In the first of this three-part series, guest contributor Dr. Amanda Gummer, a research psychologist who specializes in child development, provides informational and practical tips for bonding with your newborn baby. Often, parents find it hard to know what to "do" with a baby other than meeting the needs for food, sleep, comfort and care. As it turns out, there are many simple things you can do that not only entertains baby, but also helps foster development and promotes bonding and attachment. The following post is a collaboration between Dr. Gummer and Lamaze toys by TOMY.
The emotional connection that babies make in their first months is key for future mental health, so a strong attachment to a parent (or other main caregiver) is vital for your little one’s development.
This attachment starts forming before your baby is even born; a baby can recognize the sound of its mother’s voice when they’re still inside womb. Over the next three weeks, your baby will start to recognize mum and dad, and shortly after will begin to recognize other key people in their lives like nan and grandad.
When you take your new bundle of joy home for the first time, particularly if this is your first child or you have never had any contact with babies before, you may be thinking ‘oh God, what do I do with it?’. What sort of conversation can you have with a week old infant?
There are actually lots of ways you can interact with your baby to help build a strong attachment. Cuddles are always good, while talking to her with a bright and cheery voice can gain your baby’s attention. Making physical contact by gently touching her face or arm when talking to them can encourage her to turn and look at you, improving the link she is making between your face and your voice.
Shared play is also a wonderful way to interact with your baby, and a playful parent can be really engaging for a child. Something as simple as peekaboo is a lovely game to play. Toys can be brilliant for facilitating play; different textures, highly contrasting patterns (like black and white stripes) and things that make a noise are all hugely stimulating for a baby’s senses.
If you are trying to get your baby to look at a toy, keep in mind that in the first month or so she will only be able to see about twelve inches away, just enough to see your face when you are holding her (this is important for the attachment building mentioned before). From around two months old she will start being able to follow objects with her eyes; holding a toy in front of her eye-line and slowly moving it side to side will support this development.
At this age your little one’s attention will be fleeting, so don’t be put off if she seems to get bored of your antics! It’s important to give your baby some downtime too, so she can absorb her surroundings.
Find Lamaze toys to play with your baby as they develop and grow. Lamaze toys are designed with input from a team of experts in child development, pediatrics and child psychology to ensure all Lamaze toys are engaging, age appropriate and fun for your child to play with. Each purchase supports Lamaze International and a healthy start for moms and babies. Find Lamaze toys at www.amazon.com/lamaze.
Dr Amanda Gummer, Ph.D., Founder and CEO of Fundamentally Children. As a research psychologist specialising in child development, Amanda’s work spans corporate, government and charity sectors through which she promotes the value of play and positive parenting in child development to a variety of audiences. Her passion for play is illustrated in her book Play - fun ways to help your child thrive in the first 5 years, published by Vermillion in 2015.