My little man is now 3 months old, and it’s a joy to watch the budding brain that’s unfolding before my eyes. He has gone from holding his hands in a tight fist to beginning to swat, reach, grab and pull. He progressed from barely being able to see black and white contrasts, to enjoying bright colors, shapes, and faces. Lastly, he has moved from a closed mouth mute to a babbling, cooing, smiling and laughing communicator. This developmental progress is a wonder to witness. To boost his brain’s potential, I’m using these Top 3 Brain Boosters and you can too!
1) Give Your Child Sensory Stimulation through Touch and Sight: The young child wants to explore through his senses, yet he doesn’t yet have the means to find stimulation on his own. We must give him all the means to explore within his reach, because it is through sensory stimulation that he learns. Montessori said it best: “As soon as the hand grasps something the consciousness is called to this hand which has been able to do so.” Consider making a “Treasure Basket” filled with items to stimulate baby’s brain through various shapes and textures.
This basket has a soft stuffed animal, a few books with simple pictures and bright contrasting colors, a ball that small hands can hold, a small wooden rattle, and small blanket square with ribbon loops around the edges. All are means to encourage the young child in this sensitive period primed to learn through sensory materials. In these early months of his life, you will need to place the objects in his hands for exploration, but over time, you can have the basket on a low shelf for him to pull out and explore on his own. Here’s a great list of 101 ideas to put in such a basket and this list provides several ideas for themed treasure baskets.
Also, I have fallen in love with the use of mobiles to stimulate baby visually. My baby loves seeing shapes and patterns, so I have a mobile above both his crib and his changing table. It is important to remember that mobiles are meant to be out of baby’s reach so that he can’t pull it down and hurt himself. The visual stimulation, however, engages his brain each time he’s in these environments.
2) Encourage his initiating movement by using a “Baby Gym”. There are many options for wooden/natural baby gyms. As your child lies under a baby gym, hang some toys that are within reach of his swatting arms and hands (preferably ones that make a gentle noise when moved). This is a great way to help your young child begin to learn cause-and-effect and encourage the initiation of movement. As he swats his arm to the right and hits an object that makes a noise, he begins to learn that his movement had an effect. With repetition, he will begin to learn to move just that right hand to hit an object on his right, and the same on the left. In addition, these early steps of hand-eye coordination are giving the body preparation for later developmental tasks such as writing, turning the pages of a book while reading, and so much more!
3) Dance or Bounce to help develop your child’s vestibular system. According to The Center for Developing Kids, “The Vestibular System (contributes) to the development of balance, equilibrium, postural control, muscle tone, maintaining a stable visual field while you are moving, and bilateral coordination.” (www.centerfordevelopingkids.com). This important system in our body is stimulated by movement and gravity. As you dance with your child, he gets to experience being in various locations in space and feel the way gravity interacts with the body as you move up and down. Similarly, you can move with your child while sitting on an exercise ball to give similar stimulation (while giving your legs and back a bit more support).
The Young Child needs to explore through his senses, so take advantage of this wonderful time period, and introducing him to stimulation in these varied ways. Enjoy!