One of the wonderful things about babies is that they genuinely don’t need much. All those Mama & Me classes are actually more for the mama than the baby. Which is so reassuring in these times when it feels like everything has been cancelled. That being said, if you want to get into brain stimulation activities with your baby now that you are at home all the time, we’re here to help.
Newborns are highly stimulated by everything. The play of light through the leaves on the trees. The way your face changes when you smile. The sound of a sibling's voice from another room. The world is big and bright and everything is new. There isn’t a lot that you need to do to stimulate your baby's brain at this age!
That said, young babies like high contrast images. Black and white, block colours, simple shapes, as well as household objects to touch, explore and mouth. These are all great for stimulating curiosity and interest in the world around them.
As your baby grows and spends more time awake, activities like tummy time will be more fun. Young babies learn so much from interacting with the people and things around them. You’ll often find them more interested in a whisk over a baby toy, so don’t forget to offer safe household things for your baby to play with.
You can also start reading to young babies, looking at picture books together, and reading short stories. Although they won’t necessarily understand what you’re saying, they will start to pick up the cadence of speech, which is useful for when they do learn to talk.
So much happens during these months! Many babies learn to sit up, crawl, and sometimes walk before they are 1 year old! Keeping a 6-12 month old entertained is more about keeping up with their very short attention span. In this time when they are learning and mastering so much, it’s hard for them to keep to one thing for longer than a few minutes.
At this age, it’s important to offer your baby lots of opportunity for gross motor movement as well as stimulating their brains. Look at your home, and see what can be placed at eye level so that your baby is encouraged to reach for or see it. This can encourage them to crawl, pull up to stand, and walk.
Then, you can keep reading to your child, talking to them, letting them hang out with you while you hang and fold laundry. All of these chores are interesting to babies! One heavily favoured gifts for one-year-olds is a broom and other cleaning equipment. Toddlers love to clean!
One thing many parents misunderstand is their role in the parent-child dynamic. As a parent of a child of any age, it isn’t your role to entertain your child. It is your role to provide an environment where they are safe to explore and find safe entertainment for themselves.
For a small baby, that may only be for a few minutes at a time doing one activity, but that’s developmentally completely normal. The older the child gets, the longer their attention span grows to allow them to focus on their own self-directed play for longer.
1. 7 Ways to Help Your Child's Brain Develop: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/5-free-ways-to-improve-your-childs-brain#Go-big-or-little
2. 20 Ways to Boost Your Baby's Brain Power: https://www.scholastic.com/parents/family-life/creativity-and-critical-thinking/learning-skills-for-kids/20-ways-to-boost-your-babys-brain-power.html
3. 29 Surprising ways you can give your baby's brain a major boost: https://www.parent24.com/Baby/Development/29-surprising-ways-you-can-give-your-babys-brain-a-major-boost-20180315