After months of backache and fretting, your new arrival is here, and now you find yourself faced with a whole new array of worries. There are all these myths about how you can raise a genius from the day they are born, which you are best ignoring. But how do you give this tiny bundle the best possible start?
Face to face
Something as simple as walking with your baby facing you as you push them in their stroller can have all kinds of benefits. Babies begin to recognise faces very early on, and so the more time they spend looking at yours, the easier they build their memory of you.
Newborn babies can pick up and even learn to imitate facial cues very early on. So don’t get self-conscious, feel free to make silly expressions, stick out your tongue, and really stretch your facial muscles.
Babies appreciate a good view
Wakeful newborns long to be held and carried, not only because the natural rhythm of your movement is soothing to them, but because it provides them with the ideal vantage point to get a better look at the world around them. Slings and strap-on baby carriers give the baby all the comfort and support they need, while enabling you to carry on with your day. You can also occasionally turn your baby so they are facing outward, where they can take everything in. Of course, that isn’t always practical. But even when you’re busy, you can ensure your baby still has things to look at by moving their crib around the house.
Babies are social!
Situating your baby’s crib or bouncy seat in the kitchen or living room, at the centre of the household, is best. That way, family members can interact with the baby as much as possible – adult company and interaction is more engaging to your baby than anything else. Talk to your baby as much as you can, and encourage everyone else to talk, cuddle and play with them too.
When a baby looks at a grown-up lying on the floor, what they see is an assault course. Letting your baby climb all over you, or setting up miniature obstacle courses with cushions and pillows, works wonders on your baby’s co-ordination and spatial awareness as they are learning to crawl.
Stimulate their senses
Newborns respond best to high contrast patterns, so invest in plenty of brightly coloured toys, picture books and mobiles. Black and white patterns often catch newborns’ attention, as the contrast is easiest to spot. Babies are also fascinated by their own reflections; if you place a baby-proof mirror next to his or her cot, they will get a kick out of watching themselves, even if they don’t yet recognise that it is them.
A lot of the time, newborns can get overstimulated if you try to fuel more than one sense at a time. Try focusing on just one sense during your play time; sing and talk to them for sound, or introduce a number of toys with different textures to help them explore touch.
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