babies love to explore the world with their hands. During one of those many times when kitchen duty calls, set your little one up in their high chair, and let them play with some of their more colorful baby foods. It may seem counter-intuitive to teach baby to play with their food, but this can be such a great asset for teaching hand-eye coordination and for experimentation with texture.
Playing games with a baby looks so much different than it would with a toddler, but there’s still so much that you can do! Things such as peek-a-boo or covering up and then revealing a shaking rattle help them to learn about object permanence, while also getting a rewarding giggle or two in the process!
Any moment with your baby can be a chance to encourage their development. Laugh with your baby, play with your baby, sing and dance with your baby, and just have fun! Being responsible for another life can feel scary sometimes, but if you’re spending time with them and loving on them in the way that only you can do, they are being given the most wonderful environment and opportunity within which to thrive.