Thursday, April 7, 2011

Baby Days - how can you stimulate a newborn?

When K was a newborn, I started reading  up on things you could do to stimulate a newborn.  Often I could find very little information. I'm not sure if there wasn't a lot out there or if maybe I just didn't know where to look because there seems to be a lot more just a few years later. I thought I'd share my list of some of the ides that worked for us. I'll probably remember a few other things later, & I'll add them if I do.

Some of this list will be common sense, but here are some of the things we did:

I was very determined to breastfeed -  here is that story:

We talked to K a lot, but we always waited for her to respond.  If she any kind of little noise we responded to it like she had very important things to say.

We sang to her.

When we carried her, we would dance, sway, spin in circles etc.   We gave her lots of vestibular stimulation, all the while carefully protecting her neck.

We explained things  a lot.  For example: "This is the kitchen where we eat dinner.", " That is our dog, Her name is Snowy"   "We are going to town to buy groceries to eat.", Often it was very simple things like these, but I think it really helped expand her knowledge & vocabulary.

When K's older sisters were newborns, we would very gently pat them dry after a bath.  With K, we were still gentle, but I patted, rubbed, & allowed her to feel a variety of different kinds of touch. 

We  had a bag of sensory objects that we would rub over K's body such as a smooth stone, a bath mitt, a piece of silky material or a piece of fun fur.  We also talked about water in her bath being warm or cool.

We did baby massage almost daily, using an organic, and edible oil so her body was not absorbing any toxins. We made sure we went over her whole body right down to her fingers and toes.  There are many  reason for doing massage, but a big one was to help her realize that she had hands, legs, etc.  The sooner she discovered her body, the sooner she could use it to become mobile.

We used sign language almost from day 1. I recommend at least a few very basic signs to allow your baby to make important requests for things like food & drinks, & more importantly, to let them realize that they have the ability to communicate See my earlier post My Views on Sign Language here:

We allowed K to look at simple black and white images and put some on the ceiling or the wall beside her bed for her to look at if she happened to be awake in her bed. We made sure to change her crib toys often so she always had something new and stimulating to look at.

We played classical music such as Mozart and Bach.

We talked about sounds we heard in the environment, "Oh, did you hear the dog bark?".

We also talked about things we smelled, " Oh, can you smell the pretty flowers?"

K did a lot of tummy time. At first she hated it. The whole family was involved in getting down on the floor with her and encouraging her to stay on her tummy longer. As she got older, we read books played with toys and did anything else we could think of to encourage her to spend increasing amounts of time on her tummy.

We almost always dressed K in comfortable clothing that allowed her to move easily.  We did not swaddle her unless we felt she needed it for comfort, again, so she could move easily.

She began sleeping on her tummy at quite an early age, likely because of all the tummy time,  and although, the common belief is that babies are safer on their backs, it is pretty hard to argue with a baby who insists on sleeping on their tummy and instantly rolls over when placed on their back. Ever since K started sleeping in her crib, we have used a mattress cover that is supposed to prevent SIDS and after some more researching I became more comfortable with her sleeping on her tummy. In hindsight, I actually really appreciate it for the core strength benefits.

We tried not to use any sort of device such as bouncy chairs, swings or even strollers any more than necessary. we substituted tummy time wherever possible. We carried K as much as possible rather than use a stroller because being carried necessitates use of some muscles to help balance and allows for a lot more social interaction.

As I said earlier, tummy time was a high priority, however, we made a few exceptions. Supper time is family time and we wanted K to be a part of this. As an infant, we would set her in a bouncy chair in the middle of the table so she could be an active participant - carefully supervised of course - you never know when a baby will surprise you! As her strength increased we used a Bumbo chair, but again, these were the rare exception to our "no baby devices" rule. We also used the Bumbo chair when eating out and set it right in the middle of the table. We really tried to let her experience everything.

We stimulated K's vision by  moving interesting toys with contrasting colors back & forth for her eyes to follow.

We encouraged K to hold onto our fingers & eventually her strength increased enough that she was able to hang from our thumbs.

Winter can be very cold here. At times, all of my babies had to have a blanket over their infant carrier because the air was just to cold for them. I never gave this a 2nd thought with my older kids, however with K I was very conscious of only using a blanket when necessary. I was also careful to choose blankets with stimulating patterns and made sure the pattern was on the inside so she could enjoy it. We always had toys on her car seat handle and made sure we changed them often.

We did not learn about crawling tracks until K was a little older.  Otherwise we would have started that right away too. We did start using it around 6 months, if I remember correctly, & K was crawling independently by 8.5 months. Here is a link to my earlier post on crawling tracks:

Lastly, down time is also important.  Although we were careful to stimulate K as much as possible, we tried to respond to her cues when she had enough too.  Everyone needs down time and we really tried to respect K's need for it.

Wow!  that list looks long, now that I've typed it out!   It looks like a lot, but most of things things just fit into our day.


  1. Tummy time and tons of family interaction. Doesn't get better than that. I too put my son on his stomach as much has possible, including sleeping on his stomach. We also built a crawling track and started that at about 2 months. I am convinced that it was these things that helped him build up the muscles to be crawling (on hands/knees, not just army crawling) at 7 1/2 months.

    I have also repeated the same poem (hey diddle diddle) to him from the first week every single day. Now I am to the point where I say a line except for the last word and wait for him to make a sound (any sound). This makes it an interactive vocal exercise and he does great at it and loves it.

    I didn't do enough of the hanging. We're catching up on that now.

    Great blog!

  2. I like the way you talk about this point. This was thought out and put together. A lots blogs talk about nothing exist on the net.

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