Stimulate her sense of touch, sound, and sight. Gently shake a variety of little rattles so she hears different things. Place her on her mat and scrunch up pieces of paper for new sounds. Take a make-up brush or feather and stroke her arms, legs and face.
How does she respond? Even though babies are fascinated by sounds and voices because they heard them in the womb, they’re not able to locate where the sound has come from, so another thing you can do is to shake a rattle or make a noisy toy move from left to right in front of your baby so that she can start to establish where the noise is coming from.
Once she recognises sounds in front of her, make the sound on the side and see if she turns her head. As a newborn, her vision is blurry, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t give her objects within a close range to look at. Put objects by the bouncer seat, as well as a mobile overhead. You’ll know when she’s starting to focus because she’ll aim towards something with a hand.
Talk it up
Stimulate your child with lots of talk. Baby talk is fine, but intersperse it with adult words too so you challenge her language development. Babies who are spoken to are more assertive and learn language faster. I always tell parents to be animated, because babies absolutely love it.
For some parents, it’s really difficult to start talking. There you are staring at your baby, thinking, ‘What am I going to say?’
Just say what you see – ‘You’ve got lovely big eyes. Oh, and what a teeny little chin.’ You can say almost anything, as long as it’s not a rant about your terrible day.
Another easy way to start is to pick up your baby and show her her reflection in a mirror – ‘Who’s this, who’s this?’ For now she won’t know, but the time will come when she coos and smiles and really shows interest in what you’re saying. Remember, the more opportunities you give her to practise these skills, the sooner they develop.
Babies can raise their heads when they’re on their stomachs more easily at first than when they’re on their backs. But her neck muscles must be strong enough before you do this or she’ll just end up face down on the mat.
Partly why I’m against holding babies all day is that it’s good for them to be lying down on the floor with you beside them, on their backs at first, tickling and touching them, so they see you and interact with you while having their own space. Get down on the floor and put props in front of your child’s face to stimulate her visual ability. Hold objects about 20-40 cm away so she can see them well. Help your baby gain eye-hand coordination by moving objects in front of or above her that she can bat at.
Change of scenery
Take your baby with you from room to room and out and about. She’ll love the stimulation of new sights, sounds and smells. Introduce her to other children and adults, one at a time if you have a shy, sensitive child. Believe it or not, even babies this young get bored!
Baby activity classes are lovely because they offer a wider sort of human interaction. Parents ask me when’s a good time to start and I say it’s entirely up to you. Just going out for the afternoon for a walk to the park is an ideal way to boost both your moods and see some new places and hopefully bump into other mums.
Check out our Neighbourhood section to find local baby classes near you.