Question marks over infant stimulation
As an occupational therapist I am often asked what my magic tips for a clever child would be: “How do I maximize my child’s potential?” As we all know there is no shortage of people, programs, toys and activities that claim to do just that. It is tempting to spend a lot of money and time on just stimulating our baby to their full potential!
When I was pregnant with my first born, a company nearly convinced me to invest an entire months’ salary in a stimulation program that would ensure my child’s brilliance. The sales person promised: “If you buy this, you will never need to buy another toy”, “All you need to ensure he is a genius!” Even as an OT I was nearly convinced to part with my hard earned salary.
Disney was so sure of the importance of stimulation, that they paid $25 million for the Baby Einstein brand a few years ago. Well just last year, research from the University of Washington suggested that baby videos may in fact hinder infants’ vocabulary development. (Newsweek Aug. 20-27, 2007 issue)
Stimulation is very important for your baby’s brain development and exposure to a wide range of sensory experiences does enhance development. But if the research is to be believed and a well researched program, such as baby DVD’s, actually hinders development, what should you do to enhance your baby’s development? The truth is that the more simple stimulation activities are more beneficial that any fancy toy or activity on the market:
- Talk to your baby
- Read to your toddler
- Sit on the floor and play with your baby
- Read your baby’s signals and respond by letting your baby sleep regularly so they are fresh to enjoy stimulation
- Massage your baby
- Take your baby for long walks in a baby carrier or pram and talk about their world.
These simple age old activities may well hold more value than a fancy stimulation program does. And remember that the best experience in life, the one that has the greatest impact on your baby is just to be loved.
Article by: Meg from Babysense