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Parent’s Role In Fostering Baby’s Intellectual Development

Discussion in 'Parenting' started by priyabaghel, Oct 23, 2016.

  1. priyabaghel

    priyabaghel Silver IL'ite

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    Being a parent is a great responsibility. When we decide to create a new life, we embark on a new journey which requires a lot of time and effort. Raising a child has never been easy. Parents have a significant role in shaping their child’s emotional, physical and intellectual growth by the care and the opportunities to explore we give them in their early years of childhood. A healthy relationship between a parent and their child goes long way to establish a strong bond and development. One such area of development is the intellectual development of babies in which parents play a vital role by providing care, support and education. Intellectual development begins right when the baby is in womb and since then it continues to take place each day as the little ones explore the world.

    Intellectual development indicates a child’s readiness to learn new things, his problem solving abilities, his ability to think creatively, take decisions and being attentive and focused. It sounds a lot to happen and it happens gradually. Parents play the crucial role of shaping their child’s intellectual capacity by creating a favorable environment to learn and explore. The parenting style that a parent adopts also has a great impact on how the child will perceive things around him. Although it seems early, but the seeds of intellectual development should be sowed from birth. By the time the child is two years of age, most of the fundamentals are laid for sustaining a lifetime of learning. It is true that genetics play a vital role in determining child’s intellectual abilities; however, the importance of nurturing cannot be overlooked. A child’s intelligence is shaped by the various experiences he accumulates in life. It is being shaped everyday by external stimuli when he meets various people or sees new things. Nurturing has a deep effect on intelligence and it can be said nature and nurturing goes hand in hand. ‘Responsive’ parenting ensures that the child is heard, his needs are addressed and there is acceptance of the choices he makes for himself. This facilitates confidence in the child and with frequent positive experiences; the bond between parent and child becomes stronger.

    It is easier to see the physical development, but it takes effort to assess the intellectual development and can be seen in the form of baby’s new achieved abilities. In the first year of baby’s life, incredible growth takes place in baby’s brain. If proper stimulation is given at the right time, it boosts the intellectual development. Being a stay at home mom, I have been with my son 24*7 and have seen the wonders of responsive parenting.

    It’s a big ordeal to be born. Babies take their own sweet time to adapt to the new environment. I talked to my baby since the time when was within me. When he arrived, he was kept in NICU. When I went to meet him, he was crying; I went to him, stroked his forehead and spoke to him. To my surprise, he stopped crying and our eyes met for the first time. I don’t know how much he could see me, but he kept gazing at me. I felt wonderful as he responded to my voice, a feeling very special. We give much less credit to the babies for understanding what is going around them. I feel good to believe that they do! It seems like initial days are just about changing nappies, feeding around the clock and putting them to bed but the most development takes now and the effort that we take now, it shows later.

    started reading to my baby since he was just a month old. He would gaze at the colorful pictures for long as if he is grasping everything I am saying. As his eye sight improved, his eyes used to follow me across the room. We bought a play gym for him and gave him few minutes with it every day when he was awake and playful. He simply gazed at the toys, but as days passed by he started doing different activities with it. He tried grabbing, holding, banging and putting them in mouth. He could recognize sound of a particular toy and would look for it. Initially, it was ‘out of sight, out of mind’ but now he would hunt down his toys wherever you hide them (he is 8 months old). He has a keen eye and would observe where you hide a particular toy; he would remember it and go for it when he knows you are not looking at him. Such smart they grow in no time, I tell you! We talked to him just like we would talk among ourselves and he eventually started recognizing where the voice was coming from, later he could make out whose voice it is and now he even responds to his name.

    There is nothing called as over pampering and over loving when it comes to babies. Babies need love and touch all the time. They never outgrow the feeling to be close to you or to be held and cuddled. This is important for their emotional and social growth as well. Our efforts are rewarded when the baby starts smiling. They acknowledge our effort by smiling and protest any kind of over stimulation by crying or getting cranky. Babies tell us exactly how they feel even if they can’t talk. Once, we learn to understand the baby cues, life is pretty easy for us too.

    One of the major developmental milestones which they achieve around 4-5 months and which is also crucial for the intellectual development is to bring things to their mouth. Babies learn through their senses, and mouthing helps the baby know what are the texture, shape and taste of a particular object. A baby starts mouthing when he has growing interests in the surrounding and he learns in this process. By not letting baby put things into his mouth, we actually discourage their habit of exploring and learning. I clean his toys regularly and everything that my son wanted was given to him after washing. We gave him almost everything to feel and explore, from toys to leaves to various kind of food, by taking basic precautions of course .

    By 4 months, babies also get more observant and social. We took our son to parks, malls and everywhere else that we went. He met new people and liked to see their faces. My father takes my son for morning walks and he loves to see the vehicles passing by. He would see the young children going to school and at times, feed a piece of bread to the cow (if we see any). This was a usual routine. Soon that I realized, he started relating things. Every morning as he woke up, he knew that he has to go to his grandfather. He knew that we are going out if he sees his father taking out the car and would indicate us that he wants to go too. It is incredible how much they observe and learn and as parents, we just have to provide the right environment for our babies to learn; Creating an environment where our kids feel free to ask questions and their every ‘why’ is answered logically.
    Intellectual development also takes into its ambit, social and emotional development, fine and gross motor skills. It is a process where baby learns these skills. By 6 months, mouthing gets accompanied by banging and dropping things to see what happens by doing so. Babies also like to see and hear the same things again and again, so playing a same game or singing a same rhyme makes the baby remember it. I used to sing a particular song while putting my son to bed. Soon, he started associating the song with bed time and now all I need to put him to bed is to sing that song and no matter if I already sang it hundred times, my son still loves it.

    I was of the assumption that my boy is very social and loves to go to new people until he turned six months and stranger anxiety kicked in. He feels uncomfortable going to people at once and now very well distinguishes between family and strangers. The fascinating thing that I have observed is, if he is seeing someone for the second time, he does not get uncomfortable but tries to recall by gazing at the person for few minutes and then gradually becomes comfortable. Babies learn to imitate and love doing so. If I offer my phone to my son, he will take it to his ears because he sees us doing so. He takes the glass to his mouth when he sees us drinking. They also like to do something over and over again which they have learned recently. For example, my son loves to see my reaction when he drops something on floor or pulls my hair. He will keep doing it until he gets the desired response from me. Having said that, babies get distracted very easily and hence it is best if we let them focus on one thing rather than giving too many things at once.

    Although most of the development happens naturally and gradually, parent’s involvement in the process assures a great outcome. Even before a baby can see or grab toys, parents are the best toys that they have. It’s wonderful to spend as much time as you can and make the baby laugh and play with you. As we understand our baby’s growth, we will also understand what other activities are needed for further stimulation. Every baby is different and grow at their own pace. As parents, we can only foster their development and, take a back seat, enjoy seeing our little ones achieve age appropriate milestones. Is there any other delight for a parent?

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