New parents quickly discover that every baby comes with unique personalities and preferences. Some babies are easy to get to sleep and some require a lot more help.
There are those who are easy to comfort or are really difficult to calm down. Others feed well and burp on command while some babies are fussy eaters and gassy. There is a HUGE range of normal in typical babies who are developing right on schedule.
Studies, personal experiences and clinical observations have demonstrated that there are certain things that support babies of diverse personalities and preferences reach their own level of optimal development.
The Benefits of Carrying Your Baby
Researchers have found that there is a direct link between how much a baby is carried and the amount of crying he or she does.
“The relative lack of carrying in our society may predispose to crying and colic in normal infants.” – Hunziker & Barr (1996)
The verdict: Babies who are carried more cry less.
Being carried also gives babies the chance to practice head and trunk control as they adjust to their care-givers movements. They learn to lean into the person holding them and they begin to understand social cues and rhythms as they interact with caregivers and other people in their environment.
Being carried in a car seat just does not provide the same opportunities! We have noticed that young babies who move from car to stroller to house in their car seats have less developed head and trunk control and may have delays in sitting balance. The good news is, there are many baby carriers on the market today making it easier to bypass countless hours in a car seat! Obviously, parents are more likely to use a carrier that feels comfortable for them. Babies seem to be pretty definite about the type of carrier they prefer too!
Find the one that works for you and your baby. Reviews by other parents are always helpful when trying to weed through the many options! (Heads up: We have a few affiliate links coming up!)
In our minds, these are some top picks!
- The Peanut Shell baby carrier
- The Boba Air Baby Carrier
- The K’tan Baby Carrier
Your Sustained Attention with Baby Builds His Attention Span Too
We know that life is busy. Being PRESENT is hard. In our technology filled world, there are distractions in the forms of rings, buzzes, and silent vibration everywhere! Unfortunately with all of this we see parents who are focused on their cell phones and missing opportunities to share the world with their babies. A recent study on the social origin of sustained attention found that when parents pointed out things in the environment and engaged their child in play, the child had longer attention spans and better focus.
“…some parents divide their child’s playtime between looking at their smart phone and nonchalantly engaging in play, which can reduce the child’s ability to pay attention in the long term”. – Chen Yu and Linda B. Smith (2016)
The study below found that children whose mothers were nurturing and playful during early development had more growth in the areas of the brain associated with learning, memory and managing stress.
So what does play look like with a young baby? Play can consist of whatever developmental skill the baby should be reaching for at his or her age. For example, a three month old is working on expanding visual coordination, so playing simple games that involve following a moving toy with her eyes would be a nice fit. We can also help the three month old gain head and trunk control by supporting her while sitting on a ball and slowly moving her side to side as she learns to remain sitting upright. It is important to look for STOP SIGNS for hints about when to discontinue play time to avoid fatigue and overstimulation. If you see any of the following in your baby, it’s time for a break.
Behaviors to watch for:
- averting her eyes or her head
- color change; reddening or blanching
- excessive, jerky movement of arms and legs
Finding comfortable connection and playful interaction with your baby is not only fun, but is an easy way to boost your baby’s brain growth, attention span and focus!
Hunziker, U. A., & Barr, R. G. (1986). Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics, 77(5), 641-648.
Luby, J., Belden, A., Harms, M.P., Tillman, R., Barch, D.M. Preschool is a sensitive period for the influence of maternal support on the trajectory of hippocampal development. PNAS Early Edition, April 25, 2016.
Yu, C., Smith, L. (2016). The social origins of sustained attention in one-year-old human infants. Current Biology, Vol. 26(9), pp.1235-1240.