SafeMotherhood
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Life with your baby

Encouraging your baby to learn

Having fun with your baby is how learning starts.

• Enjoy a 'conversation' at nappy-changing time.
• Try smiling, frowning, waving goodbye, and altering the tone and pitch of your voice.

Even very young babies respond by making a noise if you pause in your talk, especially if you use a higher pitch at the end of a sentence. Soon you'll be goo-gooing and gaa-gaaing happily and you won't even feel stupid. Babies measure their worth by the response of people looking after them. Let your baby know how special they are!

You can also develop your baby's senses when he or she is lying down by providing objects to look at that move and give a nice sound, for example, rattles, squeaky toys, a soft ball with a bell in it, bath toys and brightly coloured mobiles.

As babies can only focus at about 20 to 30cms, toys need to be within range of sight. Physical contact is also important in helping babies feel secure and trusting of other people: a crucial element in developing social relationships. Most babies like to be stroked, tickled, massaged and cuddled.

Babies also need opportunities to move in order to develop physically, so allow them to exercise their legs by letting them kick without a nappy on. Activity centres encourage babies to reach and swipe at things, trying to co-ordinate hand and eye until they can actually touch the object they are looking at.

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