LAST week, I continued with my perspective on the importance of and how to grow family love and laughter. My most important takeaway in raising our 16- and 13-year-old children is that building happy family memories since they were infants and toddlers paved the way for their emotional resilience today. I shared our various routine activities and adventures that I feel have gradually built the pillars of reference points for my children when they encounter difficulties in life. In the next coming weeks, I will share more age-specific tools and activities. This week, I will focus on parents with infants.
I remember after giving birth to my first baby, my main concern was how to produce enough milk for her. This meant me pumping every two hours over some weeks. Because I also knew I was going to be in business trips after my maternity leave, I also wanted to pump extra to be able to store enough milk. Since my whole day seemed to revolve around bathing, feeding and letting my baby sleep, I was trying to find a simpler way to inject developmental musts that I’d read. The SEL or Socio-Emotional Learning of my child has always been important for me. For my infant, my SEL goal was warmth, security and sensory development.
A “one solution” that I found for my infant was establishing routines while injecting play. According to Whattoexpect.com: “Routines are reassuring to babies and reinforce natural circadian rhythms, signaling that it’s time to go to sleep. A good baby bedtime routine might include a feeding with cuddles, bath, book, massage and lullaby. Abbreviate that routine (include just a book or a lullaby, for example) before naptime.” It also says that “babies feel comforted by the additional structure and rhythm of a rough daytime schedule, including the same waking time, nap times, feeding times and play times. A daytime routine can even make bedtime go smoother.”
According to the article “How Sensory Play Can Help Your Baby’s Brain Development” by Jackie Edwards: “Experts say that sensory play is important because play experiences, combined with the five senses, help build cognitive skills. Moreover, sensory play is the foundation of all the skills that your child will learn in school such as reading, writing, and solving math problems. Cognitive skills such as math skills begin to develop once your baby recognizes patterns. Meanwhile, science and technology skills develop once your child learns to observe and experiment with the things around him.” I observed how doing sensory development exercises, religiously for a year, resulted to my kids being more receptive to new knowledge. Moreover, it allowed me to also know my child’s personality and learning “style”. This was especially helpful when my children reached school age.
Below are some of the “Simplifying Parenting” ways of how I incorporated my breastfeeding, hygiene and play time into a healthy routine that I believe started my children’s loving and laugh-filled learning journey:
MORNING. After bathing, I felt that my baby was most alert, and I loved to sit with my baby under my nape or near my armpit, and I read a specific book. Then I would lay her on our bed and do some sensory exercises. My favorite was using musical toys or rattles that I would shake near each ear and see how she would turn her head toward the sound. I also loved how my baby’s eyes widened when I let her smell her baby shampoo or body wash. Then tummy time would be next. When my baby was able to sit on my lap or sit on her own, our favorite toy was wooden stacking blocks.
AFTERNOON. I used breastfeeding as a time to relax, and introduce my voice to my baby. I would play soothing classical music or audio books. Other times I would talk or sing to my baby. After feeding, I would do an “around the house” time where I would bring my baby around the house and point to the basic objects in a certain room. I would start with her room and point out five familiar things like her crib, blanket, bed, or baby bottle. After a month, I would change some things in the room and point out another five different things. I also did a song game where I would sing a rhyme like “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and we would shake the rattle every time the word “lamb” was mentioned.
EVENING. Sleep time is very important for infants so our evening ritual was “sacred”. It started with a nice bath time with a light massage on her feet. Then I would carry her to close the curtains and dim the lights. I read her a book, usually an SEL type of book about family love. Then I would play her constant classical music lullabies while rocking her to sleep in our rocking chair.
Image credits: Zach Lucero on Unsplash