Playtime provides a good opportunity to assist in the development of your baby's sense of touch, smell, hearing, sight, and taste. As soon as your little one starts to make use of those senses more actively, it also ultimately helps boost his physical and mental development. Playing is a key part of how your baby enhances certain brain functions, such as problem solving, memory and decision making. In other words, it helps your baby learn to think.
Physical play also helps your baby to learn what his little body can and can't do, as well as strengthening his muscles and improving his coordination.
Toys and games help your child master his motor skills and figuring out how the world works. When he's stacking toy rings, for instance, your baby is discovering their shape and what happens when they're thrown. He's enhancing his hand-eye coordination as well as learning to recognise patterns and colors. He begins to notice how things are similar and different, as well as spatial concepts like "up" and "down."
Scheduling a set time to play with your baby every day is not something you should really worry about. You’ll often notice that he's probably ready to play when he seems calm and is making eye contact, moving his arms and legs, and making sounds. These cues are more frequent when he's well-fed and rested. Eventually, you'll master your baby's cues.
Developing and enhancing eyesight
Even though your newborn's eyesight is fuzzy beyond 30 centimeters or so, he can make out the details of your face. Allow him to study your facial expressions during playtime because that plays a vital role in the development of social skills. When your baby is 2 to 4 months old, he should start making eye contact with you. Your responses to his tiny signals contribute to his sense of self and help the two of you become closer. You can also help your baby learn to coordinate head and eye movements by slowly moving a toy across his field of vision and encouraging him to watch it.
Strengthening the physical connection through your baby’s sense of touch
From around 5 months, your baby may start to reach for objects. You can boost physical development by placing a toy within his sight but just out of reach. Observe as he shuffles, stretches, or rolls toward it. Hanging a rattle or mobile where he can kick at it also teaches him about cause and effect. As discussed in previous posts, it’s also very beneficial to maintain a constant skin-to-skin connection with your baby to promote mental and emotional development.
Helping your baby develop his sense of hearing
When speaking to your baby, give him a chance to respond with a smile, gurgle, or laugh. When he responds, make sure to answer back. This shows your baby that you're interested in what he has to say, which is essential in building trust and affection. This also promotes the development of language and comprehension.
Babbling and laughing with your baby is important for your health, too. That kind of connection triggers the release of the so-called love hormone, oxytocin, which in adults helps create an extra close bond between babies and parents.
Remember, your baby's attention span is far shorter than that of an older child or adult. Hence, your baby may quickly become overwhelmed by too much stimulation. When you notice him rubbing his eyes, looking away, crying or fussing or closing his eyes and falling asleep, take it that your baby may be feeling tired or bored. If you feel he's had enough entertainment, give him a break by clearing away his toys and just holding him to calm him further. If he looks sleepy, try putting him down for a nap.
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