“I’m wondering what everyone does with their babies. Today I found myself watching the clock all day praying for the time that my partner would finish work. There’s just nothing to do all day. There’s the play mat, then the excitement of moving to their chair and then what?”
“It’s so boring!”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this from parents; (mostly after the baby has grown up a bit and they feel that it’s ok to admit it.) How much easier would it be for everyone if people admitted it at the time… then we could all have less guilt about feeling it!
I’m here to tell you…
Having a new-born baby is boring!
Let’s face it, they don’t exactly ask you if you want a coffee and then come up with stimulating conversation, do they?
The amazing thing is that, once you understand that simple is never simple for your baby, you will suddenly find your day becomes full and fulfilling.
Let me explain.
There are a number of parts to this.
The first is actually quite simple to solve.
It’s what to DO with your baby, all day every day.
Well, there’s always jolly old Google, of course.
You can spend hours going through different sites looking for activities that:
- You want to do
- You have the stuff in the house to be able to do
- Your baby is the right sort of age to engage in
- Build on the skills that your baby has already developed
- Build up the skills that they need at this stage in their development…
Or, of course, you could just download the Oliiki app and find 1000+ simple, age-appropriate activities waiting for you! 😉
The second thing is a little bit deeper and bigger.
It’s understanding what your baby is gaining from the activity that you are doing.
It’s the why…
You see, when you understand this, then YOU’RE engaged.
When you feel like each activity is worth doing, when you understand the learning your baby is getting, you will see quite HOW important you are in your baby’s development. YOU will feel like you are actually doing something in a day.
And that’s HUGE.
So, let’s unpick this a bit. Take that age-old game that all babies love to play: taking their socks off… It’s a game that your baby may have been playing for a while and one that you might be slightly less into than they are! But today, let’s make it into a purposeful game.
So put some socks on your baby and let them take them off again. They may get right into it straight away, or you might need to show them what to do and help them initially.
When they have taken them off, put them on again!
Talk to your baby about what you are doing. Use lots of smiles, eye contact and chat.
‘Look at you! You’ve taken your sock off! YAY! Can you take the other one on? Yes, you can, Well done you!’
It’s a nothing, isn’t it; in fact, if you weren’t looking for it, it would pass you by as an activity, but for your baby it’s huge.
Let’s find the learning that’s going on in this incredibly simple game.
Firstly, you are bonding as you engage. This is the root of your relationship with your baby that will last for a lifetime. The more you invest in it at this stage, the stronger it will be. As you smile and chat to your baby, they will be watching you. They are programmed to connect with you. You just need to give them the opportunity to be able to do it. They will be tracking your eyes, following your movements, and watching your mouth as you talk. This is how they work really hard at building their bond with you. Just take the time to really notice your baby as you play, see where their eyes are… they will constantly come back to find you.
Secondly, you’re building their language skills as you talk to them. You’re teaching them the sound and the pattern of the language that you speak to them. You’re teaching them the music of your language.
Then there are the words, the questions, the answers.
Your baby needs to learn all of those. Then, of course there are the names of the things that you are talking about; socks, hands, etc. Your baby needs to learn that everything has a name, and what that name is. They also need to learn that the name of the object stays the same even if the colour/style/shape changes… which is quite something when you think about it! There is also the communication that they are giving you through the small sounds that they make. Listen carefully; they will be there - that is your baby beginning to communicate with you.
Thirdly, they’re building their gross motor control as they lift their legs to bring their feet up to reach for the socks. They need to control and coordinate their arms, hands, and legs to reach for the socks and then use their hands to try to remove them. To make it even harder, their hands and feet may well be out of sight. They are also possibly crossing their mid line (their middle) which is vital for developing both sides of the body, coordination, and connecting the synapses on both sides of the brain to develop communication between both sides of the brain. They also need to keep their body stable as they reach for the socks which will work to develop their core muscles so they will be able to sit, stand, walk, and run, and of course if they are sitting when they are doing this, there is also balance that is needed to hold them up while they change their weight distribution.
The fourth thing is fine motor control. Fine motor skills involve the small muscles in the hand, fingers and thumb. They are important for daily tasks such as doing up buttons, tying shoelaces and picking up small objects, as well as academic activities such as writing, cutting with scissors etc. The hand and fingers need to develop strength and dexterity to manipulate and control small items. If a child doesn’t develop fine motor skills, there can be a serious impact on their self-esteem and confidence as well as their academic progress. They will be less independent than other children their age which might lead to social problems. Clearly, providing opportunities which enable these fine motor muscles to be strengthened early in life has long lasting benefits.
The fifth thing is they are developing their curiosity. Babies need to learn this. And tiny opportunities build the foundations for bigger curiosity and investigation later on in life. If we want our children to be curious adults, we need to lay the foundations as soon as possible, and it’s through playing that we can easily do that.
The sixth thing they are learning is problem solving. HOW to get the socks off is a challenge that needs to be worked out. First, they need to think… ‘hmm, I have socks on my feet and I want to get them off’, then, they have to work out where their feet are in space. Next, they need to work out that their hands are the best thing to use. Then they need to work out how to get their hands to their feet and how to use them to grab the socks. This requires a lot of control. Finally, they need to have the pincer movement between their thumb and finger to hold the sock, and the strength to pull.
The final thing that they are learning is that they are having fun. They are developing their sense of fun and humour. As you talk to them and ‘play with them’, you are helping them to have fun with the game through the language that you use, and you never know, you might be rewarded with one of those amazing baby giggles that are so fabulous.
The development on from this game once your baby has their socks off is to show them their toes, help to count them (number development), tickle their feet (sensory development), show them their feet and talk to them about them (language development), move their feet from side to side (gross motor skills) and let them track them (this helps with reading later on), and then of course the extra extension is learning to put your socks back on again!
I told you that when you realised quite how much learning was happening for your baby from the simple daily activities you are doing you would find everything so much more interesting and engaging!
The Oliiki app helps you unpick the learning for each of those 1000+ activities that it has for you, so you can start really understanding the learning your baby is getting from the simple things you do each day.
When you do that, you will find that the simplest of things becomes a learning adventure for both you and your baby and the day will be so much more fulfilling and satisfying. You will have so much to talk about, and you will feel so much more engaged, connected, and focused on helping your baby develop. That will help your baby develop their skills more and guess what - that will result in your baby learning and developing more… it’s a win-win situation!
So, are you going to Google the next activity or will you simply download the Oliiki app and start your free 7 day trial to get an instant catalogue of simple, age-appropriate activities?