Brain Builders – An Introduction
As many new moms can attest, your goal in life is suddenly to provide your baby with the best experiences possible, from care to love to learning. And one of the most important things you can do, even from the first months of life, is to begin stimulating your baby’s brain. Through a series of articles, parenting will provide you with activities targeted by age for each month of a baby’s life up to age 3. Read this introduction to find out what you need to know to get started, and then choose the appropriate article for your baby’s age.
Workouts for the Mind
By stimulating your baby, you’ll be aiding in the “making” of your child’s mind. Our brains are much like other parts of our bodies, and if we want them to grow strong and function at their optimal capacities, we must stimulate them through exercise. For our muscles, we lift weights, but for babies’ minds, the exercise that helps brain cells grow and establish strong and stable connections is the experience of life. If the connections are used consistently, they will continue to grow stronger and more stable, thus, providing a solid foundation for your baby’s future learning.
There are many such exercises that you can do that are easy to incorporate into your daily life with your baby. We will provide you with developmental activities appropriate for Baby at each month of life through a series of articles. One of the best ways to exercise your baby’s mind is through play. Make learning fun, both for you and your baby, and eventually, through repetition, you will begin to see results.
Babies are constantly growing and developing both physically and mentally, so they naturally tire easily. Therefore, it is important to learn your baby’s specific signs of over-stimulation and respond to them. If your baby becomes upset, stop performing the exercise. The time you spend doing the exercises will depend on your baby; however, it is best to start slowly (five to 10 minutes) every day and gradually extend the length of the period. Signs of over-stimulation include wide eyes, crying, squirming with arms and legs flailing, wrinkling of the brow, thrusting of the tongue, splaying fingers and toes, lifting the legs and looking away from you or looking uncomfortable. If you notice any of these behaviors, give Baby a little break.
You also don’t want to perform every exercise in one session. Every few days, add a new exercise, and you’ll be finishing the entire program in no time. There is no specific best time whenever your baby is calm, relaxed, comfortable and alert. This is when he will be paying attention and benefit the most. Notice your baby’s fingers and toes because whenever you notice him lightly fanning and stretching them toward you, he is telling you that he is attentive and saying, “I enjoy what you are doing.”
To start, all you’ll need is your baby’s receiving blanket and some music. I always recommend using music because it engages both you and your child and helps communicate coordination and rhythm. With an infant, you will be doing most of the work and feel as if your baby might not be getting anything from the exercise, while in actuality, his muscles are being used and, thus, worked. Later on, you will notice that your baby responds by working with or against your movements.
Then choose the article addressing activities for infants your child’s age. Remember to enjoy yourself because your baby takes his cues from your reactions and feelings, so if you’re having fun, so will your baby. Always keep in mind that the goal of such activities is to stimulate and be sensitive to your baby to increase his alertness and grow happily and healthily.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when doing activities with your baby:
· Love is the foundation.
· Both nature and nurture shape your child’s intellect.
· Each baby is a unique individual.
· Babies are born with their schedules, and things rarely adhere according to our plan.
· Make each exercise your own.
· Active, whole-body learning always beats memorization and passive learning.
· You are the carpenter who builds the foundation for your child’s future learning and intellect.
· No one is perfect.
· Make learning fun; incorporate play into the learning process, and your baby will learn as you play!