by Julie Ashton-Townsend
Being a new parent is the most joyous, rewarding and challenging journeys in life. It is also a great responsibility. You hold the future of this tiny person entirely in your hands. What they become depends largely on you! Raise them with patience, love and understanding and they will be patient loving and understanding adults. Stimulate their brains at every opportunity and they will find learning easy and fun throughout their lives. Do the things suggested here, FROM DAY ONE and get into the habit and routine of doing them daily and often during the day.
Remember the more you baby uses her brain the more connections are made and the easier it is to learn. The basic ideas here are true for all ages of children.
Forget pastel colours for your baby’s bedroom. These are to satisfy the tastes of parents not your baby! Babies need bright, bold contrasting colours to attract their attention and to stimulate their growing brains so design a colourful nursery with big bold, eye catching shapes and patterns. The youngest baby enjoys looking at shapes and patterns and will learn form them.
Babies like to gaze at black and white patterns. You can make your own black and white posters and mobiles from the ones given free with this book. Make a simple mobile and change the images often.
Newborns love looking at these so put them in places where your baby can see them when you are changing his nappy or when he wakes up. I changed my babies in the same place in their bedroom. I put black and white images and faces on the walls. I hung a mobile from the ceiling which my children could reach. I changed the toy hanging on the end, which they could reach regularly.
Make some into a black and white picture book and ‘read’ it with your newborn often. When older you baby can colour in the spaces and trace around the shapes.
Studies on babies show that they like looking at the human face and in particular their mother's face. They respond to human faces by staring at them. They prefer faces to anything else. Even a new born baby will stare intently at its mother and mimic the mouth movements she makes. Cut large faces out of magazines and put them where you baby can see them. Especially near the changing area. This will give them something to look at every time they are changed. It stops boredom and a cranky baby too by keeping them interested and entertained.
Put an alphabet and number chart or frieze on the wall in your baby’s bedroom. Put pictures and posters on the wall and change them often so your baby doesn’t become used to them. I used sheets of wrapping paper which comes in every colour and patterns you can imagine. It is readily available at a reasonable cost. Show even the youngest babies the pictures and posters and talk about them every day.
Put a music centre in your baby’s room and play nursery rhymes and stories as much as possible. I played music to my children everyday even before they were born. Play and sing along to nursery rhymes and stories every day. My children went to sleep every night to music or a story tape. My nine-year-old still does. Your baby will soon become familiar with the sounds, words and speech patterns of the human voice.
Sing to, talk to and rock your baby every day. This is one of the most important things you can do to help your baby achieve in life generally. You are communicating love and attention and stimulating your baby’s brain. Rocking is important for developing a sense of rhythm which researchers have shown improves language skills.
Join the library and have a look at all the amazing books available. Start your own mini library by buying a nursery rhyme book and a story book. Add to the collection as often as you can. Read to your baby every day, from day one.
Give your baby something to focus on and reach out for from day one. Toys which stand up and are stable enough to be placed close to your baby’s field of vision are best. Have a good look around toy stores or go to the 7-step learning store.com for ideas. Babies soon learn to grip toys. The more they practise this, the better for brain development.
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