bond with baby

Development & Learning

Be Baby's Most Effective Teacher

BabyThe Bond With Baby program details the crucial role that parents play in nourishing their baby's wellbeing and development; what it means to bond with baby, how this occurs and the developmental outcomes that parents' loving relationship has on the baby's future. Encompassed in this is the influence that parents have on their baby's development and learning via the nurturing environment they create.

From the moment they are born babies take in information from every interaction, every experience they encounter. This information is constantly being processed in the brain, and continues to be expanded on through the stimulation of parents' sensitive and responsive interactions and their encouragement. Not only does such nurturing enhance babies' sense of security enabling them to fulfil their curiosities but it also sets a path for the development of their future competence in negotiating 'their world'.

Babies' learning and development of skills is continual (discussed in detail in this sections topics). As they interact in a stimulating environment babies discover their own actions and the 'workings' of objects through play (see Let's Play for detailed information). As finely tuned social and emotional little beings, babies' development and learning also occurs by watching and listening to the people around them (predominantly parents as the main caregivers). From their observing, babies learn to repeat behaviours and actions, which are reinforced with adults' praise. This type of learning is known as imitation. Examples of this are a baby mimicking sounds such as a 'pretend' cough or learning to clap hands, wave goodbye and to blow a kiss. When the baby 'performs', his audience (usually Mum/Dad) praises his efforts, reinforcing his achievements with comments such as, 'Oh, that's a funny cough' or 'Look at these clever clapping hands'!

A note about imitation: You may be interested to know that there is some scientific evidence showing that newborn babies can imitate adults' facial gestures of opening their mouths and sticking out their tongues. Not only does this suggest that babies are born to take in all types of information around them but reinforces how influential parents and other people are in their lives - even to the point of learning to stick out their tongues!

So as a parent, you are your baby's most effective teacher, providing him with the fun of play and guiding him safely through his learning experiences that will lead him to mastery. Your teachings begin simply with Baby through the stimulation of your interactions and communication - talking, singing and using rhythmical movement, your gaze, smiles and laughter, your use of gentle touch. Baby will enjoy you introducing him to his home environment, building on his sense of security. This can be as easy as talking with Baby as you look and listen to what is going on around, walking him about outside as you watch the leaves move in trees and smell the flowers, watching and listening to the birds. (When my boys were babies we lived in a flight path of aircraft in Sydney. Planes were a great source of fascination and a distraction during grizzly moments ... and were the first things they learned to point to outside ... and 'plane' was one of the first words they spoke).

Note: You may have heard of the term hot-housing, which refers to pressuring or 'pushing' children into learning before they are developmentally ready for it. An example of this could be parents attempting to create a super-baby by teaching her to 'parrot read' single words before she has developed other major milestones that will actually assist her further development. Educational research has found that such children are likely to suffer undue stress and behaviour problems as they develop into their preschool years and beyond. By the time they reach early adolescence they are less resilient (less able to cope with life) and are more likely to be stressed, leading to possible depression.