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7 things you can do to help your baby’s development.

Johnson's Baby
Thanks to our brand partner, Johnson's Baby

Easy, everyday activities that make a big difference.

As much as babies love you blowing raspberries on their tummies, tickling them, kissing their little heads and shaking rattles above their faces as they gurgle with delight, there are also many ways to combine fun activities like these with those that will help your baby’s development.

It all starts before they are even born – particularly in the final trimester, when talking to your future baby, singing to them and playing music is encouraged. Then, once that little bundle is in your arms, there’s even more you can do each day.

In the seconds and minutes between sleeping, feeding, nappy changes and the aforementioned raspberries on their tummies, there are things you can do to help your baby’s development.

I’m no expert, but these are some tips according to Johnson’s: 

1. Baby massage.

Most Aussie parents have heard of baby massage but don’t understand how helpful it can be. Massage can help your baby relax before bedtime. Research from JOHNSON’s So Much More campaign highlighted that close contact between mum and baby (or dad and baby) helped calm baby’s breathing and routine touch and massage improve sleep quality and quantity when part of a bedtime routine. Alice Campbell, a touch expert from the International Association of Infant Massage, says massage can even aid your baby’s development.

“Baby’s first emotional bonds are built from physical contact, or touch. This contact serves as the foundation for emotional and intellectual development later in life,” she says. Campbell suggests taking classes in baby massage, so ask your hospital if they offer them, and use oils and creams made specifically for babies to make the massage more enjoyable.

“Research from JOHNSON’s So Much More campaign highlighted that close contact between mum and baby (or dad and baby) helped calm baby’s breathing and routine touch and massage improve sleep quality and quantity when part of a bedtime routine.”

I used to use JOHNSON’S baby oil ($5.49 for 200ml) on my little ones because it just smells so amazing.

2. Minimise stimulation.

Babies use a lot of their brain activity to move, play and take in their surroundings – and it can be tiring and overwhelming. Campbell suggests reducing things like overhead lighting and excessive external noise to help your baby to concentrate on enjoying their time with you.

I noticed this with my children when they were really little. By removing all the toys from their room and allowing them to just focus on their little mobile hanging over their cot, they fell asleep much faster.

3. Eye contact.

Offering your baby lots of eye contact is such a beautiful way to spend play time with your child, but remember, the amount of eye contact they can return varies.

I remember my first baby making prolonged eye contacts with everyone, however, my second took three weeks to open his eyes and then had difficulty focusing on anything for long. All babies will get better at it the more you do it.

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JOHNSON’s So Much More campaign revealed that infants who experienced routine touch and massages were 50 per cent more likely to make eye contact, which is an important sign that babies’ brain development and communication skills are right on track.

“Offering your baby lots of eye contact is such a beautiful way to spend play time with your child.”

4. Sing.

Did you know the number of words children hear by age two can help better their language development? Campbell recommends singing to your baby.

“If you are uncomfortable singing, don’t worry,” she assures parents. “Instead, just talk with your baby through the massage using a slightly higher pitched voice and slightly longer vowels.”

5. Bath.

Using the same bathing product for their daily bath routine will quickly teach your baby about this important night-time ritual. Choose a product targeted to babies and if you use the same product each time, your baby will associate the scent and sensation with sleepy time – hopefully.

Your baby is able to smell before they are even born – at about 28 weeks into pregnancy. Enjoyable and familiar scents have been proven to improve mood, calmness and alertness, and the scent of a mother can help reduce crying. Additionally, scent is important from day one because newborns use the sense of smell to familiarise themselves more than any other sense.

Research also showed that enjoyable and familiar scents (like those during bath time) have been shown to improve mood and alertness.

Even if you don’t bathe your baby every night, you can use a washcloth to wipe their face and hands to signal bedtime.

brain development in infants
“Your baby is able to smell before they are even born – at about 28 weeks into pregnancy. Enjoyable and familiar scents have been proven to improve mood, calmness and alertness, and the scent of a mother can help reduce crying.” Image via iStock.
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6. Read.

You can read to your baby from the moment they are born. Children’s books are designed to cater for all ages, and while babies may not understand exactly what you are saying, they will enjoy the sound of your voice.

By reading the same books repeatedly, your baby will soon get to know the concept of story time and before you know it, they will even be able to turn the pages themselves. I love those books made out of fabric for newborns and the plastic ones that go in the bath.

7. Play.

When my children were babies I spent a lot of time sitting on the floor next to them while they lay on their play mat or sat in their rocker. I just wanted to be near them.

I could easily have started watching TV or folding laundry and I did sometimes do things like that, however, I also spent a lot of time playing with them, showing them toys and just being with them during their down time.

brain development in infants
I just wanted to be near them. Image via iStock.

Which activities have brought you closer with your kids?

Click through to see which celebs debut their newborns on instagram…

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