|What is infant stimulation?
For babies, playing stimulates their senses, and helps them learn
and develop. Playing with your baby or infant stimulation
includes activities that arouse or stimulate your babys
sense of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.
Infant stimulation can improve your babys curiosity, attention
span, memory, and nervous system development. In addition, babies
who are stimulated reach developmental milestones faster, have
better muscle coordination, and a more secure self image.
Why is infant stimulation important in the hospital?
The hospital can be both under-stimulating and over-stimulating.
Its important to pay attention to your babys special
needs in the hospital, so you can continue providing appropriate
Why does my baby have special needs in the hospital?
Being hospitalized is stressful for infants. Heres some
things that can cause stress and affect your babys development:
- Your baby is touched by many different people he isnt
used to so many people taking care of him.
- Medical care often interrupts your babys daily routine.
- The staff or family members may not be able to respond to
your babys needs as quickly as they want to.
- Some medical procedures may be uncomfortable or painful.
- If toys are available, they may be out of reach.
- Lights, beepers, alarms, IVs, etc. can over-stimulate your
- Your baby might get bored being alone, in a crib for long
periods, or in dull surroundings.
How can I stimulate my baby while were in the hospital?
Babies begin to tell the difference between light and dark before
their born. At birth, an infant can clearly see an object 1013
inches from her face. For the first three months, babies enjoy
contrasting colors and patterns, especially black and white. Older
infants like bright, bold colors red, blue, green, and
yellow. In the hospital, you can:
- Give your baby toys with contrasting patterns and colors,
or hang them in the crib.
- Use mobiles, crib mirrors or crib gyms.
- Place your face 1013 inches from your baby.
- Always hold and look at your baby while feeding him.
- Play peek-a-boo.
- Place objects so your baby can see and reach for them.
- Show your baby pictures from a storybook as you read.
- Hang pictures of family members on the crib.
Touching is one of the best ways to stimulate your baby. It provides
contact, reassurance, relaxation, and comfort. Babies like firm
and gentle stroking. Touching a variety of textures will fascinate
your baby. In the hospital, you can:
- Wash your hands before touching your baby.
- Stroke your baby from head to toe with a different fabrics
or household items (cotton ball, tooth brush, sponge, etc.).
- Gently massage your baby.
- Trickle water over your baby during bath time.
- Play pat-a-cake.
- Gently exercise your babys arms and legs, moving them
smoothly and slowly.
- Rock your baby it imitates life in the womb.
Taste and Smell
Babies notice different tastes and smells. In the hospital, you
- Let your baby taste and smell different things one
at a time in case of allergies.
- Check with your doctor to see if you can feed your baby new
kinds of foods.
- Use a blanket with a little bit of your perfume on it.
A newborns most highly developed sense is hearing
babies can hear and remember familiar sounds months before theyre
born. One of the easiest ways to calm a newborn is to hold him
next to his mothers chest so he can hear her heart. Infants
seem to prefer soft and high-pitched sounds, especially a females
voice. In the hospital, you can:
- Talk to your baby.
- Play musical toys or radios.
- Shake a rattle or ring a bell from different areas of the
- Attach bells to your babys booties.
- Sing to your baby.
- Expose your baby to different sounds.
- Read a story to your baby.
- Dont make loud noises or put earphones on your baby
they can easily damage his hearing.
- Make a cassette tape of noises (a car horn, a door slamming,
children laughing, your voice) for your baby to listen to.
Things to remember about infant stimulation
- Infants feel more secure when they can feel boundaries around
them like blankets rolled up and placed close to their
sides and feet.
- Let your baby sit up on your lap so she can look around.
- Change toys so your baby doesnt get bored.
- Its best to touch the non-threatening parts of your
infants body first (arms and legs).
- Stimulation will work best when an infant is alert, active
and paying attention.
- Keep your baby warm.
- If your baby is being stimulated properly, he/she will smile,
coo, babble, make eye contact, have alert facial expression
and will interact with people or toys.
- If your baby gets tired or loses interest, it may mean shes
had enough stimulation and is tired. Let her rest.
From the Parent/Patient Education Series, Holmes Regional Medical
Center Pediatric Services