Raising a child in today’s fast world can be daunting. There’s always an immense pressure on children, and by extension on you as a parent to do so much more. The competition begins at such an early age, along with more and more confusion as to how much your child should be expected to do! Toys abound the promise to make your child smarter and flashcards for babies are commonplace. But do these gimmicks really work? Just how much can a baby, less than a year old, learn beyond the basics like sitting up, chewing, and in some cases, walking?
Development of a baby’s sensory pathways
- At birth, your little one can barely see, hear or feel.
- These sensory pathways grow and develop based on stimulation.
- The sensory pathways grow when appropriate visual, auditory and tactile stimulation is exposed to your baby with proper frequency, intensity and duration.
- For example, a newborn baby usually has a less-than-perfect light reflex. On being exposed to light, reflex is seen when the pupil constricts. The sooner this reflex matures and becomes consistent, the quicker that baby will develop the ability to see outlines and then detail. This is purposeful stimulation rather than accidental stimulation.
- A full sensory stimulation program at the newborn level or in the first few months of life is very brief when it comes to all five sensory pathways (seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling).
- These brief stimulations help each pathway mature. As these pathways grow and become more mature, they are more useful for the baby.
- Parents learn how to evaluate these pathways, so they can easily determine what their baby needs next and what they no longer need.
Your baby’s brain development
- The brain grows explosively between conception and the age six, thought it remains largely a mystery as to why the brain grows by use.
- If you provide your little one with visual, auditory and tactile stimulation with increased frequency, intensity and duration; enhanced mobility (movement of motor skills) and language (speech), they will develop more rapidly in all areas.
- This is bound to increase their overall understanding of the world around and greatly increase their interaction with the family.
- Your baby’s health, happiness, and general well-being are also significantly improved by stimulation and opportunity.
When you grow one area of the brain, all areas will be enhanced to a certain degree. If a baby is given the opportunity to move on the floor, their mobility is improved. But when they are given the chance to move more often, the respiration also improves. As your child can breathe better, they make more sounds. The more sounds they make, the more you will respond to these sounds. The more you and your little one talk to each other, the sooner you can understand what they are saying and communicate with your baby!
The growth of verbal abilities
- According to research, babies begin clearly articulating their first words between 8 and 20 months because they have been absorbing and retaining the sounds of a language and associating meanings to those sounds.
- Their brains are programmed to imprint and later recall every sound and every word pattern. This can be achieved with language immersion action games, structured games, visual aid games, props and vocabulary-rich songs. This provides them with a lifelong gift - a love of learning and communication.
- Although their babbling sounds insensible to us, it is a sign that your little one is beginning to talk. Your baby is trying to convey meaning and attempting to repeat what adults around them are saying.
Language stimulation - Dos and Don’ts
- Listen to the baby, always.
- Look at your baby like you are listening.
- Be willing to wait for their response.
- Accept that they decide whether to respond or not; it’s your child’s choice.
- Enthusiastically welcome every effort they make to talk.
- Assign meanings to the specific sounds they make repeatedly.
- Use real words while talking to your baby.
- ‘Baby talk’ with the baby.
- Ignore them.
- Ask a question and leave no time for them to answer.
- Neglect to answer them.
- Imitate or make fun of the sounds they make.
- Correct their pronunciation.
- Try to force your baby to answer or respond.