Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful stages of life, but it’s also one full questions and uncertainties. Pregnant women who are expecting for the first time often do a lot of research to understand the development of their baby while they’re still in the womb, but many seem to leave that research behind after the baby is born. The first year of a child’s life is a period of fast brain development and rapid changes, therefore it’s one that requires a lot of intentional stimulation and play.
During the 9 months the baby spends inside of the womb, the sensory system develops and your baby builds the ability to smell, taste, hear and respond to touch. For instance, according to Baby Sense, “at 8 weeks and by 13-15 weeks your baby has taste buds similar to adults’. Anything you eat can flavour the amniotic fluid.” On a sensory level, the second and third trimesters are the most intense, it’s during those times that babies really start hearing sounds and can recognize their mum’s voice.
Your baby’s vision is constantly developing from birth to 5 years of age. During the first month babies can see black and white patterns, and possibly certain colours, but in a blurry form. By the second month, they can recognize colours more distinctively and track the movement of objects at close distance. At 6 and 8 months your baby’s vision is a lot more accurate and fast. Colours appear more clearly and they are able to track faster and more distant movements. Playing with different coloured fabrics and other objects that allow for motion is a great way to stimulate your baby’s vision. Baby music classes at Hive include specific activities to strengthen and develop baby’s vision.
Babies are born with well developed hearing, which can and should be stimulated. Immersing your baby in music from birth causes your baby’s brain to connect and grow neural pathways that will form the foundations of their creative talent in music, art, language and maths for their future. The optimum time for this to occur is while the brain is still rapidly growing – between birth and 3 years of age.
According to PBC Expo, touch stimulates parts of the brain that are responsible for coordination and thinking, they affirm that “babies need to touch interesting objects and textured materials in order to develop and strengthen connections between the brain cells. Whenever an object is grasped or explored with the fingertips, millions of sensory receptors send messages to the brain, which then processes, analyses and stores the information.”
Sensory play alone, however does not develop useful learning pathways in the brain. Gopnick (1999) likens a child’s neural pathways to a plethora of telephone wires. He says: “Experience determines which [neural] connections will be strengthened and which will be pruned; connections that have been activated most frequently are preserved. Neurons must have a purpose to survive. Without a purpose, neurons…that do not receive or transmit information become damaged and die.” (https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/plast.html)
At Hive we pair sensory play with deliberate musical learning activities that teach babies how to listen and respond to musical patterns. This research-based learning approach gives the sensory play a purpose and develops strong neural pathways in the brain that will last throughout the child’s lifetime. Music is the only activity that not only stimulates but develops and strengthens every area of a baby’s brain simultaneously: