Copyright (c) 2007 Liddle Kidz Infant and Children’s Pediatric Massage
Many parents want to find ways to help stimulate their baby and what better way than through play time together. For babies, playing stimulates their senses, and helps them to learn. Playing with your baby, also known as infant stimulation, can include activities that stimulate your baby’s senses.
From birth through the first few months, babies thrive on infant stimulation. Visual stimulation, tactile stimulation and auditory stimulation can play big roles in your interactive time together. Infant stimulation can also help improve your baby’s curiosity, attention span, memory, and nervous system development. In addition, many babies who receive appropriate stimulation reach developmental milestones faster and have better muscle coordination.
Babies love repetition and will begin to mimic facial gestures we make. When you place your face directly in front of baby’s this can provide visual stimulation, entertainment and socialization skills for your little one. Couple this visual interaction with sounds, and you also trigger important auditory stimulation. Try singing, humming or even telling a little story. You can say something you are familiar or make something up as you go. Your baby won’t even mind if the words don’t make sense, as long as you continue to speak, or sing, in a loving tone your baby will listen intently.
Touch can be one of the most important and best ways to stimulate your little one. It provides contact, reassurance and relaxation. The important sense of touch can be stimulated through play and close contact. By playing with baby’s hands and fingers you can stimulate your baby’s tactile senses. Also when you allow your baby to grasp your fingers, you continue this interaction and help to engage baby in this tactile learning process.
You may also continue this interactive play by using gentle movements to stimulate many senses at one time. First try laying your baby down on a soft blanket, and while singing, help your little one to gently cross arms and then open them. Next try this with the legs and continue singing or humming to stimulate both auditory and tactile senses at the same time. You can create visual stimulation by being expressive with your face, and making eye contact, while you engage in this playtime activity.
Consider also the confinement of being in a diaper most of the time. To help improve baby’s tactile input, you may try some activities that allow you to spend time together and don’t require baby to wear their diaper. Infant Massage may be one of these important activities. During massage time, your baby is free to explore without their diaper and you provide stimulation through touch, sight, sound and smell. By warming oil in your hands your baby begins to listen to the swishing sounds, see your hands moving, smell your scent and any the oil may have, and learn what is happening next.
Begin massage when you are calm and relaxed. Start first by asking baby’s permission to touch. Then rest your warmed hands on baby’s legs and feet. Begin with gentle stroking down baby’s legs to their little feet, then hug each toe with your fingers and kiss the bottom of the feet. All the time making eye contact and speaking lovingly to your baby. If your baby is enjoying this time together continue on by stroking down the chest and over the tummy. If you want to focus a little more time on baby’s tummy, you can massage using your flat, warmed hand moving in a clockwise circle. Then move on to the arms. Again on the arms, stroke down the arm towards the hands, hug each finger and kiss the palms. Then while hugging your little one you can stroke their back.
Together you will learn what activities you both enjoy and how best to stimulate your ever growing and developing baby!