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The importance of stimulation for babies in early years
Charly Baby College Mid Warwickshire
A vast amount of brain development takes place during a relatively short period of time during childhood. Compared to other animals, which are born with the ability to move and feed independently, humans are born at a much earlier developmental stage. This evolved out of necessity, as if humans were born at a more independent level, the brain and head would be far too large to pass through the birth canal! Thus, during the early years a child must develop rapidly with the help of parents and caregivers and learn an enormous number of skills that they’ll need to function throughout their lives.
The child’s brain in it’s early years is busy building and wiring by activity in the brain creating connections called synapses. The more stimulation the infant brain receives, the more these electrical connections are strengthened and made permanent through repetition and consistent stimulation.
What is the right amount of stimulation?
Babies and toddlers are very clever at taking what they need from what they experience. In a similar way to nutrition, where the body takes what it needs from the food consumed and then discards the rest, the brain is doing the same from the environment it experiences. It is reassuring to know that it is not our sole responsibility as parents to control this process in detail. As long as you are providing a nice balanced diet of activities your baby’s clever brain will pick out what it needs at each given moment and ignore the rest. Babies are very good at tuning out when they have had enough.
Look out for these signs that a young baby has had enough of an activity:
The last couple can also be signs of over-stimulation. Try taking a break and take them over to look at a less busy part of the house or just quietly cuddling them. Older babies and toddlers still have a short attention span but will be much better at letting you know when they need a change of activity.
How much variety in stimulation do babies need?
In a similar way to adults, children will disengage from repetitive tasks they find boring. It is important to have a ‘balanced diet’ of stimulation. Here are just a few ideas::
TALKING about EVERYTHING using lot’s of different words, sounds and most important of all expression in your face and actions. Modelling different ways to respond in different situations and repetition for language development. For example: If a baby is reaching out for more strawberries, prompt the word ‘more?’. Pause over time and you might start to form the word ‘more’ with the child!
MUSIC – Dance to strengthen the vestibular system, sing nursery rhymes to broaden their language, use instruments and listen to the different patterns and rhythms in music. Music is also great for emotional development.
BOND – Love, cuddles, attention and affection allows for the creation of a strong self-esteem and increased strengthened development of the synapses. By teaching your child that their needs can be met by communicating gives them a strong sense of trust and emotional stability. This all helps with a child’s emotional and social development across all areas of development.
SENSES - Things to look at with different colours, shapes, textures and sounds to
stimulate all the senses. A treasure basket is helpful here and Black and White cards.
MOVEMENT - Tummytime and other physical activities.
Baby College classes are fun weekly developmental classes for children 0-3 and their parents (or carers). The classes are split into three different age groups. Our aim is to give you ideas of how to play with and stimulate your baby, whilst helping you to understand many aspects of your baby’s development.
At their core, Baby College classes are a total developmental workout for you baby. Our holistic approach is rooted in science, providing an accessible way to explore your child’s evolving needs in the physical, neurological, communicative and cognitive. A series of repetitive, gentle physical exercises help mature your baby’s balance system and replace their infant reflexes. Language and communication skills are explored, music and listening are encouraged, and various sensory games give your child a fun, nurturing environment to grow. By promoting eye contact, sensory stimulation, and an understanding of your child’s needs, the bond with your child will be reinforced. In addition, the part of the brain responsible for experiencing and expressing emotion develops from the way in which parents interact with their baby.
Classes start in September in Warwick and Stratford-Upon-Avon on Tuesday’s and Friday’s. To book: www.babycollege.co.uk/mid-warwickshire