A Family Love & Laughter "PLAY LIST": Infant Edition

My personal Infant PLAYLIST picks and activities: Socio-Emotional Books like "I Love You All Day Long"; My son Marcus as an infant always has books in his stroller as the default activity; I read "Look Who's Talking On the Farm by Danny Tepper to my daughter for a whole year as our morning routine.  She still keeps the book today; Safe musical toys with real sounds are our after-bath routine; My god daughter Morgan with a wooden stacking toy, which I strongly recommended to stimulate both her sense of sight and touch.

Last week I continued my perspective on the importance and on how to grow family love and laughter.  My most important takeaway in raising our 16 and 13-year old children is that building happy family memories since they were infants and toddlers paved the way for their emotional resilience.  I shared our various routine activities and adventures that I feel has gradually built the pillars of reference points for my children when they encounter difficulties in life.  In the next coming weeks, I will share more age-specific tools and activities.  This week, I will focus on parents with infants.

I remember after giving birth to my first baby, my main concern was how to produce enough milk for her.  This meant me pumping every 2 hours in the next weeks.  Because I also knew I was going to be in business trips after my maternity leave, I also wanted to pump extra to be able to store enough milk. Since my whole day seem to revolve around bathing, feeding and letting my baby sleep, I was trying to find a simpler way to inject developmental musts that I read.

The SEL or Socio-Emotional Learning of my child has always been important for me. For my infant, my SEL goal was warmth, security and sensory development.

A "One Solution" that I found for my infant was establishing routines while injecting play. According to whattoexpect.com, "Routines are reassuring to babies and reinforce natural circadian rhythms, signaling that it’s time to go to sleep. A good baby bedtime routine might include a feeding with cuddles, bath, book, massage and lullaby. Abbreviate that routine (include just a book or a lullaby, for example) before naptime." It also says that, "Babies feel comforted by the additional structure and rhythm of a rough daytime schedule, including the same waking time, nap times, feeding times and play times. A daytime routine can even make bedtime go smoother."

According to the article, “How Sensory Play Can Help Your Baby’s Brain Development” by Jackie Edwards, Experts say that sensory play is important because play experiences, combined with the five senses, helps build cognitive skills. Moreover, sensory play is the foundation of all the skills that your child will learn in school such as reading, writing, and solving math problems. Cognitive skills such as math skills begin to develop once your baby recognizes patterns. Meanwhile, science and technology skills develop once your child learns to observe and experiment with the things around him.” I observed how doing sensory development exercises, religiously for a year, resulted to my kids being more receptive to new knowledge. Moreover, it allowed me to also know my child’s personality and learning “style”.  This was especially helpful when my children reached school age.

Below are some of my "Simplifying Parenting" ways of how I incorporated my breastfeeding, hygiene and play time into a healthy routine that I believe started my children's loving and laugh-filled learning journey -

MORNING - After bathing, I felt my baby was most alert, I love to sit my baby under my nape or near my armpit, and read 1 specific book.  Then I would lay her on our bed and do some sensory exercises.  My favorite is using musical toys or rattles that I would shake near each ear and see how she turns her head towards the sound.  I also loved how my baby's eyes widened up when I let her smell her baby shampoo or body wash.  Then tummy time would be next.  When my baby was able to sit on my lap or sit on her own, our favorite toy is wooden stacking blocks.

AFTERNOON - I used breastfeeding as a time to relax, and introduce my voice to my baby. I would play soothing classical music or audio books.  Other times I would talk or sing to my baby.  After feeding, I would do an "Around-the-House" Time where I would bring my baby around the house and point to the basic objects in a certain room.  I would start with her room and point out 5 familiar things like her crib, blanket, bed, or baby bottle.  After a month, I would change the room and point out another 5 different things in that room.  I also do a song game where I sing a song like Mary Had a Little Lamb and we shake the rattle every time the word "lamb" is sung.

EVENING - Sleep time is very important for infants so our evening ritual is "sacred".  It starts with a nice bath time with a light massage on her feet.  Then I carry her to close the curtains and dim the lights. I read her a book, usually an SEL type of book about family love.  Then I play her constant classical music lullaby while rocking her to sleep in our rocking chair.

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