You love your baby…of course you do. It’s so wonderful to hold that little you and to see that smile and those tiny toes. Oh … and to hear people argue over who the baby most resembles. Awww she/he is so cute! Now stop. Skip your thoughts forward 20 years from today. That tiny bundle of pink or blue is now an adult. What do you see? Where do you see him/her? I am not talking about “hopefully” here. I am asking you to be realistic, based on the plans you already have in place for your baby’s development.
Did you know you are the most important person/thing to your baby? I say person/thing not by mistake. Of all that surrounds your baby, you are the most important. Babies don’t need expensive toys. They don’t need expensive clothes (yes I know it makes you feel good when they are all dressed up and coordinated), but that is for you not for them. Seriously … come on! Is it in your baby’s best interest when he is screaming because he wants off the table but you hold him down until you finish stuffing him into all those coordinated layers? Or … and this is a good one, she is crying her eyes out while you are braiding her hair and you continue to hold her down. Yeah…no! These trappings are for you not for them.
What are the best things for your baby? Simple things like … YOU! So, here are a few things you can do to help your baby develop well.
- Sing to your baby when you bath her. Make it a special time when you can also relax and enjoy the experience. You don’t have to do it yourself daily (I know many people have help) but try to make it several times every week. She learns: to connect with you
- Hold your baby facing you, make eye contact and talk to him in a gentle voice. Wait for his response – an eye twitch, gurgle, smile, whatever and then say something again. He learns: speech patterns for language development
- Explain what you are doing to her – changing diaper, brushing hair, getting ready to feed etc. she learns: language and to bond with you
- Comfort your baby when he cries. Crying is his only way of telling you his needs: – food, diaper change, feeling lonely, want to be close to you, something hurts etc. Hmm! I hear the typical Nigerian “ah but you will spoil him oh” and no! You will not spoil him. He learns: Trust (someone is here for me)
- Create safe floor space so your baby can spend some time on her tummy daily (when younger) and explore the environment (when a bit older). She learns: physical coordination and thinking skills.
I know parents are very busy but this is your most important job and this time is really very short. Enjoy it. I can’t tell you how frequently I hear parents say “They’ve grown up so fast. I don’t know where the time went”.
And remember, every experience your baby has contributes to the wiring of his/her brain. Make them as positive as possible.