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How to Encourage Infant Development

Learn how to encourage your infant's development from pediatrician Dyan Hes, M.D. in this Howcast video about newborn and baby development.


Dr. Hess: So parents always ask me. Dr. Hess, what can I do to teach my baby? What can I do to educate my baby and make my baby develop better? So for the first few months of life just stimulating your baby by talking to your baby or singing to your baby. Holding your baby that's what your baby needs. Your baby looks around and learns from the environment. Between four and six months of age your baby might want to be interested in playing on a play mat. So they like to hear a rattle. At four months a baby brings a rattle to near its face.

And like chew on it and they love that. At six months of age a baby starts becoming interested in peek-a-boo or patty cake. And those kinds of games babies really like until nine months of age. Between six and nine months of age babies love to throw toys off of their high chair and then laugh. They don't realize that they're not coming back to them. They don't have object permanence. So you will continuously have to be picking things up off the floor. They don't understand that it's not going to come right back to them. Babies like music.

When they're sitting they like to hold books and look at books. When they're a little bit younger you know at one month and three months of age they like the black and white books because they really just see contrast. So that's what the babies like to look at. And as they get older they're more interested in the pictures. I always say that if you're doing something it could be so boring to you, but it's interesting to a baby. So if you're holding say this is a red book. If you're you know talking a walk say look at the trees look at the flowers. What color are the leaves? The world is really what the baby needs as stimulus. As the baby gets older the baby might need more stimuli. Because they're becoming more social. So babies often like to be next to other babies. Whereas a six month old baby or a nine month old baby might play next to another baby. That's called parallel play.

At eighteen months they might want to actually start to play with another child. So babies love to be around other children. Some babies start going to daycare and school around this age. And its fine the babies love to be social. Between nine and fifteen months of age a baby might have stranger anxiety. This is normal and it's not something that you have to call your doctor. Babies are very attached to their parents and their families. So if a new friend comes over or a new babysitter and the baby doesn't want to separate from you and is very clingy, that's normal and it's not something to be alarmed about. Babies outgrow stranger anxiety as they older and what I encourage is that you do social activities with your child. Especially with a child who has stranger anxiety.

So they overcome their fear. A lot of parents ask me about television. So I think television is okay in moderation. You never want to use a television as a babysitter. Parents sometimes plop their kids down in front of the TV because it's easy. You have to take a shower you have make phone calls. You put your baby in a pack-n-play in front of the TV or in a bouncy seat in front of the TV. And that's fine if it's an educational show and they're watching it for a few minutes. But babies should not be sat in front of the TV for one or two hours at a time. They need development from the world not from the two dimensional picture of the screen.

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