Welcoming your newborn is always an exciting period, full of preparations and deciding what will be the very best for them. Given that the earliest stages of our lives influence our later development, parents put a lot of effort in creating a stimulating and nurturing environment for their little ones.
Before listing the practical ways of creating a stimulating environment for your baby, we would like to accent the importance of the parent-baby relationship in the early stages of development. One of their first stimulations will be the sight of your face, the sound of your voice and the touch of your skin. Their whole world will be revolving around you. A consistent, loving relationship is the base for your baby’s future development. Making them feel safe and loved will give them the freedom to explore and learn about the world around them.
Baby-proofing the room
One of the first things couples do after finding out they are expecting is baby-proofing the baby’s room. Before decorating and filling the room with highly stimulating props, making the room safe for exploration should be a priority. This includes guarding the sockets, any sharp edges, putting rails on the stairs, and putting away objects that could potentially be harmful. Creating several areas around the house where she or he can play freely while you look over them is important as well.
Playing with the colors in the room
After baby-proofing your baby’s room, it’s time for the fun part – decorating it. Babies are highly sensitive to contrast and bright colors at the early stages of their development, so don’t be afraid to use several contrasting colors in your baby’s room. Green and blue shades will give a soothing effect to the room, and orange tones will secure a bright and happy day each morning.
Painting a simple mural, or applying a wallpaper with a simple design made out of contrasting colors will also help your baby learn how to focus. But, be careful – don’t use too strong of a contrast (eg. black and white), as it can lead to over-stimulation and a nervous baby.
A space to crawl, play and touch
When creating a play area for your baby, make sure to play with textures, colors, and materials. Exploring all of the surfaces will bring your baby joy and fuel them with a desire for further exploration of their play area. As they grow older and start to pull themselves up, it’s always a great idea to surround the play area with soft cushions and sofas, to encourage them to practice standing up and walking.
Filling the room with developmentally appropriate toys
The best toys for newborn babies are soft, made out of contrasting colors and several different textures so they can stimulate different senses. Stuffed toys that make sounds and mobiles that go over the crib are also great as they stimulate your baby’s hearing. As he or she develops, you will notice how they turn their head to specific sounds and are fascinated by them.
As they grow older, you should incorporate more age-appropriate toys, such as big building blocks that often come in bright colors, shape sorters, simple puzzles or even old magazines. All of this will help your baby learn how to focus and distinguish different colors and shapes. Hanging a mylar mirror will be interesting for your baby also – in the same way they are fascinated by their parent’s faces, they will be fascinated by their own as well.
When filling the room with toys, you want them to be organized well. Make sure that you choose boxes that aren’t full of sharp edges and have light lids that are easily removed. Create an open space for playtime and make sure there are no breakable objects near the play area. Pull the curtains up so your baby won’t grab onto them when trying to stand up. Creating a safe area for them to look outside the window can also be great for them to focus on the scenery and activity outside while they’re inside.
Listening to their needs
As we mentioned above, the most important thing for your baby’s future development is your contact with them. Do listen to their needs and cries. Sometimes they can get over-stimulated and fussy, so make a separate area for them where they can relax and just take a rest from the stimulating environment. Use relaxing, pastel colors such as light green, blue and eggshell. Nurture your play time with them and show consistency in doing that so they know it is a daily routine.
We must add that the most stimulating thing ever for your baby is none other than you. While all of the above-mentioned practices do help in creating a stimulating environment, your role is crucial. Singing, reading and playing music to your baby will be the best way to stimulate their hearing senses, as they are accustomed to your voice. So besides the importance of a safe environment for babies you should also focus on making them feel safe with their family.
Some experts have an opinion that babies are familiar with their mother’s voice even before they are born. Cuddling them, letting them feel your face and hair are great ways to stimulate their sense of touch. Nothing can replace the touch and love of the baby’s caregiver. Along with a stimulating environment, this will make them feel safe and ready to conquer new challenges.