Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Baby Attention and Activity

Infants and toddlers are naturally more active and seemingly inattentive than older children. They are for the most part inquisitive and want to learn about their enviornment. Sometimes they seem more active and inattentive than we, as adults, would like them to be. The best advice is sometimes easier said than done. That easy to say, harder to do advice is, "Get over it!"

Don't hate me for this next part. Television is a very, very poor babysitter/parent. For one thing, a television does not provide the warm, secure, physical, safe base that a baby/toddler needs to have. The second part of this is even harder to understand.

Babies/toddlers who watch too much television end up having a tough time paying attention. Read it again - Babies/toddlers who watch too much television end up having a tough time paying attention. Check this link out: The internet is full of information about this (pro and con). Read it after your child is asleep. Think this way, though: If it is true, and I let my child watch television too much as a baby and toddler it may be difficult or impossible to fix their inattentiveness when they are older. Best advice - no more than one hour per day of television for a child. Give up your soap operas, game shows, talk-shows, and movies for your child, or record them so you can see them when they are asleep.

Why does television harm the ability of a child to pay attention? Because it moves (shifts attention for them. They don't have to turn pages. They can't operate the devices that pause television action so that they can look at things that interest them. Their brains, in essence, become lazy. They stop moving to explore their surroundings because it does this for them. This, believe it or not, can be a terrible thing.

How do you acquire the attention of your baby/toddler for table activities (such as eating at a restaurant or with the family, or playing to learn)? There is research on this. Make several (as many as you can) placemats with very "busy" designs (paisley, multi-color, abstract with small details). Laminate different designs on each side of an identically shaped, sized piece of cardboard board. Circular shaped mats are best because turning them makes the mat into something new. Place the mat on the table where you want to work with your baby, get some blocks (smooth sides - no linking blocks like Leggos (tm)), crayons and paper, etc. Have fun! Change the mat every few minutes.

What is the best color of block/crayon for your child? Red.

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