Ways to help your baby’s development

Our health visitor talks you though how to encourage your baby’s development in her first year

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Help your baby to communicate

  • Keep an eye out for the efforts she makes to get your attention, such as blinking and making hand movements.
  • Watch how she begins to learn turn-taking in conversation, as she observes you talking to other people.
  • Caress, cuddle, kiss, stroke and massage her so she feels loved and secure.
  • Spend time having skin-to-skin contact, at any time of day, to calm and relax you both.
  • Talk, talk, talk! As you go about your daily routine with her, say things out loud like “You look hungry” or “It’s time for your nap now”.
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Encourage your baby to listen

  • Shhh. Turn off the phone and TV for at least an hour a day to help your baby listen and focus on your voice.
  • Play face to face. This lets him watch expressions and copy what you do.
  • Take turns making sounds. Babies love repetition; it helps learning and also encourages the art of turn-taking in conversation.
  • Let him choose. During quiet time, let your baby pick the toys and books he wants and follow his lead.
  • Communicate. Always tell your baby what you’ve planned, be it a nappy change, meal or sleep time. In time it’ll help him decode speech and motivate communication.

Make crawling safe for your baby

  • Fit safety gates to stairs to stop little ones climbing up and falling down.
  • Keep low furniture away from windows and fit your windows with locks to make sure your baby can’t climb out.
  • Secure kitchen cupboards with safety catches to avoid tots getting into them, especially where household bleaches, detergents and alcohol are stored.
  • Place guards around gas, electric and open fireplaces so your baby can’t burn himself.
  • Make sure electric flexes are out of reach so babies can’t pull appliances on to themselves, and fit socket covers to keep inquisitive fingers out.
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Help develop your baby’s speech

  • Use gestures when you speak such as waving when you say goodbye, as this helps explain meaning.
  • Chat to your baby about your day telling him when it’s time for lunch or a nap so he can put activities to words.
  • Make eye contact when he babbles and smile to give him confidence.
  • Sing nursery rhymes and play a variety of styles of music as rhythm and repetition are the basis of language.
  • Build silence into your day as a baby needs time to process all he’s learned.

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