During your baby’s first month, his actions will be primarily dominated by his reflexes. He’ll cry when he’s hungry, he’ll instinctively suck on anything placed in his mouth, he’ll yawn, blink, cough or sneeze in response to stimuli. Most of his time will be spent sleeping, falling on an average of 17-20 hours per day.
At this stage, your child is largely helpless and in need of your constant care and attention, as he is just beginning to learn how to move and still has poor or minimal control of his muscles. With as little as three to four hours of time a day of being alert and silent, it is highly important to seize these opportunities to stimulate his senses, devoting time to talk to him and play with him.
An-Marie Bartolome-Villarin, managing director of the Terrific Tots Preschool Program at The Little Gym in Taguig City, and mother to Santi, gives some recommendations on activities that will jumpstart your baby’s developmental progress.
Newborn babies are especially responsive to their mother’s voice, becoming quiet as well upon hearing music or other soft sounds. It is also at this point wherein they begin to identify the difference between human voices and other sounds.
When baby is calm and awake, gently pick him up and cradle him in your arms, making sure that his head and neck are evenly supported. Make smooth, rocking motions, swaying from side to side as you hum or sing. The sound of your voice will help boost his auditory development or his hearing ability. Being held close promotes a feeling of safety for babies, simulating the warmth and security they felt while they were still in their mother’s womb. Receiving physical contact helps reassure the baby that there is someone looking after them and protecting them.
“Establish trust first,” says Villarin. “Trust would be letting them know that their needs will be met, first and foremost.”
Although babies zero to one month old can only focus on objects eight to ten inches away, they best respond to high-contrast colors and visual extremes. As such, when it comes to playtime, pediatricians recommend black, white, and red mobiles or other toys.
Villarin suggests picking out a toy that can be propped beside the baby’s cot or attached to the railings of his crib so that these are near enough to see. “Santi has a toy in his crib; on one side it’s all black, white, and red pictures. There’s a mirror, a house, there are pictures, animals, and you can use this with your newborn until he can recognize colors.”
An-Marie Villarin, managing director of the Terrific Tots Preschool Program of The Little Gym, Taguig City, and mother to Santiago