Congratulations! A newborn comes into the world. You come home from the hospital with a little bundle of joy, so tiny, so cute. What does it do? - sleep and eat, cries, and nothing else, it seems like. Is it learning? Does it have intelligence? You bet it does! A newborn learns faster than you can imagine. It learns so much about it's environment, we can't even fathom...
A newborn learns who the mommy is, who the daddy is, maybe other people. How do they sound? How do they look? How do they feel? How do they smell? How do they react to the sounds I make? While a brand new baby lives the first new days in the world, it learns a big load of information. It has to learn how to breathe, how it feels to be outside of the womb, in the dry air. It feels different temperatures, sees light and dark, feels hands holding it and picking it up. Learns how to suck, and how to swallow. A new baby also also learns to communicate. It learns that when it cries - it gets to eat! That when mommy (or daddy, or grandma...) picks it up, it feels warm and good! What else does the newborn learn? The newborn develops it's eye sight and hearing at this time. After a week or two, the infant starts being able to focus it's eyes, and it's hearing develops.
I can't wait to tell you about Tatum, my 4 weeks old grandbaby. Then I will suggest some activities for brand new babies that can make a difference. My daughter Tammy has requested that I teach her baby to swim, as I did with my two kids. Eric, my son has gotten his first swimming lesson in our bathtub, as soon as we started bathing him, and shortly thereafter I started taking him into our swimming pool with me for swimming lessons. So I have explained to Tammy how to start teaching Tatum how to swim.
I must explain here that newborns are not at all bothered by the water. They love it, because they are very familiar with the feeling of being in warm water, where they have spent a significant amount of time, in the womb. So the difficulty is really for the mother to get comfortable with letting the child be in the water.
I have explained to Tammy that if you blow on a baby's face, the baby will hold it's breath. So I told her to do this several times outside of the water, to convince herself that the baby does hold her breath when blown on her face. I also told Tammy, before she does that, to count to 3, to communicate to the baby that she is going to blow on her face and put her face in the water. So Tammy has done this for several days during the baby's bath, she has counted till 3, and then blown on the baby's face, and gently put her face in the water as soon as the baby held her breath.
A few days later, when Tammy counted till 3, the baby has already learned to close her eyes and hold her breath, without the need to blow on her face. What do you think about this? It is clear that the baby has already learnt that when she is in the bath tub, and mommy counts till three, she is going to put her in the water! Is that a good enough proof that the baby is learning at the speed of light from it's environment?
So how can we take advantage of this fact and start teaching the baby lessons that will benefit it in the future and help it develop better? Here are some suggestions for activities that parents can do with very new babies immediately at the beginning. These activities should be done when the baby is awake (don't wake the baby up just for this!) and only when the baby is comfortable and in good mood.
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