Keep your newborn busy
Changed and fed, now what? Try these ways to interact with a small baby.
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Provide different textures such as fluffy, smooth, shiny, silky, coarse, hard, soft, wet and dry – for the baby to play on. Wrap him in different fabrics. (Just keep in mind that his skin is still very delicate, and new textures should be introduced gradually and with great care.)

Introduce different movements by laying him down on a blanket or towel. Holding the four corners, the parents can then rock him gently in different directions. Or, holding him in your arms, you can rock him, turn him around or move him up and down. Begin by holding him snugly against your body and moving slowly.

Hang different objects above the baby’s cot where he can look at them. They can be cheap household items that can be alternated daily may be a better option. You can, for instance, alternate different spoons, plastic cups in different sizes and colours, shiny foil dishes that will cause an interesting noise when touched, and paper balls. A normal household yields endless possibilities – just use your imagination.

Language is important. Parents should often talk to, and near, their baby.

Once he can hold small objects in his hands, he will further investigate them by putting them in his mouth, which has many nerve endings that enable him to observe the objects very closely. Provide clean objects that will not hurt your baby, rather than trying to keep them out of his mouth. These may be toys or household items like teaspoons, plastic containers, plastic cups or mugs, scarves, small bottles and clothes with different textures. They should be washed regularly before being given to the baby to investigate. Don’t leave your baby unattended with an object in his hand.

Fabric or plastic books are handy for this development stage, as the baby can hold and investigate them by himself without tearing them or choking on paper that has become pulp in his mouth. Introduce your baby to paper books by turning the pages for him and talking about the pictures – he will soon start making noises in an attempt to ‘join in the conversation’.

Lay him down on his back or stomach at waking times. Lay your baby down on different textures and put toys around him, encouraging him to reach out, roll over and start moving. The toys should differ in colour, shape, size and texture and some should make a noise when moved, rolled or pressed.

Encourage kicking movements
by holding an object near the baby’s feet that will make a noise when he kicks against it. Babies like kicking in the bath, and when a baby is held to stand on his feet on your lap, the normal reflex will cause treading movements that will strengthen the legs and condition the feet to carry his weight.

This is an extract from BabyGym (Metz Press), available from at R129.95. We are giving away 5 copies of this intriguing book. 


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