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With the birth of your first child, you become more than a couple, you become parents. Parents are a child‘s first teachers and are the most important people in her life. Parenthood is also a privilege, a challenge, and an obligation. When you become parents you assume complete responsibility for another human being. Everything you do from now on will have a profound effect on your child‘s mental, physical, and emotional development.
It should be remembered that a baby‘s development begins long before birth. With the start of life, a baby is locked into a steady,predictable pattern of progressive growth. This growth occurs in four main skill areas: physical, mental, social, and language attainment. All of these abilities are interdependent and equally important. A deficit in one area can result in poor progress in a baby‘s overall achievements .
Bonding is the mutual attachment between parents and child that occurs as a result of physical contact. Nursing may well be the prime source of maternal bonding, although bottle-feeding, if the baby is held closely and lovingly, is also a cooperative relationship that strengthens this reciprocal connection.
Handling, other than during feeding, is another vital step in the bonding process. There are many opportunities for dad to develop this same close attachment between himself and his child. Both mom and dad can share in the holding, rocking, and stroking that not only strengthens the parent-child interaction but also stimulates parts of the infant’s developing nervous system.
We know now from clinical studies that babies who are only a few days old are already extremely aware of their new environment. For example, in a 1961 study conducted by M. Wetheimer, only a few minutes after birth, a baby reacted to the sound of a clicker by turning her head and eyes in the direction of the sound. In another experiment conducted in 1975 by O. Melzoff and M. K. Moore, a baby less than a week old imitated his mother‘s actions. When she put out her tongue, her baby did the same; when she fluttered her eyelashes, her little son also blinked his eyes.
Babies are puzzled by their environment, and in their own instinctive and primitive way, they seek to find answers. At this stage, babies learn by trial and error, and sometimes by accident. For example, moving about in his crib, a baby may turn and look to the right where he’ll find nothing to hold his attention other than nursery room furniture; in this instance, baby learns that turning to the right is not rewarding and not worth pursuing.
It is important for you to remember that babies learn from and by the consequences of their actions. If the consequence of a behavior is positive, rewarding, and pleasing, that behavior will be repeated. For example, once a baby discovers that shaking a rattle results in pleasing noises, he will shake it deliberately. Rattle shaking will become what is known as part of a baby’s “behavioral repertoire.”In other words, it’s a skill that he has learned and will continue to use.
Babies are full of curiosity. They study unfamiliar situations and learn by trial and error, making discoveries along the way. Step by step, but with increasing success, they gain control over their environment. They can make things happen and that is a great delight to them and should be to their parents as well. As your baby gains more control over his environment, it opens the door to many possibilities. The puzzle games below should be interesting and fun for you and your baby to try.
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Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post.