Just like how your muscles will not develop if you do not exercise, your baby's brain will not develop to its fullest if you don't help her 'exercise' her mind.
Stimulus for your baby can be positive or negative. Positive stimuli build the brain and enhance learning whereas negative stimuli could be damaging. Negative stimulus can mean exposure to violence, stressful events and neglect. So start by providing a warm and loving environment for your baby.
Learn 10 Ways to Bolster Your Baby's Brain Power:
Love and affection are very real needs to your baby, especially in the early weeks and months. Your baby is not trying to manipulate or control you; she simply has a biological need for your love. You cannot 'spoil' a baby by responding to her cries.
Consistent response to her cries will build trust and create a strong self-esteem. She will be assured that her needs are met and not get stressed, while learning about love and forming human relationships. If a baby is denied attention in the early weeks and months, she may grow up introverted and withdrawn.
Things to do: Always respond to your baby's cries by soothing her with your touch and your voice instead of leaving her to cry on her own.
Talk to your baby, not with senseless gibberish but speak properly in a kind and gentle voice. Mum's voice is her favourite sound and she's been hearing it since she was a 5-month old foetus.
Things to do: Use the language you are most proficient in and use a wide range of vocabulary. Never underestimate the learning abilities of a young baby. Your baby will also enjoy communicating with you when you exaggerate your expressions.
Touch is a powerful stimulant and learning tool. It also has a remarkable calming effect on babies. It was reported that premature babies who were massaged grew faster, were less fretful and were discharged from hospital much faster than those who were not.
Things to do: Hold her close during feeding and cuddle her often. After your baby's bath, give her a gentle massage all over her body, singing and talking to her while you are at it. You will enjoy this special moment with her.
Your baby is interested in looking at your face. Even as a newborn, she is constantly analysing your face. She may imitate facial expressions such as smiles and frowns.
Things to do: Encourage your baby to imitate you. Hold your face about 8 inches away and make faces such as sticking out your tongue. Before you know it, your new born will stick out her tongue at you too!
The more diverse the experience you offer your baby, the more stimulated mentally she will be. Let your baby experience lots of different surroundings.
Things to do: Go out for walks and take her to different places like the supermarket, playgrounds and malls. Expose her to different sights and sounds.
Things to avoid: Put your baby in front of the television hours on end; this does not stimulate her. She needs real experiences and not virtual ones!
Provide a safe environment for your baby to explore, such as the living room floor. She will need lots of space to discover things on her own.
Things to do: Place dangerous objects out of reach, cap all electrical outlets and pad sharp corners on furniture. Provide lots of safe and appropriate toys.
Start reading to your baby right from young. She may not be able to follow the story but she will enjoy listening to your voice and looking at pictures.
Things to do: Use interactive books with pop-up pictures or those that allows tactile stimulation, example different textures within books for your baby to touch.
Singing and playing music to your baby even before birth has shown to be beneficial to a baby's brain development. Generally, music that has a constant rhythm is best. Mozart's music has been found to stimulate the same neurons that are later used for mathematics.
Things to do: Make up tunes and silly or funny songs as a great way of having fun with your baby. Use a musical box or recorded music to create a quiet mood for feedings, and an upbeat one for playtime.
'Play is fun, play is work' - that's how your baby can learn while enjoying herself! When you play with your baby, you are helping her develop more than you realise.
Things to do: Use high contrast graphics (e.g. flashcards) that help to increase your baby's concentration skills and attention span. Explain the colours or pictures to her as she studies them.
Finger play with your baby right from the start to help her develop the ability to 'ignore' her reflexive 'palmar grasp’ (the ability to fold fingers over palm of hand to hold objects well with hand). Your baby can only learn how to use her hands and fingers if she learns to 'let go'. By playing finger games, she is learning language and fine motor skills.
Gently guide your baby's arm to 'bat-a-mobile'. Alternate the use of each arm. Smile and describe to your baby how the mobile is moving. Praise her for making the mobile move. This game teaches her about 'cause and effect' as well as trains her visual tracking skills.
Shower your baby with positive encouragement for every correct response she gives. Build her self-esteem by allowing her to explore and learn.
Things to do: Encourage her to overcome new challenges by constantly telling her that she can do it. Pay attention to her efforts and give her credit for her achievements.
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