Since a baby’s skills are limited and her attention span short, it can be difficult to entertain her for those first few months. The secret of entertaining your baby is to understand her developing needs and to provide her with a variety of appropriate activities. And you needn’t buy expensive toys; homemade entertainment provides opportunities for her to learn new skills, infant activities and to understand the world she lives in.
Here are some useful suggestions on how to entertain your baby, infant stimulation activities, and enjoy each other’s company.
SOUND – Talk to your baby right from the beginning. You can talk to her about anything. Babies love their mother’s soothing voice.
Entertain her with sounds around the house. Surprisingly, young babies actually like the sound made by the washing machine, vacuum cleaner or hair dryer-they find it soothing.
SINGING – Your baby won’t criticize if you sing out of tune, and she’ll prefer your voice to a cassette, Repeat a song several times over for a few days so that she gets to know it, then add a completely new one. Try singing traditional lullabies or simple nursery rhymes.
NURSERY RHYMES – Songs with repetitive action are fun- like this one, where you touch the parts of the baby’s body as you name them:
Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes,
Two eyes, two ears, a mouth and a nose;
As the baby gets older you can recite ‘One two buckle my shoe’ as you climb the stairs, particularly once your baby starts walking. Also sing rhymes like ‘Baa baa black sheep’ – and when you get to the ‘three bags full’ hold up three fingers, then bend down one finger at a time as you ‘distribute’ the bags.
Reciting nursery rhymes to young children helps improve their language and memory, and develops important rhythmic patterns.
POST CARD PICTURE – At this stage babies prefer simply patterns to very complex ones. They love bright colours. Draw a bold shape on a plain postcard with a thick felt-tip pen. Tuck it down beside the mattress within your baby’s range of vision or fasten it to the side of the cot with some sticky tape. After a day or two, add another detail so that it’s slightly different. Later on you can change the shape to add further variation.
MOBILE – Screw a hook into the ceiling near your baby’s cot and attach a long string to it. Find the distance at which objects attract his attention hang mobiles where they can be seen when looked at from below and where your child can focus on them. Tie a bulldog clip or clothes peg to the end of the string to hold items for him to look at. Change the object when he loses interest.
Things to hang on a mobile: One or two coloured balloons (later, draw a face on them); a paper plate, or the lid form a cheese-spread box, with a face drawn on it; a boldly patterned scarf; several strips of kitchen foil which you have wound round your finger first to make them curly.