Aria was 1 week old this week. We are using the early learning / infant stimulation program outlined in How Smart is Your Baby by Glenn Doman.
We had a good, laid-back week. I managed to get a little bit of school work done with my older boys, and Aria had a good week with her early learning program.
I love how simple the early learning program is at this stage. It takes so little time, so little effort, and is quite enjoyable. It really just involves decorating the environment with baby-appropriate patterns, doing tummy time, talking to her, and a couple playful activities (balance & reflex stimulation) that take a few seconds during her awake time.
I love being able to provide her with an environment that is intentionally growing her brain, rather than an environment where her brain is being stimulated on accident, by chance, and as a product of happenstance rather than planning.
She slept a lot this week, as I suppose most 1-week-olds do. She has been sleeping particularly well at night time and late into the morning, giving us a late start to the day, but I have been well-rested! I do hope that she continues to be a great sleeper.
This is what our early learning program looked like this week:
- We introduced the crawling track (homemade version of this)
- Started flashlight stimulations (to cause pupils to dilate & constrict, growing vision)
- Started doing vestibular (balance) stimulation activities
- Added new visual stimulation (these patterns hung up around the bed)
- Started reciting poetry verse (currently the poem, “One, two, buckle my shoe. Three, four, shut the door”)
Continued from previous week:
- Lots of visual stimulation (high contrast patterns, well-lit rooms available every waking moment to grow vision)
- Tummy time on parents’ and siblings’ chests
- Stimulating the grasp reflex, babinski reflex, & startle reflex
- Face to face conversation
- Listening to Thaïs: Méditation by Jules Massenet
Motor Opportunity Program
Since Aria’s umbilical cord fell off last weekend, I introduced the crawling track this week.
The purpose of the crawling track is to provide baby with an ideal environment for movement. The advantages of the crawling track (verses a floor) is that it provides a smooth, pliable surface that allows baby to push off with her feet and slide easily, and narrow sides that keep baby moving in a forward motion (rather than in circles) while also providing protection from cold drafts and being bumped or stepped on.
It is really quite incredible to watch her scooting down her track, propelling herself forward with her tiny little toes. To watch her drive to move, to develop, to grow. It just never gets old, never ceases to amaze me what an incredible thing the will to learn is in babies, even the youngest of them.
So far she has done really well in her crawling track. So far she almost always enjoys it and spends her time examining the brightly-colored silhouettes I’ve lined the walls with.
Sometimes she just lays quietly looking at the pictures, sometimes she gives off the occasional push of her foot, sometimes she pushes off with her feet like crazy staying active for long periods and, in turn, moving quite a distance down the track.
She has, a few times, become frustrated and began to protest. If this happens I will try and comfort her, and if she won’t be comforted I will pick her up. It usually means she just wants to be held, or sometimes she just wants to be in a different position – looking at the patterns on the ceiling, for instance.
This is where we are keeping the crawling track at the moment. Living in an RV fulltime doesn’t leave many options for places to keep a crawling track, so putting it at the top of the master bed works well for now. It’s right next to a bright window and in a safe, warm place, and even though it makes our feet hang off the bed a little bit at nighttime, we don’t really mind!
Vestibular (Balance) Stimulation
I started doing the balance activities with Aria this week. There are several balance activities that are done on a small mat and several that are done while holding her.
The purpose of these activities is to stimulate the vestibular (balance) system of the brain, with the sensation of moving through space in different positions. Balance is an important aspect of mobility, because even if a baby has the muscle strength to do certain actions (i.e. sitting up, crawling, walking) it is useless if they don’t have the balance to go along with it.
The balance activities, therefore, not only grow the baby’s brain (vestibular area), but they also aid in helping baby develop motor skills sooner.
I didn’t get many pictures of the balance activities this week, but I will post specifically about how to do the balance activities soon.
Sensory Stimulation (Visual, Tactile, & Auditory)
We started flashlight stimulations this week (using a dull flashlight to cause the pupils to constrict). This is part of the visual stimulation program to help baby’s eyes grow, in addition to providing lots of high-contrast pictures and patterns to look at and keeping baby’s environment well-lit (except while they’re sleeping, of course).
It is actually a little tricky to do this activity right now as we don’t have any window-free rooms. With my last baby we would go into the bathroom to do the flashlight activities, but our current bathroom has a skylight. So often these activities get left until night time.
She still gets lots of time around high-contrast patterns and pictures. However, she is also starting to try to focus more on things across the room, and on faces as people talk to her.
The rest of the sensory stimulation program has been going well. Stimulating the babinski reflex (for tactile stimulation), stimulating the startle reflex (clapping two blocks together, to strengthen the auditory pathway of the brain), and also listening to classical music for auditory stimulation.
Her babinski reflex is already getting stronger and more consistent. Her startle reflex is hit or miss – sometimes the blocks elicit the startle reflex and sometimes they don’t. But she gets lots of “impromptu” startle reflex stimulations with all of the loud noises her two older brothers make!
Manual (Hand) Stimulation
Her grasp reflex is also getting stronger and more consistent. This week we started doing gentle lifting – she grasps onto both of my fingers while I gently lift her from her back to a sitting position. It’s amazing how strong the grasp reflex in newborns is!
We haven’t started the baby swimming program, and I’m not exactly sure when I plan to (we don’t have a tub, just a shower, and I’m not quite comfortable taking her to a public pool yet).
But she did get her first bath this week, and I was encouraged. She LOVED the water and was super comfortable in it. So I hope to keep encouraging this comfort in water to prepare her for swimming a few weeks or months down the road.
Next week our early learning program will look more or less the same. We might start doing Stage II visual stimulation activities in addition to Stage I activities, but I’m undecided. I also hope to be a little bit more “consistent” in doing more of each stimulation each day.
Resources used this week: