Regardless of how you feel about your face it is of great interest to your baby. During quiet alert states hold your baby about eight to twelve inches away from your face and talk to her. Look her in the eye. Eye contact is important for her sense of worth. Try poking your tongue out. She is likely to poke hers out too. Smile and exaggerate facial expressions. In a moment or so she may begin to follow. When she turns her eyes away she has probably had enough and needs to rest. Let her rest. Infants are in the quiet alert state for only about 10% of 24 hours. She will tire and look away or maybe even fuss when she has worked at this long enough.
A baby’s sense of touch is highly developed. He may actually learn more through touching and being touched in wholesome ways than in any other way. Touch moderates stress hormones and helps weight gain. Let him hold your finger or stroke your face. Gently massage his legs and feet as you talk to him. Try skin-to-skin or holding him close as you walk around. This is where a comfortable supportive baby carrier comes into its own.
This picture is a favorite of mine. It isn’t skin-to-skin but there’s something warm & wonderful here!
Babies are sensitive to sound long before birth. They will follow their mother’s voice over another woman’s voice. They are especially sensitive to high frequencies so as you do things with your baby – dress, bath, feed her don’t be shy about singing, whistling or humming any tune you like. Dad’s nice low voice seems to be more soothing so that might come in particularly handy at nap time.
Dance with your baby. Put on some light music; hold him against you with your hand supporting his head and move with the music. My favorite!
For vision development Behavioral Optometrist Bryan Smith recommends that you move your baby’s arms and legs playfully, each part separately at first and then in various combinations. Raise and lower your baby as you look into each others eyes. This helps baby’s bilateral development.
I hope you enjoy these early weeks when you are so much the focus of your baby’s world and can have such and impact on the healthy development of your baby.