You want the best for your baby and already know that their first year of life is a crucial time for development. But after feeding, settling and making sure you’re keeping some semblance of sanity, it can seem like there’s just not enough time in the day for anything else.
While allowing your baby to have a chance to have new experiences is helpful for their development, AHPRA registered nurse and Baby Sleep Consultant Hannah Myers says you don’t have to make sure you’re doing absolutely everything under the sun.
“Try not to get too fixed on (making sure your baby learns) certain skills. Explore different baby classes – some babies like reading, some like baby gym class – explore what you and your baby find enjoyable, as opposed to what everyone else is doing.”
Here are five ways to help your baby’s development that are fun for you too:
1. Dance with your baby
Turn that music on and have a boogie – babies love music! Dancing together can help your baby’s cognitive development, emotional awareness and awareness of their environment.
Having a spontaneous dance session can also help to relieve your stress. Listening to music and dancing can also release the feel-good hormone dopamine and reduce your cortisol levels. Winning all-round!
2. Meet friends out in the park
“Doing things like spending time in the park with other mums and their babies is just as beneficial for your baby’s development as baby classes,” says Hannah.
This time can be spent recharging your batteries with a bit of adult companionship while your baby lays on a blanket with other babies. Having the chance to see other babies and experience you socialising can help your baby’s social and emotional skills.
3. Wear your baby
Babies love snuggling and need touch to feel safe and secure. By wearing your baby in the early weeks and months you can provide them with this all-important contact and allow yourself to be hands-free at the same time.
When you wear your baby in a sling or carrier like a JJ Cole Agility Stretch Carrier, your baby can see the world around them and start making sense of their routine as you move through the day with them.
4. Try out different baby classes
One of the most challenging parts of having a young baby is the isolation from adult company. If you’re craving social contact and mum friends aren’t handy for park hangs – baby classes can be a great way to meet other parents and give your baby a chance to develop their growing skills.
You can try different classes and see what clicks for you and your baby. Whether it’s baby swim class, gym class or library hour for babies, there are plenty of baby classes out there to explore – so find out what suits you and your baby.
5. Take walks in nature
Crack out the stroller or the carrier and take a walk in nature. When you’re taking care of a very young baby, being surrounded by nature can be a useful time-out for you. When your baby is a little older, you can help their language and sensory skills by going on walks and telling them all about the trees and flowers you see and giving them leaves and flowers so they can feel the different textures, see the different colours, and learn the different names.
However you choose to nurture your baby’s development, it’s okay to be realistic about how hands-on you can be, especially if you’re returning to out-of-home work or juggling multiple commitments.
As Hannah says, “Try to be realistic about the time you’re going to spend investing in things like baby classes. You don’t need to be attending every single class. You don’t need to do all the things.”
This is a sponsored post by BIG W, where you can find everything you need for pregnancy, baby and beyond.