I love babies and I have to confess, my heart gets touched big time when I see fathers walking their babies or toddlers in their prams or strollers. I regularly see a grandfather strolling at a snail’s pace, pushing a mysterious grandchild in a large pram. He nods politely but I’ve often wondered if he felt that if he rushed, he might jar the baby awake as he keeps the pace even when rain threatens and it is sprinkling. And for all I know, he could be pushing a large watermelon in that pram as I’ve never seen the bub to date. He always has a muslin cover over the pram, but what a lovely grandfather he is to do this regularly and with such patience!
What is astounding at times however, is the opportunities that the fathers and at times, mothers, are ‘wasting’ in not interacting or conversing with the child! You have a captive audience parents, why not make the most of it! I have to admit, I feel crestfallen when I see a parent reading or talking on their mobile or cell phone while automatically pushing the pram and not taking that opportunity to engage with their child.
We have heard often enough that a baby’s brain is like a sponge that is ready to soak up information as fast as it can, so, when scientists point out that 90 percent of the brain develops within the first five years of a child’s life and triples in weight by three years of age, we as parents, need to take note! Would you also believe, billions, that is, not hundreds or thousands, or even millions, but billions of nerve connections or synapses are established in that time frame and these nerve connections are twice that of any adult? It is therefore imperative to stimulate and engage your child within those first three years of their life.
Remember folks, we are always being advised that ‘communication’ is the key! So go ahead and talk to your child! Babies love being engaged in conversation and happily interact with any adult who will smile and spend the time talking to them. They will giggle, laugh and coo whenever someone plays ‘peek-a-boo’ or recites a nursery rhyme with actions with them.
I would often sing nursery rhymes while pushing the stroller or comment about the butterfly on the flower; the bird singing somewhere in the bush; the fluffy clouds overhead; the train travelling past in the distance or even the sound of a truck braking. My face would be animated as I would enthuse, ‘wasn’t that a noisy truck or listen to the call of that whipbird.’ My baby would listen intently absorbing the words, the enunciation, the expression and my enthusiasm.
And in the words of neurobiologist Martha Pierson, of the Baylor College of Medicine, ‘Children need a flood of information, a banquet, a feast!’ What exactly is she implying? She is encouraging adults to bombard and engage the mind of a baby with sounds, facts, figures, fiction and definitely, fantasy.
Sing to them, tease their minds with nursery rhymes, drive their imagination with tales of fantasy, and tickle their sense of humour with nonsensical poems and comedy. And all that can be done on the daily or weekly walk in their pram!
© Wendy Robinson September 2015
When you hold your baby in your arms for the first time, and you think of all the things you can say and do to influence him, it’s a tremendous responsibility. What you do with him can influence not only him, but everyone he meets and not for a day or a month or a year but for time and eternity. ~ Rose Kennedy
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