Baby stimulation classes and groups range from music to movement to messy play and more. They are typically group activities that take place at a regular time and venue. And often designed to encourage bonding and your baby’s development. In this article, we take a look at why stimulation is important and how we can sensibly encourage our little one’s development.
Every well-meaning parent wants to do the best for their baby. We focus heavily on our baby’s milestones and create expectations for ourselves to have the best, brightest baby on the block.
The truth is that stimulation is important. The reason why we are so fixated on stimulating our babies is because there is overwhelming evidence that an enriched environment is linked to enhanced brain development. In other words, babies who are stimulated are more likely to develop to their potential.
With that in mind, you will probably want to know how best to stimulate your baby? There are a variety of ways to stimulate your baby’s cognitive and motor development including buying or making specific toys, engaging in play activities and ensuring all the senses are stimulated. The guiding principle is that you can enhance your baby’s development by providing opportunities for constructive, age-appropriate play. Take care not to over stimulate your little one but regular, 15 – 20 minute intervals are a great start.
Baby Stimulation Programs
Another option are stimulation groups or programs. These groups are a wonderful way to stimulate babies for a number of reasons:
Interaction with other moms
We cannot underestimate how isolating having a new baby can be. In the early months particularly, we can feel very alone and adrift. Baby groups provide a structured forum to meet other moms. Many great friendships are struck up over tea at these groups. Furthermore, just when you feel you are the only mom on earth who hasn’t slept in a week or wants to calmly put your baby up for adoption, you will find a tribe of moms experiencing the same.
Ideas for stimulation
You might think that an hour or two a week of stimulation classes can’t do much to enhance development. Nothing is further from the truth. Not only will your baby benefit from the stimulation but more than that, you will come away with some wonderful ideas for stimulation at home.
One on one time with your baby
In our busy lives often the only face time we have with our babies is on the changing mat or pushing a trolley around the shops. Baby stimulation classes force us to slow down and spend time with our babies. These precious moments help us bond and also enhance our baby’s emotional development.
Of course the most obvious reason for going to baby stimulation classes is to enhance development. Most franchises have programs specially developed by OT’s, physiotherapists or education specialists. These people know and understand development and how to enhance all areas. Stimulation classes benefit the sensory development of your baby as well as the movement milestones, language, perception and emotional development.
How to choose which class to attend
There are a wide variety of companies and franchises offering stimulation programs. Use these guidelines to help you choose the right one:
- Choose a class close to your home. There is no point in spending an hour in the car for an hour class.
- Try to choose classes that fit in with your baby’s sleep schedule. Choose a class that falls in your baby’s awake time. A tired baby will not benefit from all the activities and will become irritable during the class.
- Make sure your baby is in a class with others in their age range. Don’t be tempted to compare developmental milestones with older children. It only puts pressure on you and your baby.
- Match the activities and group leader to your baby. Don’t be shy to shop around until you find a group that you both enjoy and are happy with.
- Don’t be tempted to over schedule your baby. Attending too many classes is stressful on your time and budget and is not great for your baby either. For babies under a year, just choose one form of stimulation class. After a year of age, up to two programs, such as one swimming, and one stimulation is enough.
Stimulation classes are a wonderful way to interact with your baby and enhance development. But always remember that the most important principle is for you and your baby to have fun and to enjoy the interaction with other moms.