Having a baby is a huge responsibility that you should prepare for. In addition to meeting their physical demands, you are responsible for their growth. Failure to focus on this could cause delays in their development. With that, you need to be more careful with how you look after your child to allow them to grow at the right phase.
The first two years of your baby’s life are among the most crucial for growth. Typically, this entails developing their language and motor skills because they need to build those areas to improve brain functions. This can be beneficial to them as they age.
Having said that, this article outlines some practices that can help to promote baby development for the first two years of their life:
- Breastfeed As Much As You Can
You should initiate breastfeeding as soon as your baby’s born. The first few drops of breastmilk contain plenty of nutrients, antibodies, and antioxidants that could help your baby grow stronger and healthier. Moreover, knowing the benefits of breastfeeding can help encourage you to do this for your baby during their first two years. There’s no limit to when your baby can breastfeed, but most would recommend exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months and onwards, depending on the milk production.
- Always Talk To Your Child
Developing your child’s language skills early can help you to communicate with them effectively and as quickly as possible. This way, your baby can give you cues and signals whether they want something or feel something they’d like you to be aware of.
To help encourage your child to talk, you should always speak to your child even if you’re not getting any responses. You could pretend to converse with them and just go on until they understand what you’re trying to say to them. While it might take a while before they can comprehend your language, it’ll be your gateway to teaching them tricks and being able to play with them.
- Read Books Aloud
Reading books to your child is important to help them widen their imagination, teach them communication, and build their vocabulary, memory, and listening skills. This can help them to learn better academically while keeping themselves entertained with the stories they get to hear. As they grow older and gain interest in reading, they can use it to learn new things and improve their skills.
- Introduce Open-Ended Toys
Children should be able to play with toys as they grow up because it’ll help stimulate their motor skills as they press buttons or move their toys around. It also helps keep them occupied while the parents work or unwind for a time.
From the wide variety of toys available on the market, it’s advisable to choose open-ended toys for your kids. This can include building blocks, magnetic tiles, dolls, and more. An open-ended toy provides limitless possibilities, allowing them the freedom to do anything they want and letting their imaginations run wild. Moreover, it can help to improve their creativity, cognitive abilities, and motor skills.
- Encourage Self-Feeding
When your child reaches six months, it’s time to introduce them to eating solid foods. While spoon-feeding may be the easiest and quickest method of feeding them, doing so will not help them develop their motor skills and will discourage them from chewing harder foods.
So, to make them learn independence and improve their physical abilities, you should teach your child to self-feed using the Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) method.
With BLW, your child will be able to eat alone by using a set of utensils or biting finger-sized food. While this can be a bit messier, it will encourage independence which will allow your child to complete basic activities without your help.
You can introduce more nutrient-dense solid foods once your baby develops good feeding skills. For instance, you can introduce meat to your baby’s diet for a healthy protein, iron, and zinc source, like what Serenity Kids discusses here.
- Expose To Different Textures
Your baby will start to get curious about the surroundings by the time they are two or three years old. At this point, you can expose your child to various textures to help in awareness and motor skills development. You can start by letting their hands touch and feel books or things inside your house that have smooth, rough, bumpy, soft, hard, hot, and cold surfaces. See how your child reacts and ask them what they’re feeling. This also helps encourage communication.
- Avoid Screen Time
Your child doesn’t need any screen time exposure for the first two years of their life. While it helps to keep them entertained and seated, it might impair their good eyesight and cause speech delays. If your child constantly watches TV or videos from a tablet or phone, they won’t have any real interaction because they’ll be forced to just listen and not speak. To aid your child’s language and communication skills development, you should avoid screen time and make an effort to have a conversation with them, even if they’re not answering back.
You can teach your little one good communication skills without relying on language-learning apps and mobile devices. Reading to your baby is a fantastic way to expose them to new words and sounds. Moreover, you can sing to your baby to expose them to new words and sounds. You can sing nursery rhymes, songs from your childhood, or even just make up your own songs.
When you’re out and about, point to things and name them for your baby. In that way, your baby learns the names of objects in the environment. Even if your baby doesn’t understand everything you’re saying, they’re still learning. Talk to your little one about what you’re doing, what you’re seeing, and what you’re thinking.
- Give Undivided Attention
The most important thing that your child needs is you and your full attention. While it’s unavoidable to get busy during the day as you work and do some chores, ensure that you set enough time during the day to bond with your child. As you play with them and give your undivided attention, try to be in their shoes to understand them better and make your playtime with them more meaningful. It will help you form a stronger relationship with them and ensure that they feel safe near you.
Aside from playtime, bathing is a great bonding moment for moms and babies. It’s a time when you can connect with your baby physically and emotionally. You can talk to your little one, sing and play with them. Bath time is also good for relaxing and de-stressing while enjoying your baby’s company.
- Use Easy Words With Your Baby
A great way you can encourage language and communication development is by using easy words when talking to your baby. This way, your baby wouldn’t have much trouble analyzing what you’re trying to say but would instead be familiar with the words they frequently hear. As you carefully go about this, they’ll be able to learn how to communicate. And as you continue with this process, they’ll be able to eventually comprehend the concepts of actions, objects, and colors.
The most important phases of your child’s development occur in the first two years of life so you need to keep an eye out for them. As you give your baby your undivided attention, read books to them, and frequently talk to them using easy words, you can help in the development of their skills. While it might be a bit challenging to do all of those things, especially when you have a tight schedule, focusing on their development may be worth the sacrifice. By doing this, you may strengthen your relationship with your child and make them feel more loved as you assist them in their growth.