BIRTH TO 6 MONTHS

BASIC ACTIVITIES

• Breastfeeding is nature’s plan but is not always possible.
• Ask your specialist for advice on formulas.
• Feed your infant from both the right and left side if bottle feeding.
This is important to stimulate each side of your infant’s
body and allow each hand to open and shut as it grabs at the
mother’s breast and clothing.

Lifting infant to lie on his back

Pick your infant up so his headrests in the crook of your arm, first one side
and then the other. Repeat three to five times.

Lifting infant to lie on his front

Try the same with your infant lying on his front across your arm, looking
downward.

Lifting infant to sitting position

Have your infant sitting on one arm while holding his back firmly against
you with your other hand.

Lay infants on their fronts (when awake) as soon as possible after
birth—some say five days—so they become accustomed to this
position, which enables the repetitive “wriggling” reflex of newborn
infants. This is very important for overcoming the primitive,
involuntary survival reflexes of infancy. Front lying also strengthens
the infant’s neck, which is vital for the overcoming of the primitive
reflexes, allowing the development of voluntary movements of
infancy.

HELPING YOUR INFANT’S DEVELOPMENT

• The hearing pathways are more mature at birth than the visual
pathways.
• While your infant is asleep, play low-volume music or nature sounds.
• Sing and move to music—dance to the beat.
• All coordinated movements require rhythm and stimulate speech and
language.
• Every day, read simple rhythmical stories and nursery rhymes with
repetitive language.
• Massage and exercise your infant slowly to enable the messages to be
absorbed through the central nervous system to the brain.

Infants love the soothing rhythmic movement of dance. This is both
massage and inner-ear (vestibular) stimulation. The basic elements
of dance are space, form, time, flow, rhythm, and emotional
response. Dancing with infants helps in the development of balance
and space and body awareness. Little ones under 2-3 months of age
do not have adequate neck muscles to lift their head, so support
the head in all activities for this age

Bonding

Massage, rock, and dance with your infant to develop bonding. Look
directly into his eyes as you talk lovingly and sing. Pat your infant to the
beat of your song. Be sure his cradle can be rocked.

INHIBITION OF THE PRIMITIVE REFLEXES

• Infants must learn about their bodies so they can move.
• Movement creates brain development and is the result of inborn
primitive reflexes (unconscious movements), which develop in early
pregnancy and are present at birth.
• Many reflexes are involved in a child’s development.
• Voluntary control of the primitive reflexes occurs through massage of
the skin and nerve endings under the skin in joints, muscles,
ligaments, and in the inner ear.

Worm squirm

This primitive reflex is present before and after birth to 3-4 months of age.
It is vital to future development.
All parents have seen their infant (when on his front) “squirm” forward.
By the age of two, a toddler can be asked to be a worm wriggling along to
improve awareness of each side of his body.

Bouncing and swaying

From four weeks of age, lay your infant on his front, holding him firmly
under his chest, and encourage him to lift his head to strengthen his
neck and shoulder muscles. This will help him gain voluntary control over
the primitive reflexes, which are influenced by head movement. Bounce
and sway.

MASSAGE, MASSAGE, MASSAGE . . .

Start massage as soon as possible after birth.
• At birth your infant sees, hears, and feels, but does not understand.
• There are no set rules: follow your instincts and his reactions.
• Sing and smile while you gently stroke and squeeze him.
• He needs to be without clothing and lying on a warm towel.
• Ensure the lotion, your hands, and the room are warm.
• Be gentle, and always support the head when rolling him over.

Whole body relaxation

Put your child on a slightly inflated big beach ball. Gentle
bouncing of the ball will create full relaxation. Move his arms in
and out very slowly and gently, then move the legs up and down.
Finally, play gentle pull-ups to create some muscle tone. Support
his head and neck. These actions will massage his ligaments and
muscles.

Massage body front and back

With a circular clockwise movement, massage the stomach, then slide your
hands down the sides from the waist. With the infant on his front, stroke the
whole body, then roll him over supporting the head. With slow circular
movements, continue down his spine and back. Use a light playful pinching
action over the buttocks.

The brain controls learning. Nature has provided a superb
predictable, sequential series of movements to help brain
development. By two months of age you can use more materials,
and vary the massage, such as tapping with fingers.

. . . AND MORE MASSAGE

• Use a light touch and at other times deep firm strokes or squeezes.
• Start with blowing fun, by gently blowing their palms and other body
parts. They love this gentle feeling all over their bodies.
• Music, humming, and singing is food for the brain and the ears.
Make up a song that identifies the body parts. Rhymes provide the
the rhythm of the music.


Massage head and chest


Light massage provides delicate touch and movement stimulation to
the nerve endings. Massage stimulates awareness of body parts.
Start with long flowing strokes from head to toes. Trace circles gently on
the head. Enclose the head with both hands, and gently massage the scalp.

Stroke gently down the face, stroking eyes and nose with the fingers. Stroke
from the rib cage out across the shoulders, and downward.

Massage the arms

Start with whole-body strokes. Massage from hands to the shoulder—then
hands, individual fingers, and palms.

Massage legs and feet

Use the thumb to massage over the top of the foot, then toward the ankles.
Roll and squeeze each toe.

GENERAL INFANT ACTIVITIES

• While feeding your child, encourage the grasping and sucking reflex
that causes the opening and closing of the hand as he sucks. If
remnants of this reflex are still present at school age, handwriting
problems may occur.
• If bottle-feeding, change sides from right to left as you would if
breast-feeding, so that both sides of his body get movement
stimulation.

Leg and tummy development at 2-3 months

Lift the legs by lifting the infant’s buttocks. The infant will flex the legs
upward; lower him and the legs will straighten. This strengthens the tummy
muscles for later movements.

Be gentle—these activities must not cause crying! Do not become a
victim of infant tyranny. Hold your infant gently but firmly, and give
support especially around the neck and head area. Poor muscle tone
frequently equals poor coordination, as the body parts cannot put
movements together! Rocking stimulates the organs of muscle tone
and balance, as well as strengthening neck muscles for the head control.

Rocking sideways

Gently rock your child on his back from side to side. He will
move his head accordingly. Do not turn him more than 45
degrees.

INFANT EXERCISES


Lying on the front strengthens the infant’s head, neck, and shoulder
muscles, vital for overcoming primitive reflexes. If your infant has
sucking difficulties, be guided by your lactation specialist. If he is
put on to formula, watch for any unsettled crying or skin rashes, in
case his constitution objects to the formula.

Gentle turnovers

With your infant on his back, turn him gently by bending one leg up (his
arm on the same side will swing over across his chest), then gently push the
leg by the bent knee over and across the body. He will lift his head slightly,
strengthening the neck muscles. Turn him in this way, from back to front
and back again slowly, several times. Place your right hand gently under his
head for support.

Arm movements

Slowly move arms up and down together and alternately in and
out, as above. This is also suitable for month-old infants.

Pushaways with infant on his back

Use the palms of your hand or a rolled cloth to activate the reflex stretch of
one leg and then the other. Press against the foot with a gentle force, to
make him push your hand away.

These exercises aim to relax the limbs of infants and develop muscle
tone and body awareness. Ensure the limbs are fully extended but
do not force. Exercises should be done slowly and gently.

Rocking back and forth

Rock your infant forward and back (for children aged 2-3
months). The aim is to allow him to hold his head up, but support
it if necessary—do not allow it to flop.

Swinging and swaying

Make a hammock swing, with one person holding each end of a blanket.
Place your infant in the hammock and sway him to and fro.

FLOOR PLAYTIME

Infants who are unsettled often have eczema, skin rashes, constipation,
diarrhea, repeated ear infections, tonsillitis, or respiratory infections.
Ask advice from your medical professionals or infant welfare
specialists.


Try these activities to strengthen your infant’s neck muscles, gently
and just a few times right after diaper-change time, as your baby is
already on her back.


Without good muscle tone in the neck area, the unconscious reflexes
of nature, which stimulates initial movement and development in
infants, handicap the neck in its ability to function.

Pushaways with infants from four weeks of age, on their front

Place your infant on his front with your hand against both feet with the legs
bent. He will push and move away from your hand on his tummy. This is
the beginning of moving forward on his front (crawling).

The push works best when the legs are only slightly bent. Try this for ½-1 minute.
Little and often is best.

Rolling over and back

Play with your infant on the mat. With eye-tracking, the sooner he can turn
his head, the sooner visual tracking begins. Rattles are great for
encouraging head-turning.

The main aim is to encourage head-lifting, to strengthen his neck muscles.

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