Claudia Matthews-Eve is a Community Nursery Nurse
After birth, your baby’s brain is developing at a really fast pace! Millions of connections are made every second and positive experiences will increase their ever-growing brain. Even though it may feel a little silly, there are so many things you can do to interact with your baby and be involved in their play.
Talking to your baby about your daily activities is a simple way to include them in what you’re doing. Even though your baby doesn’t understand everything you’re saying they will enjoy listening to your voice and will start to understand the words they hear regularly. For example, when you’re bathing them, you can say things such as “I’m washing your tummy, putting bubbles on your toes”. You could even tell them about what is cooking for dinner or what box set you are watching currently!
Your baby loves to look at your face. Position yourself so that they can see you: pull funny faces, blink, and mimic the sounds they make. Wait for them to respond and then it’s your turn again. This turn taking process is the basis for communication. If your baby turns away, don’t be offended, they are simply processing and may only manage short periods initially. You’ll notice as they develop that they’ll enjoy these games for longer. Try playing Peek a Boo and Pat a Cake. Your baby will soon start to initiate these games!
Allow your baby space and time, in a safe place, to move around on their tummy. When they’re very young they may only manage a minute or two but this will increase with practice. You can help by placing a rolled-up hand towel across their chest, under arms to give them a little support. Placing something interesting that they can look at will help to motivate them, like a high contrast book or picture. This position helps to develop their core strength, head and neck control and even helps develop muscles in the jaw for talking.
Your baby will love to hear you sing. Simple nursery rhymes that will involve your baby such as Tommy Thumb, This Little Piggy and Wind the Bobbin up can be lots of fun. Your baby will enjoy the positive touch and begin to anticipate the repeated actions.
Sensory toys with lights and sounds can be great, but you can also get creative and allow them to explore different objects from around the home. Treasure Baskets are great fun and can include items such as a metal spoon, wooden spatula, a large shell, or different fabrics. Babies enjoy exploring different textures, temperatures, and sounds. Make sure objects are clean and too big to be put into the mouth so there’s no risk of choking.
When you go outdoors try to place your baby in their buggy so that they can see your face. Chat to them about what you can see and watch them so you can see what catches their attention.
Shared attention activities are important for their development and books are great for this. Your baby will enjoy hearing you read to them although they may not understand the words. They’ll also enjoy looking at pictures, so sensory books and lift the flap books are ideal. Bookstart packs are available for all new babies, available from your Health Visitor or local library.
Remember, always make sure your baby is in a safe space for play and supervise them. Further information on baby play and some fantastic ideas can be found on the website Hungry Little Minds and the NSPCC also has a resource called Look Say Sing Play.