What Can I Do to Aid in My Baby's Development? The Experts Weigh in...
As I was brainstorming for a topic for this week's blog post, I thought, wow, new moms, dads, and caregivers are inundated with advice as soon as the baby is born (and sometimes before). This advice comes from family members, friends, acquaintances, and quite often total strangers in the grocery store who feel compelled to inform you that your baby needs a hat on in the middle of July in the sweltering heat. Wouldn't it be nice to get just one important piece of advice that proves to be critical to your baby's mastering of the developmental milestones?
I have asked the "experts" of the Our First Year team to let our readers in on the one piece of advice for parents in aiding with the development of fine motor skills, gross motor skills, and speech/language skills. It was a difficult task, but they managed to narrow it down to one paramount tip to enlighten our very savvy readers.
For gross motor skills, we went to our resident physical therapist, Dr. Donna Woodworth. According to Donna, the most important thing you can do to encourage motor skills in your baby, is to allow them to move. Place them on the floor, carry them on your hip, dance with them, and bounce them on your lap. Allowing your baby to explore their environment with their body will get them mastering those gross motor developmental milestones. If your baby is moving around freely, that indicates that they are spending less and less time in those confining baby containers (e.g. car seats, bouncers, playpens, and cribs). Remember to entice your baby to crawl with some of the toys from the Our First Year backpack.
Fine motor skills were tackled by our occupational therapist extraordinaire, Dr. Hollie Hendershot. Hollie would like to get the word out that video games and other technologies do not increase children's fine motor skills. Yes, it's cute how babies can swipe smart phones and navigate the TV remote, but these are not the kinds of activities that will aid in your baby's crawling, ability to feed themselves, or eventual writing and drawing. Instead of the latest technology, provide your baby with toys like balls, soft blocks, and baby links, all of which you can find in the OFY backpack.
Speech and language skills were addressed by yours truly. As a speech-language pathologist, one thing that I would and have recommended to parents is to talk to your baby. You can start right after birth. Talk to your baby consistently throughout the day. Yes, I realize that your baby likely doesn't understand a word you say and will not talk back to you. However, your baby is becoming acclimated to the sounds in his/her environment. Your baby is also learning intonation, tone of voice, vocabulary, and social skills. Use a variety of facial expressions with your baby and watch his/her reaction - it's Instagram-worthy. Narrate your day and when you can't think of anything more to say, sing or read to your infant. The floor mirror and book in the OFY backpack will jump start your little one's language skills and they'll be talking in no time.
Now that you have the scoop from the OFY team, go forth and conquer those milestones with your baby. Playtime has never been more fun. You got this...it's all in the bag!
IYours truly addressed the speech and language skills. If there is one thing I could recommend to parents, it would be to talk to their baby from the moment he/she is born. I