Developing Your Own Infant Curriculum

Enhance your baby's development with an infant curriculum. Choose age appropriate activities to stimulate the senses and spur motor development.

Infants are learning at a rate even faster than older kids! New wonders catch their eyes every day. To maximize this learning potential, create your own infant curriculum. This curriculum doesn't have to be formal. Just spend some time every day doing appropriate activities with your baby.

The newborn baby is learning about his senses and his place in the world. Sensory stimulation activities are appropriate for all babies, but especially for those who have been through a difficult birth or may have other problems.

Appropriate visual stimulation includes brightly colored toys, mirrors (unbreakable!), and bold black and white patterns. Draw a bold black smiley face on a white card and cover it with clear contact paper. Do the same with a black and white checkerboard design and a bullseye design. Place these cards at the sides of the crib while the baby is propped on her side. As she looks at the designs, her eyes are growing stronger.

A hanging rattle is a good auditory stimulation activity. A baby as young as two weeks old will kick at a rattle hung just above his feet. This activity helps the little one learn to listen. He realizes that he can make noises himself and tries again. Jingly socks or mittens can be used in the same way.

A musical mobile stimulates both the sight and the hearing. Many babies enjoy looking at and listening to a mobile while falling asleep.

In nice weather, take the baby for a walk in a stroller or carriage. Even a tiny baby will notice patterns of sunlight and shadow.

It's never to early to talk and sing to your baby. Mothers from all cultures naturally use a sing-song style of speech to talk to infants. Research has shown this to be exactly what the baby needs to hear. Sing lullabies or recite nursery rhymes as part of the infant curriculum.

Gross motor development before the age of 6 months consists mostly of learning to push up from the floor and to roll over. Have a time each day when the baby can lie on a blanket on the floor. Sit on the floor with her. Lay her on her tummy and get down in front of her to encourage her to push up. She will probably also learn to scoot across the floor at this time.

Peekaboo becomes a popular activity at about the age of 6 months. Through this game the child learns the complicated idea called "object permanence." Just because an item cannot be seen does not mean it no longer exists. Peekaboo gets tedious for parents, but it's a valuable and fun time for the baby. An annoying variation of peekaboo that every baby invents on his own is that of throwing an item off his high chair and expecting you to pick it up. Again he is learning that the object still exists even though he cannot see it.

Many toys are designed to aid the development of cognitive and fine motor skills. Ring stackers, for instance, require motor control and thinking to arrange the rings by size. Pop beads and peg pounders stimulate the hearing by creating satisfying noises. These toys become appropriate around the first birthday. Name colors and shapes while you play with your baby. Count objects up to three or four if the toddler seems interested.

Board books are a good addition to the infant curriculum. Get into the habit of having a daily story time. Right before the afternoon nap is a great time for stay-at-home parents, while bedtime may work better for working parents. In the early months, a reading session may only last a minute or two. Babies are often more interested in the book as a toy to fling or ruffle pages in. Be patient. Start with one or two pictures. Be consistent and that little one will soon love story time.

Before the age of one, the baby is learning to understand the things you are saying. For this reason, it's important that the atmosphere is quiet enough for you to be heard as you talk to him. At about the age of one, most babies say their first word. If you wish to try your hand at creating a baby genious, you can make flash cards of pictures of famous places, the presidents, or different animals. Some parents have taught their babies to verbally identify many different pictures. If it's fun for you and the baby, try it. Otherwise there is plenty of time for academic learning after the preschool years.

The main thing to remember when designing an infant curriculum is that the baby really needs time with you more than planned activities. Take time to enjoy those baby and toddler days that fly by so fast!

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