Pregnancy provides the greenhouse for the formation of 100 billion brain cells. These brain cells are largely unconnected at birth. What can you do to stimulate your newborn to encourage cognitive growth?
Your newborn is born with every brain cell she will ever have for life and yet is so immature! To master her world, she needs to form connections between brain cells. Those connections begin to develop from the last few weeks in utero. From birth to 18 months, connections occur at a rate of 1 million per second!
The way to enhance your baby’s development is to stimulate your baby. In the newborn days, less is more and for most babies, just being alive is as much stimulation as is needed. However, here are the top 5 activities you should do with your newborn:
- Place your baby under a mobile – Watching a black, white and red (or other contrasting colours) mobile develops visual focus. Your newborn can see 20cm at birth and needs to develop her intraocular muscles for 20/20 vision.
- Tummy time is vital – Place your baby on her tummy for at least 5 minutes at a stretch every time she is awake. She will have to strengthen her neck muscles to lift her head and look around her. This is an essential precursor to rolling and crawling as it develops her extensor muscle tone.
- Talk, talk, talk – Speak to your baby a lot – when she feeds or has her nappy changed or is playing between sleeps. Hearing language in the context of a relationship exponentially enhances language development AND intelligence.
- Baby Massage is a wonderful activity for many reasons -It enhances your baby’s sense of her body, which is linked to motor planning and intelligence. Massage is calming for unsettled little ones. Baby massage improves bonding and connection between parent and baby. It also enhances sleep. So for many reasons, set aside 10 minutes after your baby’s morning nap for a baby massage.
Finally and most importantly, you are your baby’s best and favourite toy! Touch, laugh, talk, and make eye contact! Engage with your baby – it’s the best you can do!