Babies experience the world very differently from adults. Some of their senses are sharper, while some don't develop fully until later. This means that something that's interesting and stimulating for an adult might be boring or overwhelming for a baby.
Here's how to stimulate your baby's senses in age-appropriate ways:
- Decorate the nursery with colorful, bold patterns. Babies' vision doesn't fully develop until they're about eight to 12 months old, and they're most able to make out images with high contrast until then. Decorating the nursery with clear, well-defined images can help your baby get used to identifying objects by sight.
- Play hand games. Clapping games like pat-a-cake help your baby develop hand-eye coordination and depth perception. You can start playing these games as soon as your baby can sit up on their own.
- Use "baby talk." Studies have shown that the sing-song, fluctuating tones mothers use to talk to their babies are important for language development. They help your baby get used to the extremes of the different sounds that are possible in your language. Babies usually start imitating specific sounds their parents make in their babbling by around six months.
- Hold your baby as much as possible. Constant contact is important for your baby's developing sense of touch, and triggers the production of soothing bonding hormones while you're at it. Gently massaging your baby with lotion after a bath is a good way to get them focusing on their sense of touch.
- Don't use strongly scented products while breastfeeding. Babies have a fully developed sense of smell right away, and strange smells can discourage them from learning to breastfeed properly.
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