So what is it and why is it important?
Definition: activities that arouse or stimulate your baby’s sense of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.
Infant stimulation can help improve your baby’s attention span, memory, curiosity, and nervous system development. In addition, stimulating your baby’s senses will enable him to reach developmental milestones faster, as well as aid in the development of motor skills.
Here are some things to keep in mind before embarking on the road to teaching your baby:
Interaction is better than observation. Medical practitioners advocate parental interaction with children, as do we – the best way for your child to learn is not to leave him in the playpen; it’s to hold him and play with him! Instead of leaving your child in the crib with his toys, you can make his toys come alive for him – give it a voice and make it move. Your child will develop his capability for imagination as he takes his cues from your experiences playing with him.
Aim for repetition, not habituation. “Again, again!” There’s a reason children drive us crazy with their requests to do or hear the same thing over and over: children learn best through repetition. With very young children, repetition is important because that’s the way they learn best. Hearing something many times helps your child remember information for increasing periods of time. Young children (4 to 18 months) particularly need repetition — more so than a 2 1/2-year-old, say — to learn and remember new information.
Once your child has learned something, he’ll enjoy the repetitive process because he can anticipate what comes next. After many readings of a familiar book, your child may even remember it well enough to add the endings to most of the sentences. This accomplishment means that she can participate more actively in story time. However, it is also important to stop the repetitive stimulation when your child begins to develop habituation. When your child gets habituated through repetition, your child’s intellect is no longer excited by your stimulation, making your efforts to teach him useless. When you notice this happening, take this as a cue to make changes in your teaching style, perhaps by changing a toy or pausing your teaching schedule for a while.
Your child’s attentiveness is important. In order for your baby to benefit from your stimulating interaction, he needs to be in the mood for it – your baby’s attentiveness is vital to successful stimulation. If your baby is sleepy – perhaps from boredom, overstimulation, or just sheer exhaustion – simply let your child rest and resume your activities when he is more receptive. Understand that when your baby is attentive, he makes a conscious effort to learn more about the world around him. Your baby devotes all of his energies to what you have to show him only when you have his full attention, so you must learn to maximize this limited time.
Your baby’s immediate surroundings will have the greatest impact on his development. Each and every thing your baby is exposed to is a wondrous thing to be explored fully with their eyes, ears, mouths, noses, and fingers. Simple items that you may take for granted represent a world of wonder for your curious child, as everything is something to new to investigate. Ensure that your child receives the appropriate stimulation during his first year of life, because this is the time when your baby’s brain is growing the fastest that it ever will.
Satisfying your baby’s curiosity will keep her wanting more. Have you eaten a piece of candy and end up wanting another one? If so, then you are not unlike your baby – once he experiences something that he finds pleasure in, he will strive to learn more and more about it. You, as parents, can play a helpful part in feeding their thirst for knowledge, and you can do this by providing your baby with the opportunities to experience different stimuli to further pique his curiosity and make him want to learn more.