The first five years of a child's life are hugely important in terms of development and sets them up for the rest of their lives. Understandably the first five years of life sees enormous growth as a baby grows into an infant.
You can easily monitor a baby's growth in weight and size, but what is more difficult to monitor is the development of their brain. Over this critical period the brain is forming and the neurons are evolving into a network that will power your childs thinking for the rest of their lives. Scientific research has shown that the more a baby is stimulated, the earlier their brain develops and the more attentive and clever they will grow to be in time.
Stimulating a baby from birth will pay dividends in the long run. This is why you should constantly talk with your little ones, even if they are nowehere near being able to communicate back. This is why you should expose them to lots of different environments - take them on days out, take them on long walks (even if you are simply pushing them in a buggy) and show them as many different experiences as you can. All of this will help their brain develop early on and you will be rewarded with bright children in the future.
In the first few months following birth, your baby is experiencing the world through its senses, and it is those experiences that help form connections inside the brain and these connections that shape the individual mind of your baby. At birth, a baby is barely able to see but they have an acute sense of smell. At three days old they can recognise the smell of their mother's breast milk and the odour of their parents, yet they can still see only centimetres in front of them. They have an innate ability to recognise faces and are attracted to faces close by.
By three months their brains have developed considerably and they are able to control themselves better - they can choose where to look rather than being fixated on moving objects nearby. They might move their arms and legs seemingly randomly, but this is helping them to build up muscles, an essential component on the way to being able to roll, crawl and later walk. This movement allows them to interact with their physical surroundings and this intensifies the rate at which the brain develops as it is exposed to new experiences. Research shows that babies who are denied the opportunity to interact physically with their surroundings develop at a slower rate so it is particularly important to work with babies suffering physical or mental disability to ensure that they can develop as best they can.
Interacting with your baby is especially important even during these early months - try to spend time with your newborn baby stimulating them. Stimulate their vision by exposing them to high contrast patterns and making movement in front of them; stimulate their hearing by playing background sounds and music, and rattling toys in front of them. Stimulate their sense of feel by touching stroking them and letting them hold your fingers and baby toys.
It would be easy to ignore your newborn baby and leave them lying in another room for their first few months while you get on with the chores you have to do, but the more time you can spend with your baby, the more rewarding for both you and your little one!
Don't forget that here at ToucanLearn we have activities suitable from birth onwards. Our early activities are simple and aimed at helping to stimulate early development in your child. All our activities link into the Early Years Foundation Stage Areas of Learning and Development, so you can monitor that you are giving your baby a broad range of activities even at this early stage.