Bonding and Security
Provide a secure, loving, responsive relationship with your baby! Setup sleep, eating and bath routines so baby knows what to expect. Mimic womb conditions during first few weeks (low sound, low light, warm). Brain’s first priority is SECURITY & SURVIVAL, so create a calm, supportive, loving environment.
A newborn’s movements are driven by reflexes (suck reflex for nursing or Moro startle reflex, for instance). These automatic reflexes begin the process of learning as they are tied to our sensory processing. We gather information about the world through our senses (eyes, ears, nose, taste, touch plus balance (vestibular) and proprioception (receptors around muscles)). Everything a baby comes in contact with brings sensory information to be catalogued: movement, coordination, body awareness and balance, a multi-sensory world!
Primitive reflexes may still be active (for instance, head movement is tied to automatic
arm and leg movements until the reflex matures and is released by the higher brain). Moro reflex inhibited; startle response replaces Moro.
BABY MASSAGE: stimulates the skin, our largest sensory organ. Babies learn initially through sensory stimulation with the mouth and skin. Babies will find and recognize their hands and feet but most important to them is the sound of their mom’s and dad’s voice and seeing their faces.
FACE TO FACE: deliberately spend ‘face to face time’ (within 10-12 inches of baby’s face) and speak with exaggerated expressions and mouth movements. Speak in parentese (matches infant’s hearing ranges). Try to stimulate and maintain infant’s eye contact. Throughout the day, point out objects to baby and label them (actually promotes language development later on). Engage baby and move fun object across midline of body to stimulate tracking across midline (from left to middle and then right).
TUMMY TYME: by 3 to 4 months should be able to support chest with forearms when laid on tummy and reach for objects. At 3 months movement should be symmetrical (balanced on both sides); head should not lag when pulled up to sit (support head if it is lagging); reaches for toys with both hands; grasps toys with full open hands; smiles and gurgles; and very interested in faces. By 4 months, attempts to roll over using the hips (matures later with attempts made from the shoulder); great imitator of facial expressions; focuses and follows nearby moving objects; and begins to pull self forward on tummy
READING: read books aloud every day. Before 4 months, baby will enjoy the sounds of your voice and the private time together. At 4 months of age, lap reading can begin. By 6 to 7 months, baby’s full range of vision should be intact and cloth or plastic books can become a favorite object. Establish a ritual of reading. By 6 months, permanent neural (brain) networks are created that recognize subtle sounds and rhythmic patterns of their native language. Being read to helps ‘tune’ neuron bundles in the growing brain which will help in learning to speak and later to read by themselves.
Seattle study found that a mother’s expectations affect the mental growth and development of their babies – found mother’s treated their babies according to their expectations. Mothers that knew more about baby’s abilities were more emotionally and verbally responsive to their babies. Therefore, a parent’s knowledge about child development does make a difference, and babies are truly alert little learning machines!
Humans are quite unique. We’re born with only our survival mechanisms intact (breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and such). We must learn everything else beyond survival:
(1) our brain must find our body (infants slowly discover their fingers and toes – and that they actually MOVE!).
Our brain must learn ‘where’ to find and create all the connections that operate our different body parts. This process of learning will also be used later for academics and higher learning.
(2) We learn about the outside world / what it means to us through our senses.