Infant And Toddler Stimulation At Home}

Submitted by: Krishna Mahathi

If we all could see the world through eyes of a child, we would see the magic in everything. Chee Vai Tang

Parenthood blesses you with anxiety .As parents we often want our children to have the best of the opportunities available to them but at the same time we do not want to go all overboard. Child care sometimes appears to be an awesome, innovative industry and the creativity explored and expressed here is amazing. Play gyms, bouncers, teethers and safety equipment, they keep getting makeovers that really creditable. We have play and music sessions from international banners like Gymboree and Musical Bonding. We have compilations of sacred chants and devotional music played out to our babies along with nursery rhymes. Mother toddler programs are being popularised as a prelude to playgroups. We have books on raising smart babies and websites devoted to child rearing education. Yet there are instances when we are compelled to ask ourselves if all this is overrated. Therefore I wish to share some of the insights I have gained raising my daughter considering myself to be a well informed parent.

As a doctor, I knew that supplemental sensory stimulation in any or all of the sensory modalities (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell and balance) is advised as a therapeutic intervention to compensate for the lack of a normal or typical environment providing sensory stimulation or in the presence of atypical environmental sensory stimulation. For example, infants born prematurely or those hospitalized in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) are exposed to high levels of intense and aversive sensory impulses related to necessary medical care (e.g., heel pricks and injections).Besides, the general NICU environment (e.g., lights and alarms) is far from conducive to a smooth transition from the mothers womb. Furthermore, these sick infants do not receive the same caregiver stimulation and interaction that healthy full-term infants generally receive from their parents in the home environment. In such a scenario stimulation is definitely beneficial. Babies being raised in stressful situations like foster homes or those having endured a prolonged illness show a lot of progress with additional stimulation.

But I wondered if it was really necessary to put such efforts for a baby with no risk factors suggesting developmental problems. And I learnt that it is worth the investment because it definitely enhances the close and loving relationship between you and your baby.


I also discovered that you dont need too much of special equipment to do it. Choosing toys and playthings sensibly is enough. Many branded cute toys are space consuming and difficult to clean. They may not be a sensible investment considering the fact that babies explore an object by putting it in their mouths first. For the same reason I had to curb my urge to make toys at home. I learnt that a lot of intricate details are looked into during manufacturing right from the material chosen to the finishing. Appropriate toys ca easily fit into a reasonable budget if we think a little. We ourselves are interesting toys for our kids!

Specialised stimulation programs are forward looking but you really dont benefit too much if travelling time is more or the class hours clash with your childs meals or naptime. Do not feel guilty about stopping the sessions if they do. They will be counterproductive. Learn the essence and use every opportunity you get to let your baby explore his world.

A fathers involvement is just as important as a mothers.

Take time off every day to enjoy your baby and give the child the responsive attention and affection he asks for. He cannot manipulate or control you. Unconditional love allows for the creation of strong self-esteem and increased development of brain circuitry. Communicating and responding without hesitation is vital even if you wonder how much your baby understands.

Giving your baby a massage does more than give him good sleep. Of all the sensory experiences, touch is how infants first know they are loved. It is the source of comfort. Being held is reassuring in the face of strangeness. In the womb babies are massaged as a result of the mothers physical mobility and movements. Infants need this continued experience to grow. Touch is a vital nutrient for both the brain and the body.

Infants have a biological need and desire to learn, this being prime time for the developing brain which undergoes an intense period of growth and network building. While stimulation at this time is a brief but unique opportunity to help encourage the formation of brain circuitry, the most important thing I have discovered is that every child has his or her own temperament just like us adults. It is really important to sense that. Babies interact, respond and adapt with the environment based on its synchrony with those traits. Some babies like to be rocked, some resent being cuddled. Many of them dislike a change in their routines. They should not be labelled difficult.

My little girl enjoyed kangaroo care and so my husband and I carried our daughter in a sling. Contrary to the consequences we were warned about she is not a clingy child and she walked on time. I believe that our response to her need for warmth has sort of relaxed and reassured her. I learnt quite early that my daughter was a visual learner and we put up wall dcor and pictures all over the house. It has helped us curtail her wails, distract her tantrums and kindle her imagination. The panda over the sofa, monkeys on the bathroom door and butterflies on the mirror are totally worth it.

My daughter did not reach any milestone before time and doesnt show signs of extraordinary intelligence. But she is very good at communicating her needs. She is very receptive to new concepts and experiences. I thoroughly enjoy her company and cherish the quality time I have spent with her. I know for sure that interesting stimulation can enhance curiosity, attentiveness, concentration and love of learning in the growing infant and toddler.

About the Author: Dr. Krishna Mahathi holds diplomas in Pediatrics and in the management of allergies and asthma. Years of working and interacting with children and parents have given her insight into developmental disabilities. She wishes that there was more awareness and acceptance of the issues that differently-abled children face and hopes that through this blog, she can enable thse children and their families to make sensible and informed choices.


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