Motor Skills & Hand-Eye Coordination
Well, maybe your baby won't become a genius, but I have a few tips and tricks to share that will help your little one develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination. According to age based milestones, my child shouldn't be able to grasp hanging toys just yet. That is supposed to happen between 4 and 8 months. However, Emma started grasping the toys hanging from her bouncer and play mat at just 2 weeks into her 3rd month.
Babies typically start batting at toys at 3 months. Emma (probably on accident) started very early. I am a high school teacher by trade and have no experience teaching babies or small children, but I do know that positive reinforcement is a fantastic teaching method. I thought I would try it with Emma even though she's "supposed" to be too young to accomplish certain tasks. As soon as I saw that first attempt at batting the little hanging hippo, I kissed her little hand and made lots of high pitched, excited sounds. Then, I took her hand and held it to the hippo a few more times, kissing her hand each time. Once we practiced a few times, she began swatting at it frequently. Every time I saw her doing it, I would kiss her hand and praise her. After a day or two, she was batting at every hanging toy she could find. it was only a couple of weeks before she was able to grasp them. Of course, upon her first grasp, the kisses and praise were abundant. Now, she is much more skilled at grasping than before, but she still has a few more days to go before reaching 4 months of age and is learning to do new things every day. Positive reinforcement is the key.
As I am an English teacher, and a total dork, I've been reading to Emma since she was born. Every time we turn a page, I take her hand and ask her to help me. I know she has no idea what I'm talking about and can't actually turn pages, but a few weeks ago, she started doing it on her own. Maybe it's a total fluke, and she is just swatting at the pages, but she turns them in right direction and stops once a new page appears. I used the same technique with the page turning as I did with the grasping. She receives lots of praise and little hand kisses. : )
You can also use positive reinforcement to help your baby develop and understand language. Most babies know what Mommy or Daddy means right away because of the repetition and consistency in faces. You can use repetition to teach other words very early as well. Another word Emma recognizes is "kisses". Obviously, Emma receives lots of kisses from her mommy and daddy. This sounds really silly, but in her 2nd month, I would ask her if she wanted "some kisses" and make kiss sounds. I follow up with a kiss on the cheek. We repeat this pattern numerous times a day, and now, she starts smiling and bracing for impact at the sound of the word alone. Because of the repetition in sounds and actions, she is able to recognize the word. If you're diligent in practicing, you could do this with any object or action. : )
I know most of what I'm saying is common sense, and this next one is definitely obvious, but it never hurts to have a reminder. : ) Repeat what your baby "says" to you. As soon as Emma started making noises, I repeated them back to her so she would know that there is some sort of purpose for all of these sounds. Now, we have conversations every day. I may have even created a monster. She probably spends a total of 4 hours a day babbling.
*** Just be careful not to repeat incorrect words when your child is actually speaking and forming sentences. When toddlers are learning vocabulary, they think they say words correctly but will naturally miss a pronunciation here and there. Adults think it's cute when little kids say things incorrectly, so they copy the child. This can be confusing for the child who is learning the words and thinks he or she is saying them the right way. If the child hears you copying the incorrect pronunciation, he or she tries to copy you again and the correct pronunciation is lost. *** I learned this during my short time as a psychology major at IU.