The skills that adults rely on to succeed in their personal and professional lives first develop during infancy. Parents can encourage the development of social, verbal and physical skills through the use of activities designed to stimulate their babies' natural desire to learn.
Infants benefit emotionally and physically from frequent contact, such as holding and cuddling. In addition to the baby's sense of security and self-esteem, these activities also help to develop his sense of touch. Other physical activities that can stimulate an infant's learning are rocking, swaying or swinging, which help develop his sense of balance and movement. Infants can also learn from the feel of certain materials and substances on their skin, such as drops of water, a cotton ball or a sponge. Babies find the feel of different textures engrossing and prefer a firm and gentle touch when the items caress their skin.
Gross and Fine Motor Development
Activities that focus on gross motor development require the baby to use her whole body. These activities, such as crawling, rolling, sitting and kneeling, develop the baby's control over multiple areas of her body at the same time. Fine motor development activities concentrate on teaching the baby how to use her fingers and hands. Activities such as pointing, placing and removing objects from containers, playing with building blocks, drawing lines and holding crayons, all help an infant develop fine motor skills.
Responding to a baby when he communicates through sounds, such as babbling and crying, provides a sense of security and helps stimulate his verbal development. If parents read to their infant from a book with pages bright enough to hold his attention, he will focus on the rhythm in their voices and later identify objects and understand that words have meaning. When parents respond to the infant's babble with sounds that are similar, he may not understand them, but he will begin to learn the words that will make up his speech in his later development.