Positive interaction is a crucial factor in the proper mental and emotional development of a baby. Visual, vocal, and tactile stimulation are all valuable aids to learning. Talk to your baby while you change his diaper. Read to him from the time of birth. Even though he cannot understand what you are saying, the sounds of the words will become familiar to him, and it will not be long before he is comprehending some of them.
Set aside some time each day to simply play with your baby. He should be wide awake, happy, and well fed. Sing to your baby or recite nursery rhymes to help him gain an awareness of language. You can involve him in clapping and other hand movements to keep him entertained. Some suggestions are “Pat-a-Cake,” “This Little Piggy Went to Market,” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Following are some suggested activities to do with your baby.
Bath time provides a good opportunity for playful interaction. During bath time, you can help your baby learn the names of his various body parts by saying them as you wash them. You can borrow the tune from a song such as “Here We Go ’Round the Mulberry Bush” and substitute verses such as “This is the way we wash your face.” As your baby gets older, he will enjoy splashing and playing with bathtub toys.
You should select toys for your child according to his age and abilities. Toys that are too advanced for him will not only frustrate him, but may also hurt him. For a child under 1 year of age, toys should be large, simple, brightly colored or black and white, and lightweight. In addition, they should not have any small parts that the baby could remove. Household items such as plastic cups and bowls, wooden spoons, and pots and pans are fascinating to little ones. Other good choices are squeak toys with noisemakers molded in; sturdy, nonflammable rattles; washable dolls and stuffed animals with embroidered features; and teethers and other smooth items that can be chewed. Additional toys that you might want to purchase include the following:
For a baby under 2 months old
- A mobile that looks interesting from underneath, which is where the baby will be. Remove the mobile from the crib when the baby is able to pull it down.
- Pictures or decals to decorate the walls of his room.
For a baby 2 to 4 months old
- A stainless steel mirror that can be placed about 6 inches from the baby’s eyes.
- A cradle gym.
For a baby 4 to 6 months old
For a baby 6 to 8 months old
- A box filled with simple objects that the baby can take out and put back.
- Stacking and nesting toys.
For a baby 8 to 12 months old
- An activity box for the bathtub.
- Bath toys that pour or float.
- A box of interesting objects that are too large to be swallowed.
Remember that a young baby does not need elaborate toys. Although toys can be useful in helping a baby to learn about his world, no toy is as fascinating to a child as his mother’s face and voice. The time that you spend playing with your baby is more beneficial than any toy could ever be. Do not be swayed by advertising claims for expensive or complicated baby toys.