Caring for your child: 0 – 3 months
Baby brain fact Your baby’s brain is growing and changing every day from the moment of birth, and as the father you can stimulate your child’s emotional, intellectual and psychological development.
Things to do:
Spend time as much time as you can with your baby. Hold, cuddle, talk and sing to him/her. Get used to the baby’s body and let the baby get used to your smell and touch. Massage, dress and wash the baby gently and learn to change his/her nappy. The importance of this cannot be over-stated. The more stimulation a baby receives, the more work his/her brain is doing, and the smarter and happier s/he will be. And the more you do this, the closer you will become. Even though it may seem like the baby is not understanding you, his/her brain is developing rapidly and absorbing everything you say and do
Gaze into your baby’s eyes
This stimulates your baby’s brain, prompting connections between brain cells. The more connections the brain makes, the faster and stronger the child’s development will be. You can make it easier for the baby by holding his/her hands still and hold the baby on your lap or on a table. Do this often, but only until the baby gets bored or tired. In the first twelve weeks you will need to be within 30cm of baby for his/her eyes to focus.
Touch and cuddle your baby
Touch is the most important way of communicating with your new born baby. It helps to keep him/her calm, and the baby is more relaxed and will absorb more when s/he is calm. Make a pouch or sling with a blanket, towel or scarf to carry the baby around.
Comfort your baby
Learn how to calm your baby down when s/he is upset. Even though the baby is tiny, s/he already has some things that s/he likes and some things s/he doesn’t; no two babies are the same, just as no two people are the same. Get to know your baby so that you can help calm him/her down when s/he is anxious.
Talk to your baby
Babies learn by copying others. Long before they try and say words, they watch people moving their mouths and experiment with their own.
Read to your baby
Even though the baby can’t understand the words, s/he is absorbing the sounds you are making.
Use a new word every day and repeat it often
Well before the baby’s first birthday s/he will start experimenting with sounds to make words. One way to help is to repeat words. It also helps to play with language, by using rhyming words or simple songs.
Play music and sing
All babies respond to music, particularly singing. It can also calm or stimulate the baby. Singing and talking in a sing-song voice to babies is good for your baby’s development. Your baby will know your voice within a week if your contact with her/him is daily for a few hours, but it will take longer if it less consistent.
Put your baby where others can see it and it can see others.
Babies enjoy watching others and being watched, and this helps them learn.
Games to play
- Copy-cat: Give your baby things s/he can copy you doing (e.g. Stick out your tongue). Give him/her at least 30 seconds to copy as s/he will take time to work it out.
- Mirroring: copy your baby’s facial expressions but exaggerate them for his/her benefit.
- Light Seeking: baby can tell the difference between light and dark from birth and are often attracted to light. Walking in and out of different shades or colours of light will be interesting to baby.
Make a mobile that you can tie above the baby when s/he is lying down. Make sure that it is too high for the baby to touch but close enough to see. All you need is a straight stick or pipe, some string and some interesting shapes that will move easily, such as spoons, feathers, clean crisp packets, bottle lids or DVDs. Anything that attracts light and moves.