First Days of Life
Have you noticed your baby imitating your facial expressions? Your baby is fascinated with your face and loves when you get eye contact and sing to him. Hold your baby about 8-12 inches away and exaggerate your expression and lip movements as you sing. Your baby’s gaze will be short- don’t expect them to hold it very long those first several weeks.
At About 2 Months
Have you noticed your baby gaze lengthening? Eyes widening? More and longer eye contact signals indicates that the infant’s neurological growth and ability to communicate are on track. By making eye contact with you, the baby is demonstrating that her brain is registering that she is looking at a familiar face and that facial expressions can indicate how a person is feeling.
Choose a time when your baby is active and alert, not hungry or tired. Hold your baby at about 10-20 inches away to facilitate eye gaze and focus, and look in her eyes while singing. The human face is a strong visual stimulus, a wealth of information to process. When babies turn their heads away or avert their gaze it is not a sign of disinterest or rejection but their way of saying “I’ve had enough for now, give me a minute”. Follow their cues and they will learn that their communication works.
At Around 3 Months
Have you noticed your baby tracking your movements as you move further away? Dance for baby! This allows your baby to practice their visual tracking skill. It also gives them an opportunity to work on integrating 2 different kinds of sensory inputs: the visual demonstration of the beat you show by making defined, big movements in the tempo of the song, in sync with the auditory experience and tempo of the song being sung or played. In class we will watch the babies as they try to track their parents as they move around the circle away from them, and the baby will also be listening carefully to follow their favorite voice in the mix of singing voices.
5- 8 Months
Does your baby love playing peekaboo? It’s because it is always a funny surprise until they understand object permanence- that an object still exists even when you don’t see it. It’s social and exciting when the object that appears is their favorite person …you, and especially fun when singing is involved! Not only does your little one love interactive games like peekaboo, but they're good for his brain. Once they grasp object permanence, it’s a sign that your baby now has the memory and the ability to think abstractly, which is a pretty exciting milestone. It will also help him understand that you’ll be coming back when you leave, which can be comforting during the separation anxiety phases.
Have you shown your baby himself in a mirror? Mirrors are fascinating and baby may recognize your face and will become familiar with their own. Sing with expression in the mirror and exaggerate the funny faces (wrinkle nose, stick out tongue, widen eyes, etc). There are few things cuter than a baby who is trying to mimic you, and there are sure to be many giggles during this activity. Dancing with baby in front of a mirror is like having a dance party! They might smile, and reach out to try to touch the cute baby in the mirror, but they don’t have the self awareness yet ready to understand it is actually them! They don’t yet have the mental concept of self. Until they are toddlers they believe they are one with you, and not a separate being with their own thoughts and feelings. Your movement is their movement, and their feelings and your feelings are one.
By 9-11 months,
Have you noticed if your baby follows your gaze? At this age babies develop the ability to follow the actual eye gaze of the adult. It means that they already understand that the eyes are meant to look and see! When babies are able to follow the caregiver’s gaze, infants can share important information with parents. This is an essential skill required to enjoy mutual play with caregiver and objects and is a central skill to the development of language and vocabulary. When both caregiver and baby are looking at the same object and the parent sings or talks about the object, the connection between a sight and a word is established.