6 Ways to Encourage Your Baby’s Development in the First Three Months
The first three months of life can be overwhelming for both mom and baby – everything is new, and there is a lot happening! Your baby will be changing and growing every day. New parents are overwhelmed with information and often unsure of the best ways to engage with their baby after getting home from the hospital. Here are 6 simple things I recommend to parents to help give your baby’s development a boost during those first few months of life.
Tummy time is extremely important to help your baby reach key motor milestones, develop postural and neck muscles and to prevent a flat spot on the back of the head! Tummy time can be tricky for some little ones to tolerate, but it is really so vital for development. I always suggest that parents build tummy time into their diaper change routine. After every diaper change, just roll your baby over onto his tummy and spend a few minutes in tummy time. By the end of the day, your little one will have completed some serious tummy time! More details on how to make tummy time fun for baby in this post.
Create a secure attachment and respond to their cries
When your baby first comes home, she is learning about the world, how to communicate with it and who she can trust. By responding quickly to your little one’s cries you are teaching that the world is a safe place, which is vital for social and emotional development later in life. It is important to provide comfort when your little one cries, and to provide warmth and affection throughout the first few months of life.
Talk to your baby
You can never start talking to your little one too early! Just hearing you talk helps your infant’s brain develop the necessary synapses for language development. Your baby will start to coo back as you talk or read aloud, which will also help to create a secure bond between mom and baby. Talking to your baby also helps to foster social development. Try narrating what you are doing to your little one; for example, say “mommy is going to change your diaper and make you dry and comfy”.
Use rattles and other grasp toys
You will notice that your baby has a strong grasp almost immediately. This is because that grasp is actually a reflex, but soon those reflexes will integrate and your baby will have to learn to grasp on his own. Encourage this by providing simple, lightweight toys such as a ring rattle. Your little one won’t have a controlled grasp yet, but soon will be reaching for toys and developing that skill at the same time!
Read to your baby
Reading is not only a great activity for bonding between parents and their baby, but it can also be very soothing and help to give your baby’s brain a boost (and prepare your little one for reading later in life!). To start, pick books with simple black and white pictures (like this one) or mirrors and let your baby touch and explore the pictures!
Practice eye hand coordination and cause and effect
Babies discover that they have hands in their first two months and will start to bat at their toys soon after that. At first they will randomly move their arms and legs, but soon they learn how to control their movements and coordinate their eyes and hands together by purposefully batting at their toys! A baby gym is great to promote this skill in your little one – I love the lovevery baby gym, but any gym will work!
The first few months are such a special time for both baby and parents. Try these tips and remember that all babies are different – you’ll soon learn what your little one likes and finds comforting! Most importantly, enjoy this time with your baby – it goes by too fast!
Dr. Allie Ticktin is an occupational therapist with a specialty in sensory integration and early-childhood development. She is founder of Play 2 Progress in Los Angeles, a play-based learning center whose mission is to build skills for the journey through childhood using the power of play.