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Your Newborn’s Development

A fancy way of referring to newborn play is “sensory exploration”. During your child’s earliest months, play is considered “exploration” because your baby is being introduced to new sensations through their untapped, fully-functioning senses. This is an exciting time as a parent!

Your newborn relies on your for all their needs: food, cleanliness, and yes – even sensory exploration. This is a major fundamental need that many parents may not even think about since it’s second nature, like the soothing sound of your voice and your loving touch.

These types of interactions with your baby will help propel their developmental achievements forward. Leading your newborn through the stages of growth will help them discover new sights, sounds and feelings. Sensory play also enhances gross motor development, such as their reflexes and muscle control.

An example of this is the “rooting reflex,”where if you touch baby’s cheek, he will turn his head and suck. Grabbing ahold of things, like your fingers or hair, is also by reflex. Gross motor development expands very quickly, as you will see when your baby’s reflexes transition from kicking legs to lifting of the head and eventually rolling over.

Touch is the most important to your baby. You can see this in their reaction when you rock or cuddle them, it is soothing for your baby. Other ideas, like massaging your baby, can also help heighten their sensory skills. You can also blow on their toes softly, provide them with satin or velvety blankets and give them exposure to different textures.

There are also many toys on the market to encourage sensory play in infants. Even simple items like pots and pans or spoons can help with discovering new sounds.

Besides touch, your baby’s language will begin developing. Your baby wants to interact with you, so talk to your baby even during your pregnancy. Baby talk is not all bad! Using this exaggerated, overly clear talk (called “motherese”) will help them to distinguish certain words and sounds you make. Sing or play music for your baby. You can also always read aloud to your baby from children’s books. It is never too early to start reading to your child.

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Speaking of Marriage

Winifred M. Reilly, M.A., MFT

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