When you hear talk about helping a baby’s early brain development, you might think that there are special ‘educational’ things that you have to do. But that’s not the case. A loving caregiver who is warm and attentive towards baby is perfect for helping a baby’s brain grow.
Learning through the 5 senses
A baby learns through their senses, by seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting. Let’s look at page 3 in the SKIP Whakatipu booklet Te Pihinga 1, where it explains how a newborn finds out about the world.
Ask the whānau:
- What has your baby heard or seen today?
- What have they smelled or tasted?
- What kinds of touch have they experienced?
- What are the everyday things that you do to care for baby? For example, bathing, feeding, changing nappies, dressing.
Building relationships, and baby’s brain
We might think of these as ‘just’ daily chores to get over and done with, or we can think of them as opportunities to grow baby’s brain and build our very important relationships.
Mums and dads are going to be doing these things anyway, so let’s make the most of them by turning them into brain-building time as we ‘feed baby’s mind’ via their senses.
‘Let’s think about how to turn routine tasks into rich and enjoyable learning moments. Let’s look at bathing, for example. What senses are involved and what is baby experiencing and learning?'
- Sight — What might baby see? - The water in the bath, a flannel, a towel, a bath toy, mum or dad? The most important thing for baby to see is the attentive, smiling face of the person who’s bathing them.
- Hearing — What might baby hear? - The sound of water, our voices as we talk about what’s happening, a squeaky bath toy, a bath song? Once again, it’s dads and mum’s voices — whether talking or singing — that baby will be most attracted to.
- Touch — What might baby feel? - Warm water, our hands, the flannel, soap, towel and maybe a lovely after-bath mirimiri/massage?
- Smell — What might baby smell? Soap, baby powder, baby oil or mum and dad’s scent?
Let’s think about other care moments and how you can make the most of them.
How does this topic relate to the SKIP resources?
Baby Wall Frieze - E aroha ana ahau ki te ako - I love to learn
Six things children need - Te mahi pono — ngā hua me ngā hapa - Consistency and consequences